Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial in Manhattan, made a stunning admission on Monday as he weighed what he perceives to be a new violation of his gag order.

Merchan, who fined Trump another $1,000 for the violation which was related to a post on his Truth Social platform, admitted that 45 could be the 47th president in just a matter of months, which had a bearing on the situation as he threatened Trump with jail for future violations.

“Defendant violated the Order by making public statements about the jury and how it was selected,” Merchan wrote according to CNN. “In doing so, Defendant 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.”

“It appears that the $1,000 fines are not serving as a deterrent. Therefore going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sanction,” Merchan said, according to the AP. Trump’s continued statements, he added, “threaten to interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitute a direct attack on the rule of law. I cannot allow that to continue.” But he said jailing the former and possibly future president was “the last thing I want to do.”

“You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next president as well. There are many reasons why incarceration is truly a last resort for me. To take that step would be disruptive to these proceedings,” Merchan admitted.

Some political and legal experts have speculated that while Trump is using the trial itself to garner sympathy and bolster his poll numbers, actually incarcerating him would likely increase both sympathy towards him as well as his polling.

Testimony resumed on Monday with other individuals deeply entrenched in Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 campaign. Last Friday, jurors heard from Hope Hicks, the former top communications staffer during Trump’s 2016 campaign and throughout the first year of his administration.

Hicks dealt a blow to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s assertions that Trump disguised a six-figure hush money payment to an adult film star as a business expense, suggesting it should have been categorized as a political campaign expense instead. According to Hicks, Trump’s primary concern was safeguarding his family and former First Lady Melania Trump from defamation.

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