Trump says he will go to jail over gag order: ‘I’ll do that sacrifice’

The former president has been held in contempt of court for violating a gag order for the 10th time in his hush money trial in New York

Martha McHardy
Tuesday 07 May 2024 11:33 BST
Trump backtracks on false claim about gag order

Donald Trump has said he would rather face jail time than comply with a gag order imposed on him.

“Frankly our Constitution is much more important than jail,” Trump said to press in the hallway of the Manhattan courthouse where he is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records in an alleged bid to cover up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. “It’s not even close. I’ll do that sacrifice any day.”

Trump was hit with a gag order in March, preventing him from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in his hush money trial, in which he is charged with 34 felony counts - all of which he denies.

Since then, Trump has been accused of breaking the gag order several times during his trial, with Judge Juan Merchan on Monday imposing a $1,000 fine on Mr Trump and holding him in contempt for a second time.

“Your continued violations … threaten to interfere with the administration of justice, and constitute a direct attack on the rule of law,” Judge Merchan told Trump.

He also warned the former president Trump that he could face jail time if he breaks the gag order again.

Donald Trump outside court in New York
Donald Trump outside court in New York (AP)

“It appears that the $1,000 fines are not serving as a deterrent. Going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sanction,” Judge Merchan said.

Trump was hit with a $9,000 fine last week for nine offending Truth Social posts where he attacked witnesses in the case.

In his written order, the judge warned that Trump could face an “incarceratory punishment” if he continues his “wilful violations” of the court’s order, if “necessary and appropriate under the circumstances”.

Trump’s defence attorney Todd Blanche argued that the former president’s posts were responding to “political” attacks but failed to offer up any examples of what, exactly, Trump was responding to.

Since the gag order was imposed on him, Trump has sought to use the ruling to raise money for his political campaign by criticising the criminal justice system, which he has previously baselessly asserted is unfair and biased against him.

“The liberal judge in New York just threatened to THROW ME IN JAIL” a fundraising email sent before this Monday’s ruling read, with emphasised red lettering and the subject line, “They want me in HANDCUFFS.”

The email encouraged supporters to “Stand with Trump” and directed donations to a joint-fundraising committee launched this spring, Trump National Committee JFC.

On the day that Mr Trump took a mugshot in Fulton County, Georgia, he raised more than $7 million dollars, making it his campaign’s single biggest fundraising day of the cycle.

“Do it... and watch those poll numbers go through the roof,” Students for Trump Chair Ryan Fournier said on X on Monday after Judge Merchan threatened Trump with jail time.

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