New York judge fines Trump $5,000

A New York judge has fined former US President Donald Trump $5,000 for defaming a court employee. Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the Trump assets fraud trial, imposed the sentence on Friday for violating his order not to publicly comment on court personnel, according to a court document. He also threatened a prison sentence for future violations.

At the beginning of October, the ex-president published a photo of one of the judge’s employees on his online platform Truth Social and described her as a “friend” of the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer. Engoron then banned all those involved in the process from publicly commenting on his employees: “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable.”

The post was quickly deleted on Truth Social. But it remained on Trump’s campaign website. The judge said he “learned last night that the offending post was never removed from the website and had, in fact, been on that site for the past 17 days.” The post was ultimately only deleted after an email from the court.

At a hearing, the judge asked Trump’s defense team why he should not impose “harsh punishments” against the ex-president – including “fines” and possibly even prison, according to media reports confirmed by a court spokesman. Attorney Chris Kise responded that it was an oversight. “I apologize on behalf of my client.”

Engoron was now left with a fine of around 4,700 euros. At the same time, he warned that he would impose “much harsher punishments” for possible future violations for contempt of court. A prison sentence is also possible.

The civil trial against Trump in New York began at the beginning of October. New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses the ex-president and entrepreneur of having inflated the assets of his real estate empire over the years in order to get better conditions for loans and insurance. Judge Engoron ruled before the trial began that Trump overstated the assets and thereby committed “fraud.”

The civil case is therefore particularly concerned with the question of how high the punishment will be against Trump and his sons Donald Trump Junior and Eric Trump. James has demanded, among other things, a fine of $250 million. Trump is not threatened with a prison sentence.

Trump, who repeatedly appears at the trial in person, has rejected all allegations and described them as politically motivated. The Republican, who plans to run again in the 2024 presidential election, has also repeatedly attacked Judge Engoron and Attorney General James.

In addition to the civil proceedings over fraud allegations in New York, the ex-president has been indicted in four criminal cases. Two charges concern the right-wing populist’s attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and thus stay in power.