Mr Trump showed little reaction to the threat of jail

Trump trial: Judge threatens ex-president with jail if he keeps breaking gag order

By Kayla Epstein & Madeline Halpert, in court, BBC |

Former US President Donald Trump has been held in contempt of court for violating a gag order for the 10th time in his hush-money trial in New York.

Justice Juan Merchan issued his most serious warning yet to Mr Trump, saying further violations could mean jail.

“At the end of the day, I have a job to do and that job is to protect the dignity of the judicial system,” the judge said.

This is the second gag order ruling of the trial.

Earlier in the hush-money proceedings, Judge Merchan sided with the prosecution and fined Mr Trump $1,000 each for nine violations.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a payment to a porn actress to hide an alleged sexual encounter. He has denied all wrongdoing.

On Monday, the third week of testimony in the first-ever criminal trial of a former president, Justice Merchan said it appeared the $9.000 gag-order fine from the previous infractions was not serving as a deterrent.

“Therefore going forward this court will have to consider a jail sanction,” he said. “It is important that you understand that the last thing I want to do is put you in jail.”

Prosecutors said last week they were “not yet seeking jail” for Mr Trump’s alleged gag order violations.

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Justice Merchan acknowledged that incarcerating Mr Trump would be very disruptive to the proceedings. But he called the gag order violations “a direct attack on the rule of law” that he cannot abide.

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