A United States judge has threatened to hold former US President Donald Trump in contempt after he violated a previous gag order by failing to retract previous disparaging comments about court staff.
Justice Arthur Engoron said on Friday that Trump has refused to take down an “untrue and disparaging” social media post about a clerk for the judge, a requirement of an earlier gag order.
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“I ordered him to remove the post immediately and he said he did take it down,” Engoron was quoted as saying by the news outlet NBC.
“Despite this order, last night I learned the offending post was never removed from a website. This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I made it clear [that] failure to comply will result in serious sanctions,” the judge added.
The judge has said that Trump could be fined or even jailed for the infringement.
The former president faces numerous legal challenges as he mounts a bid to reclaim the White House in 2024. He remains the clear frontrunner in the current Republican presidential primaries.
Trump has a long history of attacking perceived rivals, and his lawyer Christopher Kise said that the failure to remove the social media post was “truly inadvertent”.
A spokesperson for New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case, declined to comment.
Trump has portrayed his myriad legal issues, including some stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as a “witch hunt” aimed at stifling his political ambitions.
On Friday, Trump posted an image to the social media site Truth Social of a drawing that shows Jesus Christ sitting next to Trump in the court.
Engoron first imposed the gag order on October 3, after Trump shared a picture of a social media post by one of the judge’s clerks posing with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who is not involved in the case, calling her “Schumer’s girlfriend”.
Kise said the post had been removed from social media but not Trump’s campaign website.
“It appears no one took it down on the campaign website,” he said. “It is unfortunate and I apologise on behalf of my client.”