It would seem to appear that several of our nation's judges are not quick learners: Even after defendant Donald Trump continues to ignore their orders over and over again, the jurists presiding over his four indictments are treating him with kid gloves.
Trump often complains that he's being singled out for unfair treatment when facing trial for fraud, document theft, and attempting to subvert a United States election. Special treatment is more like it: Judges are bending over backward to let Trump keep getting away with things other defendants wouldn't, and until a judge is willing to dump him in a jail cell overnight to remind him that judicial orders are not optional, Trump is only going to keep defying them.
On Wednesday, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron fined Donald Trump $10,000 for once again publicly targeting Engoron and his clerk in disparaging social media posts. This was after Engoron previously fined Trump $5,000 for the same offense.
Presuming Trump keeps violating the order ostensibly barring him from targeting the court, the prosecution team, and witnesses in the case once a week for a year, his loose lips would still cost him only a bit above a half million bucks. Trump might consider that a small price to pay to stoke continued death threats against his most visible "enemies." He's also likely to get his presidential campaign to pay the bill, claiming the fines as legal expenses.
We'll find out, because the latest fine didn't do a thing to stop Trump from again taking to social media to again blast the judge, declaring Thursday morning that Engoron "HAS GONE CRAZY IN HIS HATRED OF TRUMP."
He again used a racist term to refer to New York Attorney General Letitia James. And the transparent intent of each post was to stoke hatred of his targets, adding to the threats and again ratcheting up his attempted intimidation in what may at some point become a repeat of the sort of violence he successfully directed at the United States Congress and his own vice president on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump has a history of goading his base into violence, so judges by this point should be treating him as they would treat any mafia boss. He also uses social media to signal what he wants to hear from witnesses in his cases:
Judges, however, continue to bend over backward to avoid dishing out the sort of consequences Trump might truly fear. Engoron quickly granted a Trump team request to reconsider the $10,000 imposed fine, though he ultimately kept the fine in place. Trump will face no consequences for his threatening signals to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in his federal election interference case; U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan had put a temporary pause on her own prior order barring Trump from making comments to or about witnesses.
At some point a judge may decide that enough is enough, but in preparation for when that day arrives judges need to know that threatening Trump with petty fines that he's going to get his donors to pay isn't going to get his attention. This is obvious and after Engoron’s latest fine was completely ignored, it's now proven fact.
There's only one consequence that Engoron or other judges can impose on Trump that he would actually care about, and that is an order to spend a night or two in a jail cell. That means much more to Trump than any $10,000 fine. It means more than a $100,000 or $500,000 fine, too, because while Trump can shove each of those bills at his own campaign or foist them on the Republican Party itself, Trump cannot delegate an order that he park his behind in a cinder-block cell to reflect on what defiance of a judicial order might mean.
There are two things Trump cares about more than anything in this world. The first is looking like a big shot, and the second is getting to use his own toilet at night (golden or otherwise).
You can't strip him of the first one, but the toilet thing? Judge Engoron has broad power to force Trump to use a jail cell toilet for a night. And no matter how brave a face Trump puts on afterward in subsequent social media posts, using a toilet designed for a poor person will cause the man real trauma.
Enough is enough. We've all seen judges give a former "president" proper deference, even if he is a coup-attempting document hoarder who discloses national security secrets during casual country club conversation. Now treat Trump as you'd treat any other criminal defendant coming through your doors with a history of successfully stoking violence and death threats against government figures he doesn't like.
Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this story, Judge Engoron’s name was misspelled as Erdogan.
Federal prosecutors urge judge to reinstate Trump gag order, citing comments about ex-chief of staff
Trump is fined $10,000 over a comment he made outside court in his New York civil fraud trial
Judge in Trump's NY civil fraud case stands by $10,000 fine despite fresh objections from lawyers
In court faceoff, Michael Cohen testifies against Trump in fraud trial