Appeals court reinstates gag order against Trump in NY fraud trial

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Former President Donald Trump (IL file photo)

A New York appeals court Thursday reinstated a gag order that barred Donald Trump from commenting about court personnel after he disparaged a law clerk in his New York civil fraud trial.

The one-sentence decision from a four-judge panel came two weeks after an individual appellate judge had put the order on hold while the appeals process played out.

Trial Judge Arthur Engoron, who imposed the gag order, said he now planned to enforce it “rigorously and vigorously.”

Trump attorney Christopher Kise called it “a tragic day for the rule of law.”

Engoron imposed the initial gag order Oct. 3 after Trump posted a derogatory comment about the judge’s law clerk to social media. The post, which included a baseless allegation about the clerk’s personal life, came the second day of the trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit.

James alleges Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals. Trump denies any wrongdoing. The former president, now the front-runner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, contends the lawsuit is a political attack by James, a Democrat.

Engoron later fined Trump $15,000 for violating the gag order and expanded it to include his lawyers after they questioned clerk Allison Greenfield’s prominent role on the bench, where she sits alongside the judge, exchanging notes and advising him during testimony.

Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Engoron that challenged his gag order as an abuse of power.

State lawyers had sought to tie Trump’s comments to an uptick in nasty calls and messages directed at the judge and law clerk.

A court security captain wrote in a sworn statement last week that Greenfield has been receiving 20-30 calls per day to her personal cell phone and 30-50 messages per day on social media, LinkedIn and to two personal email addresses.

Since the gag order was lifted, the captain said, about half of the harassing and disparaging messages Greenfield received were antisemitic. The captain reported that the hundreds of harassing voicemails she received were the equivalent of a transcript with 275 single-spaced pages.

Trump had posted about Greenfield as recently as Wednesday, referring to the judge’s “very disturbed and angry law clerk.”

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