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Will Trump shut up about Judge Arthur?

I wouldn't count on it. He could care less about being fined and if placed in the slammer his polling numbers will go through the roof. No, I suspect he'll keep calling Judge Arthur a corrupt Gonif.

BTW, Bill Clinton's womanizing and bad deeds with the opposite sex make Trump look like Bambi. I'm not excusing either of these morally casual dudes.

The Delicate Art of ‘Shutting Up’ Donald Trump

Judge in hush-money trial has just two choices when former president violates gag order: small fines or jail

By Corinne Ramey, James Fanelli and Vivian Salama, WSJ

May 4, 2024 5:00 am ET

Before Donald Trump took the stage at a Wisconsin rally this past week, his campaign emailed supporters to complain about a gag order in his hush-money trial.

“THEY’RE TRYING TO SHUT ME UP FOR GOOD!” the message said, above a photo of a defiant Trump.

Hours later at the rally, the former president was far from silent. “Unfortunately, it’s a 95% or so Democrat area,” Trump said of the Manhattan jury pool, echoing a statement that prosecutors had claimed violated the judge’s order.

The order bars Trump from attacking potential witnesses, jurors, court staff, prosecutors and their families.

The question of how to silence Trump—or at least quell his rhetoric—has emerged as a quandary in the former president’s Manhattan criminal trial over allegations he illegally covered up a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the 34 felony counts of falsifying business records he faces.

While Trump’s lawyers regularly counsel him against violating the order, the former president ultimately makes his own calls about what he says or posts on social media, according to people familiar with the matter.

A showdown with the judge is likely if Trump fails to curb his attacks against potential witnesses who could testify in the coming weeks, including former fixer Michael Cohen and Daniels. The limited penalties permitted by law have put Justice Juan Merchan in a bind.

The law allows for only two types of potential punishments. Merchan may fine Trump $1,000 per violation, or jail him for a maximum of 30 days. The first is insufficient, the judge has acknowledged, and the second unprecedented.

“The judge is walking a tightrope between balancing Trump’s rights versus the necessity to control the courtroom and the trial,” said Barry Kamins, a former New York state court judge who oversaw scores of criminal cases.

Putting a presidential contender behind bars in the final months of his campaign is a politically fraught scenario with logistical complications. The Secret Service has begun discussing possible options if the former president were to be given either a long or short jail sentence, current and former Secret Service officials said.

This past week, the gag order came up every day in court. Merchan has said his order is necessary to prevent Trump from intimidating witnesses and the jury, and from disrupting the orderly administration of the trial.

On Tuesday, Merchan ruled that Trump violated the order nine times. The judge fined Trump $9,000, the maximum penalty under the law.

“If necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, [the court] will impose an incarceratory punishment,” the judge warned.

Among the offending posts: Trump called Cohen and Daniels “two sleaze bags.” He posted an article calling Cohen a “serial perjurer.” He loosely quoted a Fox News host claiming that undercover liberal activists were lying to the judge in order to get on the jury.

The judge didn’t buy the Trump lawyers’ argument that the former president was passively reposting what he had heard elsewhere—especially because the quote was inaccurate.

“He had to sit there, use the quotation marks, the shift key and type everything out, and then add those additional words,” the judge said.

On Thursday, prosecutors argued that Trump had violated the order four additional times, including in the courthouse hallway. Merchan noted that Trump’s regular hallway speeches weren’t required.

“Judge, I agree with that,” his lawyer, Todd Blanche, said. After Trump whipped around and glared at his attorney, Blanche paused.

“Nobody is forcing him, but he is running for president,” Blanche said. “He has to be able to speak.”

On Friday, Merchan sternly corrected Trump for claiming to reporters in the courthouse hallway that the gag order barred him from testifying in his own defense. “I want to stress, Mr. Trump, that you have an absolute right to testify at trial,” the judge said.

If Merchan were to jail Trump, finding a secure location would complicate the matter.

Donald Mihalek, a retired Secret Service agent, said the Secret Service is required under federal law to protect Trump in all settings, including jail.

Merchan could order Trump to serve a short stint in a courthouse holding cell, a federal detention center or under house arrest, Mihalek said.

“I don’t think Rikers would be in the equation,” Mihalek said, referring to New York City’s island jail complex where thousands of inmates are detained.

How should Justice Juan Merchan approach Donald Trump’s gag-order violations? Join the conversation below.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Correction, which operates Rikers and other jails, said if the need arose, the department would find appropriate housing.

Other New York judges have raised the prospect of jailing the former president, although none have done so. Last spring, during a civil trial between Trump and writer E. Jean Carroll, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan accused Trump of using social media to speak to the jury about evidence deemed inadmissible in court. Kaplan threatened “a new source of potential liability.”

“I think you know what I mean,” he added.

This fall, Justice Arthur Engoron imposed a limited gag order on Trump for posting a baseless rumor about the judge’s law clerk during the former president’s civil-fraud trial.

Several weeks later, the judge fined Trump $5,000 for violating the order. Future violations, he said, could result in “possibly imprisoning him.”

While judges do occasionally gag defendants, punishments for violating such orders are rare. A federal judge in 1994 sentenced a lawyer for a mafia boss to 90 days of house arrest for talking to reporters. In 2000, a New York state judge held real-estate developer Abe Hirschfeld in contempt for running ads in newspapers about his murder-for-hire trial.

Unlike those defendants, Trump is running for the White House and has claimed the case is election interference. Weighing on Merchan may be the possibility that jailing Trump politicizes the matter even further, said Mark Bederow, a criminal defense attorney uninvolved in the case.

“The thing you can’t ignore is that he is the Republican nominee for president and his position on his case is that, ‘They are out to get me and this is a witch hunt,’ ” Bederow said.

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