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New York Appeals Court Reinstates Gag Order Against Donald Trump in Civil Fraud Trial

A New York appellate court has reinstated a gag order prohibiting former President Donald Trump and attorneys from making public statements about the courtroom staff in the ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial. Judge Arthur Engoron originally issued the order barring Trump from making public statements about his court’s staff after Trump made numerous comments about a clerk, who Trump says is biased against him.

Hundreds of threats against Engoron and the law clerk were made public last week. Engoron’s clerk has received 20 to 30 calls per day to her personal cell phone and 30 to 50 messages daily on social media platforms and two personal email addresses, according to court papers.

“Now, upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon, It is ordered that the motion is denied; the interim relief granted by order of a Justice of this Court, dated November 16, 2023, is hereby vacated,” the latest appellate ruling says.

The appeals court paused the gag order earlier this month, but on Thursday said it should be restored while the official appeal is pending.

During a break in the trial Thursday morning, Engoron announced the appeals court ruling reinstating the gag order.

“I intend to enforce the gag orders rigorously and vigorously. I want to make sure that counsel informs their clients of the fact that the stay was vacated,” the judge said.

“It is a tragic day for the rule of law, but we’re aware,” Trump’s attorney Chris Kise said.

“It is what it is,” Engoron responded.

The $250 million lawsuit was brought by the New York attorney general’s office and alleges that Trump and his co-defendants committed repeated fraud in inflating assets on financial statements to get better terms on commercial real estate loans and insurance policies. Engoron already ruled the former president is liable for fraud and he’s considering how much the Trumps will have to pay in damages.

Trump had urged the appeals court on Monday to continue to block the gag order, saying that threats to the judge and his law clerk do not “justify” limiting the former president’s constitutional right to defend himself.

Trump has posted repeatedly on Truth Social about Engoron’s clerk, originally last month claiming she was a “girlfriend” to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, and showing a picture of the two of them together.

“How disgraceful!” Trump wrote. “This case should be dismissed immediately.”

Trump also went after the clerk in his comments outside the courtroom, though he didn’t mention her by name.

“And this rogue judge, a Trump hater. The only one that hates Trump more is his associate up there,” Trump said. “The person that works with him. She’s screaming into his ear almost every time we ask a question. A disgrace. It’s a disgrace.”

Engoron has fined Trump twice for a total of $15,000 for violating the gag order.

Trial nearing an end with decision in 2024

A decision in the civil fraud trial will not be issued until the end of January at the earliest, Engoron said in court Thursday.

The New York attorney general’s office has said if it puts on a rebuttal case, it can be done in one day. That will likely happen on December 12, the day after the former president is expected to testify as the last defense witness.

There will no closing arguments after the conclusion of witness testimony, rather both sides are required to submit written briefings by January 5, 2024.

Everyone will be back in court to give their oral arguments on January 11.

Engoron said he will aim to file his written decision on the docket by the end of the month. He will not issue his decision in open court.

Waiting on DC gag order ruling

Trump is awaiting another appeals court to rule on a separate gag order in the federal election subversion case against him brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

A three judge panel of the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments earlier this month on the gag order that had been issued against him by Judge Tanya Chutkan.

The limited gag order from Chutkan – which was temporarily frozen by the appeals panel when they agreed to hear the case – restricts Trump’s ability to directly attack Smith, members of his team, court staff or potential trial witnesses. He is allowed to criticize the Justice Department, proclaim his innocence and argue that the case is “politically motivated.”

Source: CNN