Insults, racism claims swirl amid fight over gag order in Trump civil fraud case
As Donald Trump's New York civil fraud trial continues apace, the atmosphere inside and outside of the courtroom remains fraught with rancor – that includes claims of racism – that have sparked a separate battle over a gag order against the former president, as ABC News reports.
Though presiding Judge Arthur Engoron last month issued restrictions on what Trump can say for the duration of the proceedings, his order was subsequently stayed by an appellate judge pending further argument and review, and in the intervening days, the former president has lobbed even more of his trademark barbs at those involved in his prosecution.
Trump's Thanksgiving wishes
As evidence of the heated atmosphere in which the civil fraud trial is progressing, particularly in the context of the gag order battle, Trump took to his Truth Social platform early Thanksgiving morning to offer acerbic greetings to those connected to the case.
The Messenger noted that Trump wrote, “Happy Thanksgiving to ALL, including the Racist & Incompetent Attorney General of New York State, Letitia 'Peekaboo' James, who has let Murder & Violent Crime FLOURISH, & Businesses FLEE.”
It was primarily due to an investigation launched by James that Trump was ultimately brought up on charges alleging that he artificially inflated the value of business assets and his net worth in order to secure more favorable terms from lenders and insurers over the course of many years.
Ever since, Trump has engaged in a public war of words with James, whom he accuses of having campaigned on a platform of bringing him down, in whatever manner necessary and regardless of the veracity of any charges brought against him.
Engoron, staffer catches wratch
It was not only AG James who was a target of Trump's holiday ire, as Judge Engoron and one of his key staffers also merited mentions in his online expositions on Thursday.
The former president characterized Engoron as “the Radical Left Trump Hating Judge,” also labeling him a “Psycho” and accusing him of having “Criminally Defrauded the State of New York & ME, by purposely Valuing my Assets at a “tiny” Fraction of what they are really worth in order to convict me of Fraud before even a Trial, or seeing an PROOF....”
Trump also took aim at Engoron's chief law clerk, Alison Greenfield, who has been a target of his critiques throughout the trial thus far.
The former president decried Greenfield as Engoron's “Politically Biased & Corrupt Campaign Finance Violator” and someone the judge needed “to sit by his side on the “Bench” & tell him what to do.”
Gag order in the balance
Trump was clearly taking advantage of his current window of opportunity to make such incendiary statements online about individuals connected to his legal battles, which exists due to the stay currently in place on Engoron's prior gag order.
However, there remains a possibility that the limitations on Trump's speech will be restored – at least in some form or fashion – now that an attorney for Engoron has submitted a filing arguing in support of its reinstatement, citing an uptick in threats against the judge and his staff.
The lawyer referenced a report from the Judicial Threats Assessment Unit of the New York State Court System's Department of Public Safety, which said, “The threats against Justice Engoron and Ms. Greenfield are considered to be serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative.”
A response from Trump's legal team is due Monday, and at some point after that, the appeals court will determine whether the gag order should be lifted in its entirety or if its limitation on the former president should resume.