Judge threatens Donald Trump with jail time if he defies gag order again: "If I need to, I will"

Judge Juan Merchan has had it with Donald Trump, warning the criminally charged defendant that jail time for defying his gag order could be right around the corner.

"Going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sanction if it is recommended," Merchan said this morning to Trump, now in his fourth week of his stormy hush money trial. Merchan's warning came after holding Trump in contempt of court for the 10th time, fining him another $1,000 for again violating his gag order, according to CBS.

"It appears that the $1,000 fines are not serving as a deterrent. I am concerned about the ramifications of putting you in jail," the judge continued, via MeidasTouch Network. "But I have a job to do, to compel respect for the dignity of the court. Your behavior constitutes a direct attack on the rule of law. If I need to, I will."

But the judge also made it clear that throwing the former twice-impeached president was not an option he relished. "Mr. Trump, the last thing I want to do is put you in jail. You are a former president of the United States and possibly the next one as well."

From CBS:

He said the fines are not having the intended deterrent effect, and said he could impose stiffer penalties in the future.

Merchan found that Trump violated the order in an April 22 interview when he commented on the political makeup of the jury. He said the comments "not only called into question the integrity, and therefore the legitimacy of these proceedings, but again raised the specter of fear for the safety of the jurors and of their loved ones."