STORY: The former president is in court for the second day of his trial on charges he falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment before the 2016 election to buy port star Stormy Daniels' silence about a sexual encounter she says they had in 2006.

Vida Johnson, an associate law professor at Georgetown University, said that Trump is likely the beneficiary of his wealth and power, and that a less privileged citizen could have already faced penalties as severe as imprisonment.

Judge Juan Merchan is considering whether Trump should be punished for violating a gag order that prevents him from criticizing witnesses and others involved in the case.

Prosecutors are asking Merchan to fine Trump for criticizing Stormy Daniels and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, both of whom are expected to testify. They also have highlighted Trump's claim last week that people were lying to get on the jury so they could convict him.

Merchan could opt to fine Trump $1,000 for each of those violations, as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office has requested.

Those fines, Georgetown Law's Vida Johnson told Reuters, are relatively mild.

"It is absolutely common in courthouses around the country for judges when they use their contempt power, to hold people in contempt of court and they face jail time," she said.

"It appears to me that Trump is the beneficiary of any politics that might be at play. And I think those politics are that he's a wealthy person with a lot of power, and that's why both the prosecutors haven't asked for more serious sanctions."

Justice Merchan said on Tuesday he would not immediately rule on the fine request, but he appeared unmoved by Trump defense lawyer Todd Blanche's arguments that Trump was responding to political attacks, not intimidating witnesses.

"You've presented nothing," Merchan said. "I've asked you eight, or nine times, show me the exact post he was responding to. You've not even been able to do that once."

"I have to tell you right now, you're losing all credibility with the court," the judge added.

After the session, Trump repeated his claim that the gag order violated his constitutional free speech rights, calling the proceedings a "kangaroo court".

On Tuesday, the first trial witness, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, testified that he used his supermarket tabloid to suppress stories that might have hurt Trump's 2016 presidential bid.