Trump rages about judge and law clerk in New York fraud trial while his gag order is paused

Donald Trump renewed his attacks on the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial in New York and the judge’s law clerk, baselessly accusing them both of political bias in a Thanksgiving Day social media post.

Trump had repeatedly raged against Judge Arthur Engoron and his clerk, leading the judge to impose a gag order last month on the second day of the $250 million New York civil fraud trial against the former president. The gag order was later expanded, placing similar restrictions on members of Trump’s legal team.

A New York appeals court last week temporarily blocked the gag order, issuing a stay after Trump’s attorneys had appealed the order as “unconstitutional.” The pause will be in effect until at least Nov. 27, when a panel of appeals court judges will consider the issue.

With the gag order on hold, Trump took to his Truth Social platform on Thursday morning and accused Engoron of criminally defrauding him and the state of New York. He also alleged that the judge’s law clerk is “Politically Biased & Corrupt,” writing that the clerk sits “by his side on the ‘Bench’ & tell him what to do.”

Trump, in the same post, called President Joe Biden “crooked” and addressed “all of the other Radical Left Lunatics, Communists, Fascists, Marxists, Democrats, & RINOS, who are seriously looking to DESTROY OUR COUNTRY.”

The New York Unified Court System did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The gag order had prohibited Trump from attacking the judge’s staff but did not prohibit the former president from criticizing Engoron himself.

The judge issued the gag order after Trump had made critical comments about his law clerk on social media and to reporters covering the trial in Manhattan

At the time he issued the order, Engoron said he had the right to confer with his clerk and that Trump and his lawyers were “falsely accusing her of bias against them and of improperly influencing the ongoing bench trial.”

Arguing in favor of reimposing the gag order, court officials on Wednesday detailed what they described as a “deluge” of threats targeting the clerk after the former president complained about her online. She has been subjected to, on a daily basis, harassing and disparaging comments, Charles Hollon, who works in the Public Safety Department’s Judicial Threats Assessment Unit, wrote in a legal filing.

Since the appeals court paused the gag orders, about half of the harassing and disparaging messages to the law clerk have been antisemitic, Hollon said, adding that he believes that the threats against the judge and the clerk are “serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative.”

The judge has fined Trump twice for a total of $15,000 after finding that the former president had violated the order while it was still in place. Trump’s lawyers contended on appeal that the fines were excessive and the judge didn’t follow proper procedure when he imposed them.

Appellate Division Justice David Friedman, who paused Engoron ’ s gag order, said he was granting the interim stay due to the “constitutional and statutory rights at issue.” He made the ruling after Trump’s lawyers argued in their appeal that the gag orders were “not narrowly tailored.”

Friedman was the same judge who issued a temporary stay of the trial in September, citing worries put forth by Trump’s lawyers over outstanding legal issues. That stay was lifted before the trial started.

Hours after the gag order was temporarily lifted, Trump took to Truth Social and welcomed the ruling, calling the law clerk “politically biased,” but he did not name her then.

Christina Zhao

Christina Zhao is a politics editor for NBC News, based in New York.

Dareh Gregorian

and

Adam Reiss

contributed

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