Trump trial: Indictment calls for new penalties for speech ban violations

In the hush money trial against Donald Trump, the public prosecutor's office has demanded further fines because the former US president violated a speech ban. “The defendant has demonstrated that he is willing to say and do anything to obstruct the process,” prosecutor Christopher Conroy said in court in New York on Thursday.

Trump “willfully” and “knowingly” violated the ban, Conroy added. “The defendant thinks the rules shouldn't apply to him,” the prosecutor continued.

Trump is prohibited from making any public statements that concern witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court and prosecutors and could have an influence on the proceedings. The judge Juan Merchan had also extended the ban to include negative statements against his family members and those of the senior public prosecutor. Trump had violently attacked Merchan's daughter because she works for a consulting firm with ties to President Joe Biden's Democratic Party.

Because of Trump's repeated violations of the regulation, Merchan already imposed a fine of 9,000 dollars (8,400 euros) this week. He also warned the politician that further violation could result in a prison sentence. Violations of this type are punishable by up to 30 days in prison.

“We are not asking for prison yet,” said prosecutor Conroy. He asked for the maximum fine of $1,000 each for four new violations. According to Conroy, Trump's renewed violations were directed against Michael Cohen, the ex-president's former lawyer, and against the jury. The Republican Trump had complained that he could not expect a fair trial in New York, where citizens primarily vote for the Democratic Party.

Trump's lawyer renewed the accusation that the trial against the likely Republican candidate, which took place a few months before the presidential election, was politically motivated. Incumbent Joe Biden spoke publicly about the process and Trump did not have the opportunity to respond. Judge Merchan pointed out that Trump's speech ban does not apply to statements about Biden.

Trump used the trial-free Wednesday for campaign appearances in Wisconsin and Michigan, where he again described the proceedings against him as attempts by the opposing camp to “influence the election.”

The case in New York revolves around the cover-up of a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Trump is accused of concealing the payment by falsifying business documents. This is the first criminal trial in history against a former US president.

The 77-year-old right-wing populist is also facing criminal charges in three other cases. Two of these involve his massive attempts to retroactively overturn his election defeat to Biden in 2020, and another case involves his taking secret government documents to his private property in the state of Florida.