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Judge fines Trump $9,000 and threatens jail time, the third week of the trial against Trump begins

The former president's legal team has stated that it is not illegal to manage negative publicity during a presidential campaign.

Donald Trump

(Cordon Press)

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The third week of the trial against Trump begins with Judge Juan Merchán warning Trump that he could impose an "incarceratory punishment" on the former president if he continues to violate his gag order. He also fined Trump $9,000 for the alleged nine violations of his gag order. The lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal also testified.

Judge warns Trump that he could send him to jail

Prosecutor Alvin Bragg claimed that Trump violated the gag order 11 times and requested a fine of $11,000, $1,000 for each violation. However, the judge determined that only nine violations occurred. The judge said in some cases, these types of fines did not mean much to the defendant, so they did not have the expected effect. He said that it would be much better if these fines were established according to the wealth of the accused, but he stressed that there is also the option of subjecting Trump to jail time.

"Criminal contempt is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, by jail not exceeding 30 days or by both in the discretion of the court, for each violation of a court order," Judge Merchan wrote.

During the lunch break, the former president deleted the posts which violated the gag order. Trump's lawyer once again insisted that the order imposed by Merchan is unconstitutional and that it prevents a presidential candidate from defending himself and expressing himself ahead of the elections. One of the most notable issues drawing attention and criticism is that the order was issued solely against Trump, while the prosecutor's star witness, Michael Cohen, freely speaks to the media and makes continuous accusations.

This Tuesday it was also announced that Trump will have permission to go to his son's graduation on May 17 in Florida.

Keith Davidson testifies

This Tuesday Keith Davidson testified before the court. The lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels and the model Karen McDougal claims to have worked with Trump. Davidson said McDougal received $150,000 and a commitment to appear in American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, in exchange for not selling his story with Trump to any other media outlet.

The negotiations were reportedly carried out between Davidson and Dylan Howard, former content director at American Media Inc. and editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer. Davidson showed messages from Howard discussing McDougal's requests and the money he was owed. Davidson also showed messages confirming a meeting with Howard and McDougal in June 2016. He stressed that after finishing the negotiations, he called Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer, as a kind of professional courtesy, but that the negotiations were exclusively with Howard.

Signing confidentiality agreements is perfectly legal and former President Trump's team has indicated that it does make sense to hear testimonies related to these negotiations, much less the possible testimonies of the women involved. Some lawyers believe the prosecutor's intention seems to be aimed more at damaging Trump's reputation and delving into details to present him as a womanizer, than at trying to present evidence of a serious crime.

Prosecutors have attempted to present a "catch and kill" scheme to accuse Trump of systematically silencing stories that could damage his image. However, the former president's lawyer has countered by saying that managing negative publicity during a presidential campaign is not illegal and is a standard practice.

Trump's lawyers continue to insist that the specific crime and evidence remain unclear.