It was an unprecedented week in the continuing saga of legal battles for former President Donald Trump. Trump has already been indicted four times over the last several months with more potential criminal trial appearances on the horizon as he forges on with his campaign to take back the Oval Office in 2024. Here is the latest on what transpired this week for the former president.
Trump Fined for Violating Gag Order
Trump spent much of the week in a New York City courthouse for a civil fraud trial. The $250 million lawsuit was filed by New York State Attorney General Letitia James last September, alleging that Trump, his three eldest children, and several executives from the Trump Organization were complicit in a fraud scheme that lined their pocketbooks.
The most significant development this week came on Wednesday when presiding Judge Arthur Engoron hit the former president with a $10,000 fine for violating a gag order that prohibited him from attacking court staff. The fine was levied after Trump made the remark that Engoron’s clerk was a “very partisan person.” Engoron responded by calling a hearing to ask Trump about the comment.
Trump denied the judge’s accusation, maintaining that the comment was in reference to his former attorney, Michale Cohen. This week’s fine marked the second week in a row that Trump was fined for violating the gag order. Just last week, Trump was fined $5,000 for refusing to take down a social media post that also verbally attacked Engoron’s clerk.
It is clear that Engoron’s patience is being tested. Following Wednesday’s fine, the judge said that the next fine will be worse if Trump violates the gag order once again.
The gag order had been imposed by Engoron after Trump posted a picture of the clerk with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, accusing her of being partisan. Engoron justified the gag order by saying that he is concerned about the safety of his staff.
Ivanka Trump Ordered to Testify at Civil Fraud Trial
Judge Engoron also denied a motion from the legal team of Ivanka Trump on Friday, thereby ordering her to testify at her father’s trial. However, Engoron conceded that her testimony should not happen prior to Wednesday, providing her time to appeal the ruling. Ivanka Trump’s lawyer had maintained that her removal as a defendant in the case by an appellate court should mean that she is not required to appear in the courtroom.
In addition, Trump’s lawyers are arguing that his daughter has not lived in the state of New York since 2017, meaning that the court should not have jurisdiction over her. Trump’s legal team has also accused Attorney General James of asking Ivanka Trump to testify simply to create media attention.
The New York attorney general’s office said on Friday that Trump’s children should be prepared to be called to testify in court next week while Trump himself needs to be available to testify the following week. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are both still listed as co-defendants in the case. Each of the three children are expected to testify for one day beginning on Wednesday.
Developments in Georgia Election Subversion Case
Thousands of miles away, there were also a number of developments in the Georgia election subversion case. Former campaign lawyer for Trump Jenna Ellis entered a guilty plea on Tuesday while delivering an emotional apology for her actions during her attempt to help the ex-president overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. Ellis’ guilty plea is the third one of its kind by Trump allies over the last week.
Ellis was slapped with a $5,000 restitution fine and ordered to serve years of probation in response to her plea on one count of aiding and abetting false statements. In addition to conceding her culpability, the guilty plea also implicated Trump’s former attorney and ring leader Rudy Giuliani.
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