You can go to prison! Judge warns Trump of ‘incarceration’ punishment after losing gag order clash

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s hush money case on Tuesday held the former president in contempt for violating a gag order and warned him that he could face jail time for future violations.

Judge Juan Merchan fined Trump $9,000 for seven messages posted on his Truth Social media platform and two messages on his campaign website. According to Merchan, the posts violated a gag order barring any attacks on jurors and witnesses.

In his written order, Merchant said he would not tolerate further violations from the former president, adding that “if necessary and appropriate,” he would impose “an incarceration punishment” on Trump.

In 34 felony counts, Trump is accused of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election, allegedly made to keep her from talking about an affair she says they had.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and has denied all charges as well as the affair. Merchan had placed a gag order on Trump that prohibits him from making public statements about “known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation” or “public statements about any prospective juror or any juror.”

On Tuesday, Merchan ruled Trump in contempt for nine violations of the gag order related to the Truth Social and campaign website posts and imposed a fine of $1,000 for each violation. The judge also said that in the future he would consider “whether, in some instances, jail may be a necessary punishment.”

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, attorney Bradley P. Moss called the decision a “smart move by Merchan.”

“This is the first criminal contempt finding. It’s a warning to Trump that the games won’t be tolerated,” said Moss, a frequent critic of Trump. “If he does it again, and Merchan does have to cross the Rubicon and jail him, it strengthens Merchan’s argument on appeal.”

Meanwhile, conservative media personality Clay Travis said on X that he thinks “the best thing that could happen to Donald Trump is being put in jail for contempt of court in this absurd New York City show trial,” adding that it “would send his poll numbers soaring.

“Democrats have way overreached and their lawfare is blowing up in their faces.”

Merchan said Trump must take down the offending posts from Truth Social and his campaign website by 2:15 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Last week, prosecutors presented four additional potential violations. Merchan has scheduled a hearing to discuss those on Thursday morning.

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