Prosecutors ask judge to fine Trump $3,000 for allegedly violating gag order

Trump's appearance in court Monday marks the beginning of the presumptive GOP nominee's first criminal trial as the 2024 election approaches.
Donald Trump

On Monday, prosecutors in Donald Trump's hush money case asked Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the trial, to fine the former president $3,000 for social media posts about witnesses in the case, an alleged violation of the gag order. 

Last week, in a post to his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump called Stormy Daniels and his former lawyer Michael Cohen "two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly!”

Prosecutors say this violated a gag order imposed by Merchan, which prohibited the former president from making public statements about trial witnesses, according to the Associated Press.

When Trump arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on Monday at the beginning of the trial, he called the proceedings “political persecution.”

“This is an assault on America, nothing like this has ever happened before,” he told reporters as he prepared to enter the courtroom. “This is a political persecution. This is a persecution like never before...This is an attack on a political opponent."

Hundreds of New Yorkers will assemble at the courthouse today as the jury selection is set to begin. The presiding judge is expected to ask more than 40 questions to narrow down the jury pool and limit bias against the former president. At the end of the process, which could take a week or more, there will be twelve jurors and a few alternates.

Last year, Trump was charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 34 counts of falsifying business documents related to a reimbursement to his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The lawyer, Trump's former fixer, alleges he made payments to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels under a nondisclosure agreement to prevent her from publicizing allegations she had an affair with Trump before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s legal team has attempted to delay the trial several times with its most recent attempt rejected by the New York appeals court last week. The Trump team wanted a delay in the trial until an appeals panel could rule on the gag order the judge placed on the former president.

Trump previously called Bragg’s prosecution a “witch hunt” and a “hoax,” remaining defiant in the face of the allegations.

Trump has also raised conflict of interest concerns about Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case. Merchan has made small dollar donations to Democratic politicians in the past and his daughter is a Democratic consultant and former Kamala Harris campaign staffer, Just the News reported earlier this month.