Trump trial: Hush money judge holds hearing on more alleged gag order violations

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 2, 2024. 

Charly Triballeau | Via Reuters

This is developing news. Check back for updates throughout the day.

The New York criminal trial of Donald Trump resumed Thursday with another hearing on whether the former president violated his gag order by speaking about likely witnesses in the case.

Two days earlier, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan held Trump in criminal contempt for nine violations of the gag order, which bars Trump from discussing jurors, witnesses and others involved in the trial.

After the first gag order hearing last week, state prosecutors accused Trump of violating the gag order four more times, prompting the judge to schedule a second hearing.

“His statements are corrosive to this proceeding, and to the fair administration of justice,” prosecutor Chris Conroy said of Trump on Thursday morning.

Merchan on Tuesday imposed the maximum fine of $1,000 for each of the nine violations — an amount he acknowledged was barely a slap on the wrist for Trump, a multibillionaire.

But the judge also warned Trump that future violations of court orders could land him in jail.

Conroy said in Thursday’s hearing that, “Because we prefer to minimize disruptions to this proceeding, we are not yet seeking jail.”

The latest gag order hearing took place before prosecutors resumed questioning Keith Davidson, the attorney who helped broker a hush money payment from the former president’s lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Davidson, who represented Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, testified Tuesday about his involvement in selling the story rights for both women, each of whom separately claimed to have had sex with Trump while he was married.

The $130,000 payment to Daniels in particular is at the center of the historic criminal trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, where Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accuses Trump of mislabeling those records as part of a scheme to secretly reimburse his then-lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Trump unlawfully tried to influence that election by buying and suppressing damaging information about him, Bragg alleges.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, must sit in court throughout the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.

Read more about Trump’s hush money trial

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