Trump Says He’s Ready to Go to Jail to Keep Flaming His Enemies

Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images
Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump is ready to serve time to protect his constitutional right to freedom of speech, which he insists includes continuing to flap his gums about the people involved in his criminal hush-money case in New York.

The former president said as much in remarks to reporters after court adjourned for the day on Monday, the 12th day of his trial.

“I have to watch every word I tell you people… because this judge has given me a gag order and said, ‘You’ll go to jail if you violate it,’” Trump said. “And frankly, you know what? Our Constitution is much more important than jail. It’s not even close. I’ll do that sacrifice any day.”

Justice Juan Merchan had earlier found Trump in contempt over his gag order, which bars the defendant from speaking publicly about witnesses, jurors, and most others associated with the case, for the 10th time. Once more, Merchan warned, and it could mean much more than the $1,000 fine he handed down on Monday.

“It appears that the $1,000 fines are not serving as a deterrent,” the judge said. “Therefore, going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sanction. Mr. Trump, it’s important to understand the last thing I want to do is put you in jail. You are the former president of the United States, and possibly the next one as well.

“The magnitude of this decision is not lost on me, but at the end of the day I have a job to do,” he continued. “So as much as I don’t want to impose a jail sanction… I want you to understand that I will if necessary and appropriate.”

Prosecutors have indicated they have no interest in Merchan imposing jail as a last resort as of yet, having suggested in earlier court filings that throwing Trump behind bars would be a distraction to the case.

A violation of the gag order is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a jail term of up to 30 days, or both. It was imposed by Merchan earlier this year, and was expanded to protect members of his own family after Trump went after the judge’s daughter on Truth Social early last month. The order does not protect Merchan or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

But Trump appears unruffled by the specter of prison time—as well as the $10,000 in fines he’s already accrued. The latest violation came as a result of comments he made during an April 22 phone interview on the Real America’s Voice network, suggesting that his jury was “95 percent Democrats.”

Outside the Manhattan courthouse, he also complained about the case stretching on for another two to three weeks, as expected, calling the timeline “election interference” and “a disgrace.” He suggested that Merchan was “so happy” about the trial dragging on “because they all want to keep me off the campaign trail.”

The former president added, “This is just a political witch hunt.”

The trial will resume on Tuesday morning. Trump, charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records, has denied all wrongdoing.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass told the court that prosecutors would need around a fortnight from tomorrow to wrap up their case, after which point the defense will be able to start calling their witnesses.

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