Judge issues limited gag order in civil fraud trial after Trump called out apparent bias of top law clerk

 October 4, 2023

The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York City issued a limited gag order applicable to all parties in the case with respect to court personnel and staffers, the Associated Press reported.

That order, which carried with it the threat of "serious sanctions," was issued Tuesday afternoon after Trump had repeatedly criticized the apparent bias of New York Justice Arthur Engoron's chief law clerk, Allison Greenfield, including by posting on social media a picture of her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Judge issues gag order with regard to court personnel

CNN reported that Judge Engoron said in court on Tuesday, "This morning one of the defendants posted on (a) social media account a disparaging untrue and personally-identifying post about a member of my staff. Although I have since ordered the post deleted and apparently it was, it was also emailed out to millions of other recipients."

"Personal attacks of any member of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I will not tolerate them," he added. "Consider this statement an order forbidding all parties from posting, emailing, or speaking publicly about any members of my staff. Failure to abide by this … will result in serious sanctions."

The outlet noted that former President Trump, who was in attendance for the first two days of the trial despite his presence not being required, stared straight ahead and did not display any sort of obvious reaction to the judge's order in relation to critiques of Greenfield, including the picture he posted that was deleted shortly after a closed-door meeting that involved the judge and attorneys for both sides.

Trump called out, highlighted apparent bias of judge's law clerk

CNN noted that Trump had criticized Greenfield, albeit not by name, amid remarks to reporters outside the courtroom Monday during a break in the proceedings that were mostly focused on criticizing the evident anti-Trump bias displayed by Judge Engoron, who already ruled that Trump was guilty and liable for fraud ahead of the trial, and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

During his remarks, in which he called Engoron a "disgrace" who was "getting away with murder" and should be "disbarred," said of Greenfield, "And his clerk should not be allowed to be in his ear on every single question. Take a look at what is happening with her. She hates Trump more than he does."

Politico reported that the judge issued an "off the record" warning to Trump on Monday to not make mention of his staffers following those comments, but that was apparently ignored as the former president proceeded to post the picture of Greenfield with Sen. Schumer, and labeled her as "Schumer's girlfriend," Tuesday morning.

However, as Trump had insinuated in his Monday remarks, the outlet noted that Greenfield has been seated directly beside the judge throughout the trial thus far and had "played a prominent role" and been "active" in all of the case's proceedings leading up to and during the trial that began this week.

That includes often asking the judge's questions for attorneys on his behalf or being consulted by him immediately prior to his making statements or issuing orders to the court.

Not the first gag order issued or considered against Trump

Politico reported that this limited gag order from Judge Engoron comes as former President Trump has already been hit with a gag order in another New York case and faces another potential gag order in a federal case in Washington D.C.

In New York, Justice Juan Merchan issued a protective order that blocks Trump from being informed about the names of or any personally identifying information about any personnel or staffers in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, with an exception for any law enforcement officials or prosecutors involved in the case, at least until after a jury is selected and seated.

Meanwhile, in D.C., District Judge Tanya Chutkan is considering a proposed gag order to silence Trump that was submitted by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who cited the former president's history of launching personal attacks against the court system as a whole and, more particularly, judges, prosecutors, and potential witnesses who stand against him.

In both instances, prosecutors warned that Trump's personal critiques on social media or in public statements constituted harassment and intimidation and have resulted in threats made by others against his targets that have placed them and their families at grave risk.

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