Donald Trump’s gag order has been removed.
On Nov. 16, New York Appellate Division Associate Justice David Friedman removed a gag order on former President Donald Trump from the bench.
“Considering the constitutional and statutory rights at issue an interim stay is granted,” the justice wrote.
The gag order was first imposed by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over a civil bench trial involving The Trump Organization’s alleged fraud. The defense submitted a move to declare a mistrial this week.
Justice Friedman questioned Justice Engoron’s authority to monitor President Trump’s remarks outside the courtroom, pointing out that gag orders are frequently given in criminal cases when the defendant may influence the jury.
President Trump has already been punished and paid $15,000 for violating the gag order, which forbids him from speaking about Justice Engoron’s staff. On Oct. 3, the day after the trial began, he posted on Truth Social about Allison Greenfield, Justice Engoron’s primary legal clerk, including a screenshot of a photo of her smiling with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a political event and a message that linked to her Instagram account.
After Justice Engoron was made aware of the post, it was removed 10 minutes later, and he imposed a gag order verbally in court the same day.
President Trump was later fined $5,000 after Justice Engoron learned that one of the former president’s campaign websites kept a page archiving the original Truth Social post, and another $10,000 when he mentioned a “partisan” person sitting “alongside” the judge in remarks to the press without using a name.
Defense counsel argued with Justice Engoron about the appearance of impropriety and, subsequently, probable prejudice in the case as a result of this. He replied by broadening the gag order to prevent defense counsel from making remarks about his staff or communications between himself and his staff.
Ms. Greenfield sits next to Justice Engoron, and he consults with her regularly during the trial. Defense counsel had observed her “rolling her eyes” when interrogating witnesses and handing notes to the court, which enraged the justice, and the dispute escalated to screaming between the judge and attorneys.
On November 16, defense counsel Alina Habba was asked if she would advise President Trump not to make comments about Ms. Greenfield.
“I don’t see a reason for restrictions because Ms. James is continuing to disparage my client,” Ms. Habba said.
“Both sides need to be able to speak, and the fact that I, frankly, couldn’t and my client couldn’t speak for the past however many days is so unconstitutional.”
The case was launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who won a summary judgment on Sept. 26 stating that the former president did exaggerate his net worth and was thus guilty for fraud. The continuing trial, which is likely to go until mid-December, requires state lawyers to establish intent to deceive.
The defense attorneys detailed the gag order and the behavior that it bans counsel from condemning at length in their mistrial motion, alleging that it contributes to the impression of impropriety.
They said that the court “impermissibly exceeded its discretion” by granting Ms. Greenfield “unprecedented status and input” in the trial, accusing the judge of “co-judging” the case with his clerk.
“Only a judge, not an unelected staff member, may exercise judicial authority under the New York Constitution, and the People of New York declined to elect the Principal Law Clerk when she ran for office,” the motion reads.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chairwoman of the House GOP, hailed “victory” on Thursday after an appeals court removed a gag order put on former President Donald Trump in the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York.
“VICTORY,” proclaimed Ms. Stefanik, who wrote to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Nov. 10 to voice “serious concerns” about New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, the judge handling the trial.
“This judge’s bizarre behavior has no place in our judicial system,” she said in her letter dated Nov. 10., noting “inappropriate bias” and “judicial intemperance.”
“I am pleased to see that after my ethics complaint … an appellate court has lifted the unconstitutional gag order against President Trump,” Ms. Stefanik said in a statement.
“We must fight to protect all defendants’ First Amendment and due-process rights,” she also said.
“This is so much bigger than President Trump. If Democrats can do this to a billionaire, former president, and leading presidential candidate, just imagine what they can do to the rest of us,” she added.