New York appeals court upholds Trump gag order in fraud case

November 30, 2023

A New York appeals court on Thursday reinstated a gag order issued in former President Trump’s civil fraud trial in Manhattan.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump, his companies and its officers including Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, over allegations of more than 200 instances of bank, tax and insurance fraud over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2021.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron had issued the gag order after Trump targeted Engoron’s principal law clerk by sharing a social media post that included her full name and a photo of her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as they both smiled. Trump’s posting falsely called the clerk “Schumer’s girlfriend” and accused her of “running this case against me.”

Trump had filed to appeal the gag order, and an injunction on the order was issued while the appeals process played out.

The former President’s attorneys told an appeals court on Monday that threats against the judge and his law clerk did not “justify” limiting Trump’s Constitutional right to defend himself.

According to a court filing last week, Engoron’s clerk has been the target of a “deluge” of threats since Trump complained about her on social media, to the point where court officials have been prompted to work with “the FBI and Homeland Security to devise the appropriate security measures” for Engoron and his chamber staff, including the clerk. 

Trump attorney Christopher Kise on Thursday called the reissue of the gag order “a tragic day for the rule of law”—to which Engoron replied, “It is what it is.”

There is no jury in Trump’s civil trial. This past September, Engoron issued a summary judgment in the suit, agreeing with James’ allegations that Trump and his company and officers did in fact commit business fraud during the decade in question.

The summary judgment resolved the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but the other claims remain, including the amount of damages that will be levied. The New York Attorney General is suing Trump and the other defendants for $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in his home state.

Trump is scheduled to testify for a second time in the case on Monday, December 11. According to Kise, he will be the final witness for the defense.

On Thursday, Judge Engoron set January 11 for closing arguments in the trial.

PHOTO: Trump speaks publicly about civil fraud trial, October 2

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