In the ongoing civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump and others, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron established a new gag order on Friday, restricting attorneys from speaking publicly about his internal staff communications.
The edict came in the wake of exchanges with Trump’s attorney, Christopher Kise, who expressed concerns over Engoron’s interactions with his law clerk, Allison Greenfield, suggesting potential political prejudice. Kise’s contention centered on the volume of notes exchanged between Greenfield and Engoron during the proceedings.
In response, Engoron found Kise’s accusations baseless both in court and within the written directive. He firmly outlined that the gag order forbids any public discussion related to confidential exchanges between the judge and his staff.
Judge Engoron is presiding over the lawsuit initiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The suit accuses Trump, his elder sons, and associated executives of engaging in a longstanding fraudulent scheme aimed at inflating asset values and Trump’s net worth. Prior rulings by Engoron have already held the Trumps and their business culpable for corporate fraud.
As the trial progresses into its sixth week, Trump is scheduled to testify, following the appearances of his sons. The defendants collectively maintain their innocence.
An earlier gag order from Engoron, imposed on Oct. 3, aimed to restrict commentary on his staff, triggered by a disparaging post from Trump’s Truth Social account. Subsequent violations by Trump have led to financial penalties, the most recent being a $10,000 fine.
Kise, referencing a Breitbart News article on Greenfield’s political contributions, articulated the defense’s concern over potential bias influencing the trial. Despite Engoron’s unawareness of such reports, he chastised Kise for implying political motives, stressing his focus on impartially conducting the trial.
Engoron’s follow-up written order underscored the baselessness of the defense’s claims of bias and improper influence, noting the propriety of judicial consultation with clerks. He defended his clerks as dutiful public servants and maintained the confidentiality of his consultations with his court staff.
Moreover, Engoron disclosed that his office had received an influx of hostile communications since the trial’s onset. Emphasizing the safety of his staff over the defendants’ First Amendment rights to comment, he indicated that protection from threats and potential harm is paramount.
He warned that any breach of the gag order would invite grave consequences, emphasizing the directive’s seriousness.