New York appeals court reinstates Trump gag order in civil fraud trial News
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New York appeals court reinstates Trump gag order in civil fraud trial

A New York appellate court reinstated a gag order Thursday on former US President Donald Trump in the latest development in the state’s civil fraud trial against the former president and his family’s business. In a two-page order, the Supreme Court of the State of New York denied Trump’s appeal to stay a gag order imposed by Judge Arthur Engoron, the judge overseeing the civil fraud trial.

The appeals court did not provide its reasoning for reinstating the gag order. The trial court overseeing Trump’s ongoing civil fraud trial will now be able to resume enforcing Engoron’s October 3 gag order, which prevents Trump and his lawyers “from making any public statements, in or out of court” that refer to the judge’s staff.

After the gag order’s reinstatement, Trump posted to his social media platform Truth Social, “This is the most unfair Trial in the History of New York, and I’ve had some pretty unfair Trials!” The post came alongside a series of other reposts from the former president, which he claimed captured screenshots of old tweets from Engoron’s wife. However, POLITICO confirmed with Engoron’s wife, Dawn, that the tweets did not originate from her Twitter (now known as X) account. She told POLITICO, “I do not have a Twitter account. I have never posted any anti Trump messages.”

On November 16, the appeals court temporarily stayed Trump’s gag order to consider “the constitutional and statutory rights at issue” in an appeal filed by Trump’s attorneys. Trump challenged the gag order under New York’s Article 78 proceedings—challenging Engoron’s imposition of the gag order—and the US Constitution’s First Amendment—alleging the gag order violated his right to free speech. Trump claimed that Engoron’s gag order impeded his free speech rights and constituted judicial overreach, arguing, “Only a clear and present danger of a serious, substantive evil can justify such an infringement.”

In response, on November 22, counsel for Engoron provided the appeals court with a letter from a judicial security official detailing the hundreds of daily “threatening, harassing, disparaging and antisemitic messages” that Engoron and his staff have received since the start of the civil fraud trial. The security official claimed that, when the gag order was in place, the number of messages received by Engoron and his staff decreased. Engoron therefore urged the court to uphold the gag order.

The civil fraud trial against Trump started about two months ago in a New York courtroom. Trump, his children and his business face allegations that they engaged in financial fraud to obtain more favorable loan rates and tax breaks. The trial is a bench trial, meaning that there is no jury. Instead, the trial’s outcome will be determined by Engoron. The trial is expected to last through the end of December. Since the trial began, Trump has repeatedly lashed out and made comments about Engoron, his staff and the prosecution, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. While a bulk of the comments have been made on Trump’s social media accounts, Trump has also made comments outside of the courtroom and on the stand.

Trump is also facing four criminal trials, totaling 91 state and federal charges against the former president. In the Washington DC federal trial against Trump, which alleges the former president engaged in election interference during the 2020 US presidential election, Trump faces another gag order. On November 20, a DC federal appellate court heard oral arguments in a November 2 appeal from Trump, which challenged the gag order on First Amendment grounds. A few days after oral arguments, government prosecutors in the DC case informed the court of the judicial security official’s letter in Engoron’s November 22 filing to the New York appeals court. Prosecutors argued that the letter demonstrated “evidence of ongoing threats and harassment” from Trump in support of their argument in favor of upholding a gag order against the former president in the DC case. The DC appeals court has yet to rule on the issue of the gag order.