A New York judge said Thursday he would reconsider fining Donald Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order barring the former president from speaking publicly about court staff during his civil fraud trial.
Justice Arthur Engoron fined Trump for the second time Wednesday after he again appeared to violate the order by making an apparent reference to his top clerk in comments before news cameras outside the courtroom.
Trump's lawyer Christopher Kise argued Thursday that Engoron had misinterpreted Trump's comments and was impinging on his right to free speech.
"I'll reconsider the sanctions decision, because I do want to see the clip and the transcript," Engoron said.
"Unless I say otherwise, the decision stands," he added.
Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 U.S. election, is accused in the lawsuit by Democratic New York Attorney Letitia James of inflating his assets by billions of dollars to secure better loan terms and insurance premiums.
In his comments to reporters on Wednesday, Trump said "this judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who's very partisan sitting alongside of him."
It is standard practice in New York state court for clerks to sit next to judges, with the witness box on the other side.
Briefly called to the stand to explain the comment Wednesday, Trump said he was referring to witness Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer.
Engoron imposed the gag order on Oct. 3 after Trump shared on social media the name and photo of the judge's top clerk and suggested she was politically biased. He had fined Trump $5,000 on Oct. 20 after a screenshot of the since-deleted post remained visible on Trump's campaign site for weeks.
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