Donald Trump has always been known for being a man that speaks his mind. Though there is nothing wrong with that for most people, Donald Trump is not a random person. He is a wealthy man who has been President of the United States. With that comes responsibility and restraint.
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The latter is something the former President still hasn’t mastered. This has resulted in judges issuing limited gag orders against him in order to protect witnesses, prosecutors, jurors and court employees from his rally and social media outbursts.
Trump keeps on breaking his gag orders
Trump got his first fine for violating his limited gag order on 20 October, the reason for it could have been seen as a simple oversight. Indeed, it was revealed by a journalist that Trump and/or his team had forgotten to remove an inflammatory post from his website.
The post was the one that triggered the order in the first place which explains why ‘forgetting’ to remove it wasn’t well received by Judge Engoron, who rules on Trump civil fraud case.
Then on 25 October, Trump broke the same gag order by giving a statement to the press outside of court. He said:
This judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.
Judge Engoron suspected that Trump had once again targeted his clerk, Allison Greenfield and therefore asked the former President to take the stand. Trump denied mentioning the clerk and argued that he was talking about witness Michael Cohen. To that Judge Engoron answered:
As the trier of fact, I find that the witness is not credible (...) The idea that that statement would refer to the witness, that doesn’t make sense to me.
Don’t do it again or it will be worse.
The real reason why Trump keep getting fined
Judge Engoron’s hard stance when it comes to Donald Trump might seem exaggerated. Indeed, it is possible that Trump was referring to Michael Cohen. However, there is a simple reason why Engoron cannot take any risk.
I am very protective of my staff as I believe I should be.
I don’t want anyone killed.
This last sentence is crucial in order to understand why Trump keeps receiving gag orders and why Judges are enforcing them vehemently. Indeed, it is a fact that Donald Trump has a strong and violent base of supporters. These supporters fully believe the narrative that the former president is feeding them which is that these trials are nothing more than attempts to prevent him from being elected President again.
Exposing witnesses, prosecutors, jurors and court employees to this fan base is dangerous and could be perceived as a call to violence. For instance, Judge Chutkan, who rules in the Trump election interference trial, has received death threats.
The threat that Donald Trump’s supporters pose is something that judges, prosecutors and legal experts are constantly taking into account. This new fine issued by Judge Engoron has caught the attention of special counsel Jack Smith who has asked Judge Chutkan to reinstate a gag order on Trump. He wrote:
without the Court’s intervention, the defendant will continue to threaten the integrity of these proceedings and put trial participants at risk
This time, Smith is asking for a full gag order instead of the limited gag order issued on 20 October. This would lead to stricter consequences in case of violation, including possible jail time.
BBC News: Fireworks in court as Trump team calls ex-lawyer Michael Cohen a liar
Telegraph: Trump fined $10,000 for violating gagging order
NPR: A Texas woman is charged with threatening the judge overseeing Trump's Jan. 6 trial
Washington Post: Special counsel urges judge to crack down further on Trump’s comments