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New York Judge Enforces Limited Gag Order Following Trump’s Disparaging Post about Court Clerk

by Sophia Chen
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gag order

In a swift response to former President Donald Trump’s derogatory social media post concerning a court clerk involved in his civil business fraud trial, New York Judge Arthur Engoron has issued a limited gag order. This order applies to all parties involved in the case and specifically addresses verbal attacks against court staff.

The incident unfolded during a day of testimonies, as Judge Engoron acted promptly to maintain decorum in the courtroom. Trump had shared a critical social media post featuring Allison Greenfield, the principal law clerk for Judge Engoron, alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. In his post, Trump, who is currently the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, expressed his disapproval of Greenfield collaborating with the judge in the courtroom, deeming it “disgraceful.”

Amidst this episode, Letitia James, New York’s Democratic Attorney General, continued to build her case. Her attorney questioned an accountant, aiming to establish that Trump and his company had full control over the preparation of misleading financial statements central to the lawsuit. These statements allegedly contained false information about Trump’s wealth, provided to banks, insurers, and other entities.

Judge Engoron also clarified a comment made the previous day. He had suggested that testimony about Trump’s 2011 financial statement might be subject to a legal time limit, as specified in Attorney General James’ lawsuit. This lawsuit contends that Trump and his company habitually misrepresented their wealth in financial statements. Engoron clarified that the statute of limitations pertains to claims, not evidence, and he intends to allow both sides ample opportunity to connect older evidence to the claims presented in the lawsuit.

Engoron emphasized that the trial is not an opportunity to reevaluate his prior decisions. He had previously ruled that all claims in the lawsuit were admissible within the statute of limitations.

Kevin Wallace, a lawyer representing Attorney General James, further argued that the 2011 document was used to demonstrate that Trump’s financial statements consistently placed him and his company in control of the valuations that appeared on these documents for at least a decade. An accountant, Donald Bender, who had prepared these financial statements for years, testified that Trump’s company supplied the numbers, clearly marked as “PBC” or “prepared by client,” for inclusion in the documents. In some instances, the Trump Organization failed to provide all the necessary records, despite claiming otherwise in letters to the accounting firm.

Regarding the gag order, Judge Engoron addressed the defendant, without naming Trump, for posting a disparaging, false, and personally identifying post about a member of his staff on social media. Engoron asserted that personal attacks on court staff are unacceptable and not tolerated, and he ordered the offending post to be removed.

Despite these developments, Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, expressed confidence in the trial’s progress. He reiterated key points of his defense, highlighting disclaimers on the financial statements indicating they were not audited and suggesting that different conclusions might be reached with more information. Trump continued to assert that the case was a political maneuver by Letitia James to hinder his ongoing political campaign.

This non-jury trial revolves around six remaining claims in the lawsuit and the potential penalties Trump may face. Attorney General James seeks $250 million in damages and a ban on Trump conducting business in New York. The judge has already ruled that some of Trump’s companies should be dissolved as part of the penalty.

Trump’s legal team maintains that the financial statements accurately represented the value of luxury properties, which were further enhanced by their association with Trump. The trial is expected to extend into December.

Follow updates on this trial by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips and x.com/mikesisak.


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump Trial Gag Order

What led to the imposition of a gag order in Donald Trump’s trial?

A New York judge, Arthur Engoron, imposed a limited gag order after Donald Trump shared a critical social media post about a court clerk, Allison Greenfield, who was involved in his civil business fraud trial. The order applies to all parties and addresses verbal attacks on court staff.

What was the focus of the trial involving Donald Trump?

The trial centered on allegations that Donald Trump and his company provided misleading and false financial statements about his wealth to banks, insurers, and others. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, sought $250 million in damages and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

What clarification did Judge Engoron provide regarding the statute of limitations?

Judge Engoron clarified that the statute of limitations in the case pertains to claims, not evidence. He emphasized that the trial is not an opportunity to reevaluate his prior decisions and that he intends to allow both sides to connect older evidence to the claims in the lawsuit.

Why did the judge impose a gag order, and what was its purpose?

The judge imposed the gag order because a defendant in the case posted a disparaging, false, and personally identifying post about a member of his staff on social media. The purpose of the gag order was to maintain decorum in the courtroom and prevent personal attacks on court staff.

What were the key arguments presented by Donald Trump in his defense during the trial?

Donald Trump reiterated key points of his defense, including that the financial statements bore disclaimers indicating they were not audited and that others might reach different conclusions about his financial position with more information. He also asserted that the case was politically motivated.

What is the expected duration of the trial?

The trial is expected to last into December, with ongoing proceedings related to the remaining claims in the lawsuit and the determination of potential penalties.

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