Former President Donald Trump, a man who has always lived by his own rules, now finds himself facing a new reality.
This is after he was called to the witness stand in his New York civil fraud case and fined $10,000 for violating a gag order.
This order prohibits him from attacking court personnel, but Trump, as usual, has not backed down, as reported by Associated Press News on Thursday, October 26.
In the courtroom, Trump denied that he was referring to a senior law clerk when he made disparaging comments about someone “sitting alongside” Judge Arthur Engoron.
But the judge saw through it and declared Trump not credible before issuing the fine.
In a fit of anger, Trump stormed out of the courtroom, even though the $10,000 was a mere slap on the wrist for someone of his wealth and stature.
This incident was a preview of the tensions mounting between Trump’s legal and political interests.
He is vying for the Republican presidential nomination while simultaneously facing a multitude of criminal and civil cases.
It highlights the challenges faced by the legal system in dealing with a former president who is showing no respect for the rule of law.
“It’s really a new frontier for the legal system, and the legal system is really struggling with how to control this man who has no respect for the rule of law,” said Jimmy Gurule, a Notre Dame law school professor.
The courts are struggling with how to control Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric while also respecting his free speech rights as a political candidate.
Trump, unlike typical defendants, has used the camera-lined hallway outside the courtroom as his personal campaign stage.
He has held impromptu press conferences, aired his grievances on social media, and regularly targeted Judge Engoron, accusing him of being a “Radical Left Democrat” controlled by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The legal system is finding it difficult to punish Trump in the same way it would other defendants due to his position and wealth.
A $10,000 fine won’t deter him, and the possibility of jailing an ex-president under Secret Service protection presents logistical and political challenges.
This absence of meaningful consequences raises questions about whether Trump is being held to a different standard of law.
Trump has turned his trials into a political spectacle, capitalizing on them by selling merchandise with his mugshot and fundraising off every development.
While this might appeal to some of his supporters, it also helps prosecutors argue that he believes he was above the law.
As Trump’s four criminal trials loom, he is likely to face tougher restrictions and harsher punishments.
In recent cases, judges have revoked bail for defendants who engage in inflammatory actions, such as witness tampering or making threats on social media.
Trump’s ability to abide by gag orders and refrain from attacking judges will be closely watched, especially in the current climate where incendiary remarks could lead to real harm.