Trump trial full coverage: Judge fines Trump for violating gag order, warns of jail time as testimony continues in the criminal hush money case

Donald Trump looks on at his hush money trial in Manhattan criminal court.
Donald Trump at Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool via Reuters)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Judge Juan Merchan delivered a stiff rebuke to Donald Trump at the opening of court Tuesday morning by holding the former president in contempt for nine violations of the gag order in his criminal hush money trial. Merchan fined Trump $9,000 for violating a rule against making public statements about jurors, witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and members of their families. He also warned Trump that he could face incarceration if he continued to violate the order and gave him until 2:15 p.m. to remove social media posts related to the ruling — which he did.

The judge's decision came as prosecutors prepared to resume presenting their case against Trump, who is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election. The third week of the trial — which is expected to last six weeks — will see more testimony from bank officials as well as people who worked for Trump and had firsthand knowledge of the $130,000 payment made to Daniels, who alleged she had an extramarital affair with Trump.

On Tuesday prosecutors called a handful of witnesses to the stand, including Gary Farro, First Republic Bank’s former senior managing director, who testified about working with Michael Cohen to set up an account for a limited liability corporation that was used to pay Daniels, and Keith Davidson, a lawyer who previously represented Daniels and Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who also alleges she had an affair with Trump.

Cohen, who was convicted of tax fraud and lying to Congress while working for Trump, will be called as a witness in the case.

Court will be back in session on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

  • Jury excused for the day

    The jurors have been excused for the day. They are expected to report back on Thursday at 10 a.m.

  • Trump calls gag order 'unconstitutional' as he leaves courthouse for the day

    After the hush money trial wrapped for the day, Trump railed against Judge Merchan's gag order, calling it "unconstitutional."

    "There's no crime, there's no anything here," he added, as he left the Manhattan courthouse..

  • Trump fires off another Truth Social post complaining about judge

    Trump railed against Judge Merchan yet again on Truth Social during the afternoon break. His second post of the afternoon came hours after he was ordered to take down social media posts that violated the gag order issued against him in the hush money trial.

    The latest post likely doesn't violate the gag order since Trump is allowed to talk about the judge.

  • Davidson testifies that Cohen didn't have authority to issue payment

    Once AMI backed out of the deal to buy Stormy Daniels’s story about Trump, Dylan Howard, editor of the National Enquirer, told Daniels’s manager to work directly with Trump fixer Michael Cohen to negotiate a deal.

    Daniels’s manager refused to work with Cohen and asked Keith Davidson to deal with him.

    “The moral of the story is that no one wanted to talk to Cohen,” Davidson testified.

    Eventually, once the $130,000 sum was agreed upon, Davidson said Cohen missed the first payment deadline and continued to make excuses. Davidson said during testimony it was clear to him that Cohen didn’t have the authority to issue the payment.

    When Davidson expressed frustration on behalf of Daniels and threatened to pull out of the deal, Cohen ultimately said, “Goddamnit, I’ll just do it myself,” according to Davidson.

    This transpired, Davidson testified, after the Access Hollywood tape was released and just weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

  • After payment delay, Davidson tells Cohen, 'I don't believe a word really that you say.'

    Davidson told the court that Cohen did not wire the money on the agreed-upon date of Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, and made repeated excuses for his failure to pay on time, including blaming the Secret Service's "f***ed up" computer system, according to CNN.

    After a while, Davidson says he told Cohen, "I don't believe a word really that you say."

  • Davidson: 'Access Hollywood' tape had 'tremendous influence' on interest in Daniels' story

    Davidson, who also represented Stormy Daniels, says there was little interest in Daniels's story about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006 until the release of the infamous "Access Hollywood" hot mic tape in October 2016.

    After that, interest in Daniels's story "reached a crescendo," he said, according to CNN. "So far as I’m aware, it had tremendous influence," Davidson said.

    Davidson said in court that he and Dylan Howard, National Enquirer's editor-in-chief, exchanged text messages about the tape release.

    “Trump is f—," Davidson said in his text to Howard.

    “Wave the white flag. It’s over people!" Howard responded.

  • Davidson says there were two reasons why AMI would buy McDougal's story and not run it

    Keith Davidson testified that there were two reasons why AMI would buy Karen McDougal’s story about her alleged affair with Trump and not run it.

    “I think one explanation that was given was that they were trying to build Karen into a brand and didn’t want to diminish her reputation,” Davidson said, according to CNN. “And second was more of an unspoken understanding that there was a close affiliation between David Pecker and Donald Trump and that AMI would not run this story or any story related to Karen and Donald Trump because it would tend to hurt Donald Trump.”

  • Davidson says he received 45% of the $150,000 McDougal deal

    During prosecutor Joshua Steinglass’s questioning of Keith Davidson, an attorney who represented both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Davidson testified to getting a 45% chunk of McDougal’s $150,000 deal with the National Enquirer.

    The deal was to keep quiet her story that she had an affair with Trump.

  • Here's how to access transcripts from the trial

    The New York State Unified Court System is publishing daily trial transcripts of the People v. Donald J. Trump.

    The court's media website will publish each day's proceedings and the certified transcripts are made available by the end of the next business day.

    You can access them here.

  • Davidson says he tried 'like hell' to avoid talking to Cohen

    Keith Davidson testified about dealing with Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney and fixer, for the first time in 2011. According to the New York Times, Davidson said the interaction was "not pleasant or constructive, and I didn’t particularly like dealing with him, and that’s why I was trying like hell to avoid talking to him."

  • Trump complains about judge in new Truth Social post

    Shortly after removing social media posts that violated the gag order, Trump took to Truth Social to accuse Judge Merchan of taking away his constitutional right to free speech.

    "I am the only Presidential Candidate in History to be GAGGED," he wrote. "This whole 'Trial' is RIGGED."

    The new post likely does not violate the court's gag order, as Trump is permitted to complain about the judge.

  • Keith Davidson resumes his testimony

    A courtroom sketch of lawyer Keith Davidson testifying during Trump's criminal hush money trial on Tuesday.
    Lawyer Keith Davidson during Trump's criminal hush money trial on Tuesday in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass has started his questioning of Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

    According to CNN, the questioning has focused on Davidson’s 2016 texts with National Enquirer editor in chief Dylan Howard: “I can’t believe they are asking me to go back for another 25 but they are. [T]He deal is accepted at 150k. Can u do that?”

    Howard responded: “He just called me. F*** it. Not my money. I’ll ask.”

    Davidson is the sixth witness to be called to the stand in the case so far.

  • Court is back in session

    The trial has resumed after taking a lunch break.

  • Trump takes down social media posts that violated gag order

    While the court broke for lunch, former President Trump removed nine social media posts that Judge Merchan ruled violated the gag order he's under for the hush money trial. Trump was fined $1,000 for each post and threatened with jail time if he continues to violate the order.

    Trump met the deadline to take the posts down by 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday. He also needs to pay the fines by close of business on Friday.

  • Davidson's texts reveal negotiations with National Enquirer for McDougal's story: 'Throw in an ambassadorship for me.'

    The National Enquirer
    Copies of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper on display. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

    Attorney Keith Davidson said former Playboy model Karen McDougal was “teetering” between two offers for story: one from the National Enquirer and the other with ABC News.

    During negotiations in 2016, Davidson texted National Enquirer editor in chief Dylan Howard: “How about 1m now. And 75k per year for next 2 years as a fitness corresponded for ami & ur related pubs,” according to the New York Times.

    Howard responded: "I'll take it to them but thinking it's more hundreds than millions,” which Davidson said he interpreted to mean that Howard was expecting a counter offer that was substantially less. Davidson countered with $800,000 and $100,000 per year, totaling $1 million.

    Howard responded by suggesting the parties were not “in the same ballpark,” according to CNN. Days later, he texted Davidson: “She’ll get more out of a deal with AMI than ABC” and that “We are going to lay it on thick for her.”

    “Good. Throw in an ambassadorship for me. I’m thinking Isle of Man,” Davidson replied, clarifying on the witness stand that his remark was “just a joke.”

  • Davidson regrets text to Howard using the term 'estrogen mafia.'

    According to CNN, Davidson texted Howard on July 22, 2016: "Don’t forget about Cohen. Time is of the essence. The girl is being cornered by the estrogen mafia."

    The text message was sent amid negotiations between the National Enquirer and ABC over the rights for McDougal’s story about an alleged 2006 affair she had with Trump.

    On the stand, Davidson said it “a very unfortunate" text, according to CNN: "That phrase is not one I used or came up with. That was a term, I think, by one of Karen's associates at that first meeting."

    Davidson also noted that several women associates were leaning on McDougal to sign a deal with ABC, the New York Times reported.

  • Davidson pitched Karen McDougal's story to the National Enquirer: 'I have a blockbuster Trump story'

    Lawyer Keith Davidson, who represented former Playboy model Karen McDougal, shows correspondence with former National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard in regards to the sale of McDougal's story of an alleged affair with former U.S. President Donald Trump. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
    Lawyer Keith Davidson shows correspondence with former National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard in regards to the sale of McDougal's story of an alleged affair with Donald Trump. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Davidson also represented Karen McDougal in 2016.

    He confirmed that he arranged a meeting between McDougal and National Enquirer editor in chief Dylan Howard. In that meeting, according to reports, she confirmed the 2006 affair with Trump.

    Ahead of the meeting, according to the New York Times, Davidson texted Howard: "I have a blockbuster Trump story," to which Howard replied, "Did he cheat" on Melania?

    After the meeting ended, Davidson said, he and Howard kept in touch. One follow-up text from Davidson dated June 27, 2016, reportedly read: "It's a story (t)hat should be told...," to which Howard replied: "I agree."

    Davidson also confirmed that he was in talks with ABC News for a potential interview with McDougal, and that he saw it as a way to get McDougal's story in front of National Enquirer publisher David Pecker faster, according to CNN.

  • Davidson recalls 2011 meeting with Cohen about Stormy Daniels

    Davidson, who is testifying pursuant to a subpoena, said he received immunity to testify before a grand jury but did not seek it, per reporters in the courtroom. On the stand, he confirmed he’s had professional relationships with David Pecker, Michael Cohen and Dylan Howard.

    Davidson said he first met Cohen in 2011 about a blog post involving Stormy Daniels and Trump, according to the New York Times. At the time, he said Cohen was working on Trump’s behalf.

  • Keith Davidson, former lawyer for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, called to the stand

    The sixth witness called to the stand is Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

    According to the New York Times, Davidson negotiated two deals before the 2016 election involving hush money payments made to the two women by Trump's camp to keep them from going to the press about alleged affairs they had with Trump.

    McDougal, a former Playboy model, said she was paid $150,000 by the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, for the rights to her story about an affair with Trump beginning in 2006.

    Daniels, an adult film star and the central witness in this case, said she was paid $130,000 by Trump's ex-attorney Michael Cohen to silence her about their own affair, also in 2006.

    The Times reported that Davidson drafted the hush money agreements using the pseudonyms “Peggy Peterson” for Daniels and “David Dennison” for Trump.

  • Multiple Trump deposition videos shown in court

    PhillipThompson's company, Esquire Deposition Solutions, was subpoenaed for the video and written transcript from Trump's taped deposition in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case in October 2022, according to CNN.

    Segments of that deposition were played in court for the jury, who were shown clips of Trump describing what Truth Social is and responding to questions about the Access Hollywood tape.

  • Browning authenticates C-SPAN clips of Trump discussing harassment claims: 'I have no idea who these women are.'

    Robert Browning speaks as he enters video into the court as Donald Trump watches. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
    Robert Browning speaks as the prosecution enters video into the court record as Donald Trump watches. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Clips from C-SPAN videos were entered into evidence and played for Robert Browning while he was on the stand.

    One clip, from an October 2016 Trump campaign rally in North Carolina, shows Trump talking about two women who claimed to have been touched inappropriately by him:

    “I have no idea who these women are,” Trump is heard saying in the clip, according to reporters in the courtroom. “These are lies being pushed by the media and the Clinton campaign to try and keep their grip on our country. They’re all false, totally invented, fiction.” He continued: "As you have seen, right now I’m being viciously attacked with lies and smears. It’s a phony deal. I have no idea who these women are.”

    In another video from January 2017, Trump is heard saying that "Michael Cohen is a very talented lawyer, he’s a good lawyer," according to the New York Times.

    Browning confirmed the authenticity of the videos.

    "While the event is taking place, there’s a producer who is watching the video from beginning to the end to make sure there’s no interruptions in the transmission," he explained on the stand, according to CNN.

  • Prosecution calls Phillip Thompson to the witness stand

    The fifth witness called to the stand is Phillip Thompson, who works for a court reporting company called Esquire Deposition Solutions, according to CNN. He is testifying in response to a subpoena.

  • Robert Browning, executive director of C-SPAN archives, takes the stand

    The fourth witness called to the stand is Robert Browning, the executive director of C-SPAN archives. He's testifying under a subpoena and reportedly traveled from Tippecanoe County, Indiana.

    Analysts at CNN believe his testimony will help get records into evidence. Browning reportedly said upon taking the stand that he's a “little bit” nervous about testifying, which elicited some laughter in the courtroom.

  • Who is Gary Farro and why does he matter?

    Gary Farro testifies, in this courtroom sketch.
    Gary Farro testifies on Friday. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Gary Farro is a former senior managing director at First Republic Bank, where he worked for 15 years. The bank is now defunct and was bought out by JP Morgan Chase in 2023.

    He's the third witness in Donald Trump's hush money trial, where he testified about working with Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen to help orchestrate the $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had sex with Trump in 2006.

    Farro testified that he helped Cohen created an account at First Republic in October 2016 under the entity named Essential Consultants LLC, which is where Daniels's hush money payments were deposited. They were paid to her legal name, Stephanie Clifford.

    On the stand, Farro authenticated email addresses and other business records that were maintained by First Republic in regards to Cohen and the LLC.

  • Blanche runs through quick cross examination of Farro

    Trump attorney Todd Blanche began his cross examination by asking Farro if he would've asked more questions if he'd known that the work he was doing for Michael Cohen involved Cohen's employer, Donald Trump. "I would have asked questions," Farro answered, according to CNN.

    Farro also said that he wouldn't have opened a bank account for Essential Consultants, a shell company, if he'd known what it was.

    "If client told me it was a shell corporation, it would not have been opened," Farro said. "It would give me pause, very frankly."

    Furthermore, Farro testified that he has never spoken with Trump, CNN reported.

    The cross examination of Farro is now over.

  • Texas AG Ken Paxton is attending Trump's hush money trial today

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton arrives with former President Donald Trump at Manhattan criminal court before Trump's trial in New York, Tuesday, April 30, 2024.  (Justin Lane/Pool Photo via AP)
    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday to attend Trump's hush money trial. (Seth Wenig/Pool via AP)

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was spotted by photographers entering the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday.

    Paxton, a Trump supporter, briefly conferred with Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump's presidential campaign, as he entered.

  • Defense begins cross-examination of Farro

    Trump's lead defense attorney, Todd Blanche, has started his cross-examination of Gary Farro, Michael Cohen's former banker.

  • Farro explains how Cohen set up the bank account used to pay Stormy Daniels

    Gary Farro, a former senior managing director at First Republic Bank, is testifying in great detail about how he helped Michael Cohen set up the bank account that was ultimately used to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to cover up her story of an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

    Farro said that he helped Cohen open the account for Essential Consultants, an LLC based in Delaware, on Oct. 26, 2016, with a home equity line of credit, and that Cohen transferred $131,000 into a checking account about 20 minutes after opening it.

    “Everything was urgent with Michael Cohen,” Farro reportedly told the court.

    Farro added that he was unaware the account was used to pay an adult film actress. Had he known, he testified, it would have required additional scrutiny and might not have been opened at all.

    “It is an industry that we do not work with,” he reportedly said.

  • Trump must take down Truth Social posts by 2:15 p.m.; could face jail time if he continues to violate gag order

    Trump must remove seven posts from his Truth Social account as well two posts from his campaign website by 2:15 p.m. ET today, according to a decision made by Judge Merchan.

    The nine posts were in violation of the gag order laid out by Merchan, which prevents Trump from speaking about potential witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff and their family members if those statements interfere with the case. The judge threatened to impose jail time should Trump continue to violate the gag order.

    Read the full ruling here.

  • Judge says Trump can attend his son's graduation

    Judge Juan Merchan said Donald Trump's criminal case won't be held on May 17 in order to allow the former president to attend his son Barron's high school graduation.

    “I don’t think the May 17 date is a problem,” Merchan said. "So Mr. Trump can certainly attend that date, attend his son’s graduation."

  • Judge holds Trump in contempt for 9 gag order violations, must pay $9,000 in fines

    Judge Juan Merchan held Trump in contempt on nine of the first 10 alleged violations of the gag order. Each violation carries a $1,000 fine, which means he must pay a total of $9,000.

    Trump will also face a hearing on Thursday to decide on the last four alleged violations, according to reports, but those won't be read from the bench. Instead, a written order will be made available.

    According to the Associated Press, the gag order enforced by Merchan prevents Trump from making public statements about witnesses concerning their potential testimony. It also prevents him from speaking about “jurors or prospective jurors, and about prosecutors, court staff and their family members if those statements are meant to interfere with the case."

  • Gary Farro resumes his testimony

    Prosecutor Rebecca Mangold has resumed questioning Gary Farro, a former senior managing director at First Republic Bank.

    Farro is expected to testify about how he helped Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen facilitate a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

    Cohen and Daniels are expected to testify for the prosecution later in the trial.

  • Donald Trump has entered the courtroom, alongside son Eric

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump chats with his son Eric Trump during his criminal trial in New York City on April 30, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
    Former U.S. President Donald Trump chats with his son Eric Trump during his criminal trial in New York City on April 30, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Donald Trump has entered the courtroom with his son Eric, who appears to be the first member of his family to attend the criminal trial. According to reporters, the father-son duo were seen chatting by the well area while “scanning faces in the courtroom.”

  • What Trump said as he arrived at the courthouse

    Trump speaks upon arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday. (Seth Wenig/AP)
    Trump speaks upon arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday. (Seth Wenig/Pool via AP)

    Speaking to reporters on his way into the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse for the third week of his hush money trial, former President Trump criticized the case, as he has done routinely since the trial began.

    "This is a case that should never have been brought," Trump said. "This is a disgraceful case."

    Trump also briefly lashed out at Judge Juan Merchan, who he called "conflicted," before moving on to other topics, including the wave of protests on college campuses over the war in Gaza.

    He then returned to the day ahead.

    "I'm gonna go into the ice box now and sit for about eight hours or nine hours," Trump said. "I'd much rather be in Georgia. I'd much rather be in Florida. I'd much rather be in states that are in play. I'd like to be able to campaign."

  • Trump and the jurors rarely look at each other. That's a good sign for our jury system.

    Donald Trump.
    Donald Trump sits at the defendant's table during his criminal trial. (Sarah Yenesel/Pool via Getty Images)

    The 12 jurors and six alternates in Trump's hush money trial rarely look the former president in the eye as they walk past the defense table when they enter and exit the courtroom. The same goes for Trump, who usually whispers with his lawyers as the jurors pass by, according to reports. Experts say that's a good sign.

    “They’ve all taken an oath to judge the case solely on the evidence,” former Manhattan financial crimes prosecutor Diana Florence told Business Insider. “So I think the fact that he is such a bold-faced name and they’re not staring at him is probably a good sign for our jury system.”

  • Trump is on his way to court — with Eric Trump in tow

    Donald Trump has departed Trump Tower and is headed to the Manhattan criminal court. According to CNN, his son Eric Trump was also seen getting in one of the vehicles in the motorcade.

  • Trump has reportedly been complaining about his lawyer

    Todd Blanche appears in Manhattan criminal court in New York.
    Todd Blanche sits at the defense table inside Manhattan criminal court on Friday. (Mark Peterson/Pool via AP)

    Outside the courtroom, Trump has said he's happy about the way the trial is progressing. But the New York Times reports that behind closed doors, the former president has been complaining about his lead defense attorney, Todd Blanche.

    According to the Times, Trump feels Blanche has not been aggressive enough and "wants him to attack witnesses, attack what the former president sees as a hostile jury pool, and attack the judge, Juan M. Merchan."

    "Nearly every lawyer who has ever represented Mr. Trump has spent time in the blast zone," the paper added. "But as he enters the third week of his first criminal trial — one that not only threatens his campaign to become president again, but also could send him to prison — the question of whether his lawyers can win enough leeway from his desires has never loomed larger."

  • What to expect in court today

    • Week three of Donald Trump's hush money trial is scheduled to resume in Manhattan criminal court at 9:30 a.m. ET.

    • Gary Farro, a former senior managing director at First Republic Bank, is expected to return to the witness stand today to testify about his time helping Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen facilitate a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

    • Judge Juan Merchan has yet to issue a ruling on whether he’ll hold Trump in contempt for violating a gag order that bars him from talking publicly about trial witnesses, the prosecutors, court staff and their families.

    • Prosecutors have asked Merchan to fine Trump $1,000 for each of 14 violations they allege he’s committed since the trial began. They also want Merchan to warn Trump that if he continues to violate the gag order, he could end up in jail.

    • Merchan, who heard arguments about 10 of the alleged violations last week, has scheduled another hearing for Thursday to weigh the four other alleged violations.