Furious judge considers jailing Donald Trump to stop him flouting gag order in hush money trial

A judge has found Donald Trump in contempt of court for repeatedly violating a gag order in his hush money case - as he warned he could be jailed if he does it again.

The former president was on Tuesday ordered to pay a fine of $9,000 (£7,100) for breaking the order, which barred him from making public statements about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the case.

Prosecutors had alleged 10 violations, but New York Judge Juan M Merchan found there were nine.

The ruling was still a stinging rebuke for the Republican former president, who had insisted he was exercising his free speech rights.

Mr Merchan wrote that Trump "is hereby warned that the Court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment."

Trump stared down at the table in front of him as the judge read the ruling, frowning slightly.

Manhattan prosecutors say Trump and his associates took part in an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential campaign by burying negative stories. He has pleaded not guilty.

The contempt of court ruling came at the start of the second week of testimony in the historic case.

Trump must pay the fine by the close of business on Friday, Mr Merchan said in a written ruling.

He must remove seven offending posts from his Truth Social account and two from his campaign website by 2.15pm EDT on Tuesday, the judge said.

Mr Merchan is also weighing other alleged gag order violations by Trump and will hear arguments on Thursday.

Court was resuming on Tuesday with Gary Farro, a banker who helped Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen open accounts, including one that Cohen used to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels.

She alleged a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, which he denies.

Jurors so far have heard from two other witnesses. Trump's former longtime executive assistant, Rhona Graff, recounted that she recalled once seeing Daniels at Trump's office suite in Trump Tower and thought the performer was a potential contestant for one of Trump's Apprentice-brand shows.

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker laid out how he agreed to serve as the Trump campaign's "eyes and ears", by helping to quash unflattering rumours and claims about Trump and women.

Through detailed testimony on email exchanges, business transactions and bank accounts, prosecutors are forming the foundation of their argument that Trump is guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with the hush money payments.

The prosecution is leading up to crucial testimony from Cohen himself, who went to federal prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and other crimes.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.