NY Judge Issues New Gag Order in Trump Fraud Case

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
November 3, 2023New York
NY Judge Issues New Gag Order in Trump Fraud Case
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally at Trendsetter Engineering Inc. in Houston on Nov. 2, 2023. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron issued a new gag order on Friday, this time prohibiting former President Donald Trump’s attorneys from making remarks about his staff after defense attorneys clashed with the judge in court that morning over the issue.

The justice explained in his written order that he had originally imposed the gag order “only upon the parties, operating under the assumption that such a gag order would be unnecessary upon the attorneys, who are officers of the Court.”

Then he named Trump attorneys Christopher Kise, Clifford Robert, and Alina Habba, writing that they repeatedly made, on the record, “inappropriate remarks about my Principal Law Clerk, falsely accusing her of bias against them and of improperly influencing the ongoing bench trial.”

“Defendants’ attorneys have made long speeches alleging that it is improper for a judge to consult with a law clerk during ongoing proceedings, and that the passing of notes from a judge to a law clerk, or vice-versa, constitutes an improper ‘appearance of impropriety’ in this case. These arguments have no basis,” he wrote.

“My law clerks are public servants who are performing their jobs in the manner in which I request. This includes providing legal authority and opinions, as well as responding to questions I pose them,” he said.

He additionally dismissed the defense attorneys’ First Amendment arguments on Friday against the gag order he had imposed on President Trump, writing that his order had been “as narrowly tailored as possible to accomplish its purpose, which is to protect the safety of my staff and promote the orderly progression of this trial.”

He prohibited all counsel from making any statements that “refer to any confidential communications, in any form, between my staff and me.”

“Failure to abide by this directive shall result in serious sanctions,” he wrote.

Original Gag Order

The trial for the case brought against President Trump by New York Attorney General Letitia James began on Oct. 2, and a gag order was issued one day later.

President Trump had made a Truth Social post wherein he named Allison Greenfield, Justice Engoron’s principal law clerk, and included a screenshot from her Instagram where she posed for a photo with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). He accused Ms. Greenfield of being partisan and biased against him, and having the judge’s ear.

Ten minutes later, the post was deleted, and the parties met with the judge in a closed-door meeting later revealed to be a discussion about the matter. Justice Engoron said in court that all parties were prohibited from making public statements, including posting and emailing, about any members of his staff, and that this was a formal gag order.

When the judge learned that a Trump campaign website had failed to delete the archived Truth Social post, he fined President Trump $5,000.

On Oct. 25, President Trump made another statement to reporters outside the courtroom, using no names. “This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even more partisan than he is,” he said.

Justice Engoron learned, through an Associated Press reporter, of the remarks and brought them up in court after the break. Mr. Kise said President Trump had been referring to Michael Cohen, who was testifying that day, and President Trump said the same when the judge called an impromptu hearing and put him on the witness stand.

The judge deemed this not credible, pointing to the fact that the defense has frequently made remarks about Mr. Cohen’s pattern of dishonesty but made no mention of his politics. He fined President Trump another $10,000.

During the hearing, Ms. Habba had said that she didn’t appreciate Ms. Greenfield “rolling her eyes” at her while she questioned witnesses, pointing out that she did have an influence on the bench.

The topic has come up more than once in court, and on Friday morning, Mr. Kise pressed the judge on the matter at length.

“I think it is a legitimate question that needs to be addressed. President Trump, as you know, is here and has made a statement about bias. It is a fair conclusion that in your warnings to counsel, the purpose is to silence any challenge,” he said. “We all need to take this seriously because the whole world is watching. There is at least a plausible basis to raise inferences of bias.”

Mr. Kise had protested against the judge’s constant overruling of objections from the defense and for pushing them to hurry up, claiming that the judge did not treat the prosecution equally. He added for the record that Ms. Greenfield and the judge frequently exchanged notes, fostering an appearance of impropriety and lack of transparency.

Justice Engoron, in turn, accused Mr. Kise of viewing his principal law clerk as a low-level legal secretary and accused him of misogyny, which Mr. Kise denied.

Michael Washburn contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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