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Judge Merchan will hear arguments next week on whether Trump violated gag order

In court Monday, prosecutors said Trump should be fined, made to take down offending posts and warned about possible imprisonment.


Donald Trump’s criminal court appearance has so far consisted mostly of pretrial legal discussions before getting to jury selection. Among the issues raised Monday by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office was Trump’s alleged violation of the gag order before jury selection even started.

The prosecution asked Judge Juan Merchan for sanctions of $1,000 each for three Trump social media posts allegedly attacking Michael Cohen and others; for him to tell Trump to take down the posts in question; and for Trump to be reminded that another such post could result in jail time.

Merchan said he would hear arguments on the subject next Tuesday, April 23.

Of course, Trump was already on notice that violating the gag order could result in imprisonment.

Of course, Trump was already on notice that violating the gag order could result in imprisonment. Plus, he was fined multiple times in his civil fraud case for violating a gag order there. So it doesn’t seem that relatively low-level fines would do much to deter Trump. And now, whatever comes of these latest alleged violations won’t be sorted out until next week at the earliest, saying nothing of whatever additional potential violations come in the meantime. So the requested sanctions themselves, even if granted, are relatively weak, and Trump won’t immediately be held to account for them, if ever.

In any event, this sets up a crucial decision for Merchan to make early in the trial, in addition to the more typical legal issues that will arise. How the judge handles the gag order matter could set the tone for how the trial moves forward from there.

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