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Former President Trump is seeking to appeal a gag order barring him and his counsel from discussing his New York fraud trial judge’s staff to the state’s highest court.
A lower appeals court reinstated Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron’s limited gag order last week. Trump’s counsel argued in their request to eliminate the gag order that the trial judge’s enforcement of it “casts serious doubt” on his ability to serve as an “impartial finder of fact” overseeing the former president’s case.
Trump’s legal team on Monday asked permission from the intermediate appeals court to bring their argument to the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.
“Without expedited review, Petitioners will continue to suffer irreparable injury daily, as they are silenced on matters implicating the appearance of bias and impropriety on the bench during a trial of immense stakes,” wrote Clifford Robert, an attorney for Trump’s adult sons and other entities that are parties in the case, in the request.
Trump’s attacks have primarily targeted Engoron’s principal law clerk. The former president’s Truth Social account in October falsely derided her as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) “girlfriend” and included personally identifying information about her. A Schumer spokesperson called the post “ridiculous, absurd, and false” in a statement to The Hill at the time.
That post sparked Engoron’s limited gag order, and since then, Trump has racked up $15,000 in fines for various violations of it. The order was also expanded to include remarks by Trump’s counsel about the clerk before it was appealed.
The clerk sometimes plays an active role in the trial, passing notes to and whispering with the judge. Trump and his lawyers claim the clerk acts as a “co-judge” in the case, while Engoron has said he can run his court how he pleases.
Trump’s legal team requested a mistrial last month, claiming the judge and his clerk “tainted” the trial with bias against Trump. Engoron denied the motion, calling it “utterly without merit.”
Engoron has repeatedly told Trump and his counsel that attacks on his staff are “not appropriate” and won’t be tolerated “under any circumstance.”
The gag order does not bar attacks against Engoron or New York Attorney General Letitia James, both of whom are also frequent targets of the former president’s rage. The former president railed against the “Trump-hating” judge when he testified in the trial last month.
The trial judge’s wife and son have also faced online attacks from Trump, neither disallowed by the gag order.
Engoron found Trump, the Trump Organization and several executives liable for fraud before the trial even began. James sued Trump and his business last year, claiming they falsely adjusted the value of the business’s assets to receive tax and insurance benefits.
The trial is addressing other claims, including conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. Engoron will ultimately decide the verdict.