An appeals court in New York has reinstated the gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump by Justice Arthur Engoron, rejecting the former president’s bid to avoid restrictions on his freedom to speak about aspects of his civil fraud trial that he has denounced as politically motivated.
Justice Engoron, who is presiding over President Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, initially imposed the order in early October after President Trump accused the judge’s top clerk of political bias in a post on social media.
President Trump hasn’t commented publicly on the latest development and his campaign didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
President Trump’s attorneys had previously criticized the order as a violation of his freedom of speech.
BackgroundA day after President Trump’s trial began in a civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the former president made a Truth Social post about Allison Greenfield, Justice Engoron’s principal law clerk.
The post included a screenshot of a photo of her posing with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a political event, with President Trump labeling Ms. Greenfield as a Democratic Party loyalist.
“Schumer’s girlfriend, Allison R. Greenfield, is running this case against me. How Disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately,” President Trump wrote in the post, which he subsequently deleted after the judge was made aware of the post and issued a verbal gag order in court on the same day.
However, President Trump was later fined $5,000 after Justice Engoron was informed that one of the former president’s campaign websites retained a page archiving the original Truth Social post. The former president was fined another $10,000 when he mentioned in remarks to the press a “partisan” person sitting “alongside” the judge, although he didn’t identify the person by name.
Later, the judge expanded the gag order to include President Trump’s attorneys, prohibiting them from making statements about the judge’s staff or about communications between himself and his staff members.
Gag Order PauseAfter President Trump’s attorneys filed an appeal to have the gag order lifted, the New York appeals court temporarily suspended the order on Nov. 16.
Judge Friedman questioned Justice Engoron’s authority to restrict the former president’s speech outside the courtroom, noting that gag orders are normally issued in criminal cases, when a defendant’s public statements might sway the jury.
After the order was temporarily lifted, President Trump swiftly reacted by criticizing Justice Engoron and his clerk.
Justice Engoron, a Democrat, argued that his gag order against the former president was needed because of alleged attacks and threats against his staffers.
ThreatsCharles Hollon, the court officer with the New York Department of Public Safety, wrote in the affidavit that Ms. Greenfield’s personal information, including her personal cellphone number and personal email addresses, had been compromised “resulting in daily doxxing.”
“She has been subjected to, on a daily basis, harassing, disparaging comments, and antisemitic tropes,” Mr. Hollon added.
While the affidavit doesn’t include the threatening messages allegedly made against Ms. Greenfield, it does include transcripts of menacing voicemails left on Justice Engoron’s chambers telephone.
“You should be assassinated. You should be killed,” reads one message.
“Arthur, you are a corrupt Nazi and one of the ugliest people to ever walk the face of the earth. And your clerk, who’s also [a] corrupt Nazi is a fat [expletive] who [expletive] Chuck Schumer and everybody knows it,” reads another. “You are such a lowlife.”
Mr. Hollon wrote that threats against Justice Engoron and Ms. Greenfield can be deemed “serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative,” and that the messages received by the judge and his staff “created an ongoing security risk for the judge, his staff and his family.”
He added that the flood of threatening messages had caused the judicial threats assessment unit to have to constantly reassess what security protections should be put in place to ensure the safety of the judge and people around him.
In the case against President Trump, Ms. James, a Democrat, has alleged that he and his real estate company, The Trump Organization, defrauded banks, insurers, and others by allegedly overvaluing his assets and exaggerated his net worth on paperwork that was used in deals and to secure loans.
President Trump has denied liability and accused Ms. James of waging a politically motivated prosecution meant to derail his 2024 presidential campaign. He is currently by far the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.