Trump, Called to the Witness Stand, Is Fined $10,000 but Spared Jail for Latest Insults to Courtroom Staff

A judge does not find Trump credible after he argues he was referring to Cohen, not to the judge’s clerk, when he criticized a person in the court as ‘partisan.’

AP/Luiz Ribeiro
President Trump and his attorney, Chris Kise, at the New York supreme court, October 24, 2023. AP/Luiz Ribeiro

President Trump has been fined $10,000 for again violating a partial gag order after a dramatic courtroom scene in which the 45th president took the stand to answer a judge’s questions about his derogatory comments about courtroom staff. While the judge did not find Mr. Trump credible and levied the fine, he did not make history by sending him to jail, as he’d previously intimated he might do.  

The contretemps revolved around a statement Mr. Trump had made midmorning outside the courtroom. when he told reporters that Judge Arthur Engoron of New York supreme court is “a very partisan judge with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.” 

Judge Engoron was not amused. “I am protective of my staff,” he told the courtroom, apparently referring to his clerk, Allison Greenfield. “I don’t want anyone killed.” 

He told Mr. Trump that he had again violated a partial gag order from earlier this month, and asked Mr. Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, why he shouldn’t impose “severe sanctions.”

Last Friday, the judge had fined the former president $5,000 for a “blatant violation” of the partial order from earlier this month when Mr. Trump was gagged from insulting court staff. 

The judge had imposed this narrow gag order earlier this month after Mr. Trump posted on Truth Social an attack on Ms. Greenfield, calling her Senator Schumer’s girlfriend without supporting the allegation with evidence. Judge Engoron had immediately ordered that the post be deleted. He then barred Mr. Trump and other parties in the case from making public statements about his staff. 

The post swiftly came down from Truth Social. Yet when it came to the judge’s attention days later that the post was still public and visible on Mr. Trump’s campaign website, he fined Mr. Trump the $5,000. That was last Friday, and it was the first time Mr. Trump had ever faced consequences for violating court-ordered restrictions on his speech.

That Friday, the judge had threatened jail time should Mr. Trump violate the partial order again. So, today, after Mr. Trump called out “a person sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” the judge interpreted this as another reference to his law clerk, who sits very close to him. 

“Why should there not be severe sanctions for disobeying a clear court order?” Judge Engoron asked Mr. Kise. 

The lawyer stood up from the table and answered that his client had explained to him that the insulting remark referred to Cohen, not the judge’s law clerk. He noted that Mr. Trump was tired of hearing “the lies” that Cohen was repeating only a few feet away from him. 

The judge was skeptical at first. “Alongside,” he said, means close by, and Cohen was sitting in the witness stand, not directly next to him. 

“Language sometimes is not clear, but this is clear to me,” he concluded, and added he’d take the matter “under advisement.” The trial then continued, with Cohen called back onto the stand, where he gave more testimony impugning his former boss.

After lunch, the judge said he had reviewed the matter of the gag order and decided to question Mr. Trump about whether he had referred to Cohen or to his law clerk when he criticized the partisanship of someone “sitting alongside” the judge. Judge Engeron further asked if Mr. Trump always refers to Cohen by his name.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Mr. Kise and Alina Habba, both pointed out  that Mr. Trump can refer to Cohen using words that are much worse than his name. 

Judge Engoron did not find the former president credible and fined him $10,000. He did not, though, issue a “severe sanction” and throw Mr. Trump in jail as he’d threatened to do previously.

Mr. Trump is is voluntarily attending a civil trial that aims to settle fraud claims by the New York attorney general, Letitia James. She is seeking $250 million in damages and wants to bar Mr. Trump and his Trump Organization from running a business in New York as penalty for his falsely inflating the value of his assets in order to get better loan terms.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use