Donald Trump’s Gag Order Violations May Require Prison Time: Attorney

Donald Trump risks prison time if he is reprimanded for breaching a gag order in his hush-money case and refuses to comply by removing social media posts, according to a top legal analyst.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and frequent Trump critic, said that if it is ruled that the former president broke the order, is ordered to take social media posts down and refuses to do so, the Republican may see prison time instead of a fine.

Judge Juan Merchan imposed a gag order on Trump in March, which prohibits the Republican from making public comments about prosecutors, witnesses or jurors in the case, or their families, in the high-profile hush-money case, which will determine whether Trump falsified business records over payments to former adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep an alleged affair secret before the 2016 election, as alleged in a criminal indictment. Trump has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges against him in the case.

The gag order was expanded in April to include prohibitions on Trump making statements about Merchan’s family and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Meanwhile, Merchan scheduled a hearing on Tuesday over claims that Trump’s social media posts linking to articles that attacked his former lawyer Michael Cohen or claimed that “undercover liberal activists” are lying to the judge to get on the jury were a violation of the gag order.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaks to the media outside the courtroom during his trial for allegedly covering up hush-money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 23, 2024 in New York City. Joyce Vance suggested that if…

Photo by Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images

Prosecutors have asked the judge to fine Trump $10,000 in total for 10 violations but the Judge held off on making a ruling during the Tuesday hearing.

Vance, one of the first five U.S. attorneys, and the first female U.S. attorney, nominated by then-President Barack Obama, wrote that if Trump removes the posts eventually “it would be a defeat.”

“The DA has asked Judge Merchan to fine Trump & order him to remove offending social media posts,” she said. “We haven’t focused on that second part as much as we should. For Trump to remove those posts would be the kind of concession he seems incapable of making, it would be a defeat.”

She continued: “If the Judge orders Trump to remove the posts & his doesn’t, then it would be clear a fine alone was insufficient to enforce the gag order & some custodial time would be clearly merited. These sort of incremental steps require patience but also build a flawless case.”

Newsweek contacted a representative for Trump by email to comment on this story.

Meanwhile, legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann suggested Merchan should impose a monitor for the ex-president’s social media posts to ensure compliance with his gag order.

“If Judge Merchan doesn’t want to put Trump in jail now for contempt, he should impose a monitor now to screen his social media so they don’t violate the gag order,” he wrote on X.

The hush-money trial is in its second week and resumes on Thursday.