According to a report by Reuters, Judge Juan Merchan has fined former U.S. President Donald Trump $9,000 for contempt of court during his ongoing criminal hush money trial, warning that incarceration could follow if Trump continues to breach the gag order. The fine, issued on Tuesday, was for Trump’s violation of the gag order, which restricts him from making public comments about trial witnesses and participants. Trump was penalized $1,000 for each of nine comments he made online that the judge found in violation of this order.

Justice Merchan, overseeing the trial, expressed concerns that the fine might not sufficiently deter Trump, given his substantial wealth, and noted his own limitations in imposing a higher penalty. The judge emphasized the necessity of upholding the integrity of the court’s orders and indicated a willingness to consider jail as a further measure if Trump persists in his violations.

The cited comments included an article shared by Trump labeling his former lawyer Michael Cohen, a key witness in the trial, as a “serial liar.” Another contentious post cited a claim about “undercover liberal activists” attempting to infiltrate the jury. Merchan dismissed Trump’s defense that he should not be held accountable for content he reposted but did not originally write.

A follow-up hearing is scheduled for Thursday, where additional penalties for other statements may be discussed. Merchan also demanded the removal of the offending posts from Trump’s Truth Social platform and his campaign website.

In a response on Truth Social, Trump decried the actions as an infringement on his free speech and denounced the trial as “rigged.” His attorney, Todd Blanche, argued the posts were legitimate responses to political attacks, yet failed to provide evidence of any provocation by the witnesses involved.

The developments occur amid Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, highlighting his charges of falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter. Trump has denied the encounter and pleaded not guilty.

According to a report by The New York Times (NYT), the $9,000 gag order violation fine prompted late-night comedians to seize the opportunity for some lighthearted jabs at Trump’s expense.

Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show,” playfully questioned the significance of the $9,000 fine for a successful businessman like Trump:

“I know $9,000 might not seem like a lot to a successful businessman, but what about to Trump?”

However, he quickly followed up with a more serious note, mentioning that the judge lamented the legal limit on the fine and warned that if Trump continues to violate the gag order, jail time may become a necessary punishment. Colbert quipped, “I don’t know if it’s necessary for Trump, but I need it.”

On “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” the host took a different approach, arguing that the situation seemed unfair to Trump. Kimmel pointed out the irony of the trial being about Trump paying a woman to be quiet, only to now face fines for not being quiet himself. He jokingly compared the situation to Jesus, a carpenter, being nailed to a cross, and urged his audience to “think about it” and “read about it in your Trump-brand Bibles.”

Kimmel also poked fun at the judge’s warning that continued gag order violations could result in Trump being locked up. He imagined Trump’s wife, Melania, encouraging her husband not to let the judge dictate his actions.

The comedians didn’t stop there. Kimmel took a jab at Trump’s spending habits, suggesting that the former president could easily spend $9,000 at a Wendy’s drive-through. Jimmy Fallon, host of “The Tonight Show,” joined in, imagining Trump’s response to the fine: “But I get the 10th one free, right?”

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