Trump Calls Jail Time for Free Speech a Willing Sacrifice

( – After being fined another $1,000 on May 6 for violating the gag order imposed by Judge Juan Merchan, former President Donald Trump said he is willing to “sacrifice” going to jail to protect free speech.

While outside the Manhattan, New York, courtroom, Trump said he has to “watch every word” because of Merchan’s gag order, noting that Merchan told him he could face jail time if he violates the gag order again. Trump continued, saying that the “Constitution is much more important than jail.”

Trump noted that the trial is expected to continue for at least two more weeks, adding that means “the government” wants to keep him off the campaign trail for two or three weeks, calling the case “election interference.”

Trump’s comments come after Merchan fined Trump $9,000 on April 30 for violating the gag order nine times and an additional $1,000 on May 6 for a separate violation. After his April 30 ruling, Merchan said because the court cannot “impose a fine more commensurate with the wealth of the contemnor,” jail could be necessary.

In his May 6 ruling, Merchan repeated the statements, saying it’s “clear” the maximum fine of $1,000 is not an effective deterrent. Merchan added that Trump may face “incarceratory punishment” if he continues to willfully violate the gag order if such punishment is “necessary and appropriate.” Violations of the gag order can be punishable with no more than 30 days in jail.

The gag order, imposed by Merchan before the hush money trial began, bans Trump from making public comments about prosecutors, the jury, witnesses, or their families. Merchan expanded the gag orders to include the family of the judge and the family of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump has repeatedly said the gag order is a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech and an attempt to silence him and his supporters.

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