Despite a bond provision that specifically bars Donald Trump from making threatening statements related to his trial on social media and elsewhere, MSNBC’s “American Voices” noted Sunday that the former president has “barely toned down his threats” since his historic arrest in Fulton County, Georgia, on Aug. 24.
Speaking with guest host Julian Castro on the program, former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks suggested that the only thing that will keep the embattled politician from making such threats would be incarceration.
“A fine is not going to work,” Wine-Banks said, noting that Trump is already facing a second defamation lawsuit from E. Jean Carroll after being found liable for sexual abuse in May.
As part of Trump’s $200,000 bond package he agreed to out of Fulton County, where he faces charges relating to efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results, the former president is barred from making direct or indirect threats against witnesses or his 18 codefendants in the case, per Reuters.
Noting, however, a recent social media video addressed to Republicans in which he called for an “eye for an eye,” Castro asked Wine-Banks on Sunday where the line is for what constitutes a threat that would be in conflict with that agreement.
“Speaking of revenge, Trump has barely toned down his threats on social media,” Castro said. “He recently demanded an eye for an eye in a video addressed to Republicans. What would actually count as Trump violating his bond in Fulton County? I think a lot of people want to know: What does he have to do to get into trouble here?”
Wine-Banks quickly noted that such an agreement is not unique to Fulton County. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who’s overseeing Trump’s third indictment — which relates to alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection — warned the former president in August to “take special care in your public statements about this case.”
“Even arguably ambiguous statements from parties or their counsel, if they can be reasonably interpreted to intimidate witnesses or to prejudice potential jurors, can threaten the process,” Chutkan said at the time.
“I’m afraid that he is skirting the line,” Wine-Banks said of statements made in the weeks since. “Obviously any judge is going to be very careful before stopping a candidate for president from commenting on evidence. But it’s when he gets to the threatening part, when he starts threatening his opponent — but that doesn’t count as the trial. It’s only when he threatens a witness or a codefendent that he will be violating it.
“And then the question is: What can a judge do?” she continued. “Because really, there’s very little, except for incarcerating him, and judges are not going to want to do that. A fine is not going to work. If it did, he wouldn’t have a second defamation case by E. Jean Carroll. Because after the first sentence and the fine that he got, you would’ve thought that he wouldn’t have repeated the same defamation, but he did. So money, which he’s raising from people who are making small donations, it’s not his money that’s paying the fine, it’s their money. So it’s not going to stop him. It’s going to take something more than a fine to stop him from saying these horrible things.”
Watch the full “American Voices” interview in the video above.
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