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Manhattan DA Bragg moves to hold Trump in contempt for alleged gag order violation

Bragg recommended that Trump be fined a total of $3,000 for the posts, and requested that Merchan warn Trump that he could face up to 30 days in prison if he violates the gag order in the future.

Published: April 16, 2024 6:42pm

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday filed a motion to hold former President Donald Trump in contempt, alleging he violated a gag order by posting about witnesses.

Acting New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan placed a gag order on Trump last month, forbidding him from posting about witnesses in his hush money criminal trial. But Trump has allegedly made three posts about two of the case's witnesses since the order was issued.

Trump is accused of doctoring his business records to hide an alleged payment to former lawyer Michael Cohen that was actually “hush money” for former porn star Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about an alleged affair between the two, that Trump denies.

Bragg recommended that Trump face a fine of $3,000 for the posts, according to Fox News, and requested that Merchan warn Trump that he could face up to 30 days in prison if he violates the gag order in the future.

"Defendant is not above the law, and he cannot simply disregard judicial orders that upset him," Bragg wrote in the motion. "Defendant's recent social media posts plainly violate the order because they target known witnesses concerning their participation in this criminal proceeding."

Prosecutors first claimed that Trump violated the order on April 10, when he reposted a quote from Michael Avenatti, who worked as a lawyer for Daniels, that criticized the imposition of a gag order on Trump when both Daniels and Cohen remain free to speak on the matter. Both are expected to testify in the trial.

"Thank you to Michael Avenatti --for revealing the truth about two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly," Trump said on Truth Social.

Bragg's office also pointed at a different April 10 post from the former president, who posted a photo of a statement from Daniels from January of 2018. In the statement, Daniels appears to deny allegations that she was paid “hush money” to keep quiet about the affair.

"Over the past few weeks I have been asked countless times to comment on reports of an alleged sexual relationship I had with Donald Trump many, many, many years ago," the 2018 statement from Daniels said. "I am not denying this affair because I was paid 'hush money' as has been reported in overseas owned tabloids. I am denying this affair because it never happened."

The post from Trump on Daniels's statement read: "LOOK WHAT WAS JUST FOUND! WILL THE FAKE NEWS REPORT IT." 

The last example provided by Bragg’s office referred to a post on April 13, about Cohen and former Manhattan prosecutor Mark Pomerantz.

"Has Mark POMERANTZ been prosecuted for his terrible acts in and out of the D.A.’s Office," Trump posted on April 13. "Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING? Only TRUMP people get prosecuted by this Judge and these thugs! A dark day for our Country. MAGA2024!!!"

Trump has also criticized Merchan for making him attend every day of the criminal trial, which he claims could mean that he has to miss his youngest son’s high school graduation. The gag order does not prohibit Trump from criticizing Merchan.

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