Image Source: ABC News
Former President Donald Trump is pushing back against the limited gag order placed on him in his New York civil fraud case, attacking the judge and prosecutors despite being barred from commenting on the judge’s staff.
In a post on his Truth Social platform Thursday morning, Trump referred to his trial as a “rigged witch hunt” and accused New York State Judge Arthur Engoron of doing “whatever [NY Attorney General] Letitia [James] demands.” Engoron enacted the gag order earlier this month after Trump posted unsubstantiated claims about the romantic involvement of one of the judge’s staffers with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
While the gag order only prevents Trump from commenting publicly about Engoron’s staff, the former president has continued to speak out against the judge himself as well as James, who brought the $250 million civil lawsuit accusing Trump of misrepresenting the value of assets on financial statements.
“This trial is a giant Democrat Scam, with a Trump/Developer hating Judge who does whatever Letitia demands,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “He is totally afraid her, but fortunately has been overturned on many occasions by the Court of Appeals, including in our case, WHICH DECISION HE REFUSES TO EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE -Showing great disrespect to the Appellate Court.”
Trump went on to claim businesses are avoiding New York due to the lawsuit. “Businesses are watching this Witch Hunt Trial, and moving out of New York — And definitely not moving in!” he wrote.
The civil fraud trial, which kicked off in October 2022, has seen frequent clashes between the Trump team and Engoron. The judge has had to warn Trump’s lawyers about courtroom conduct multiple times, at one point labelling their efforts “embarrassing.”
Trump’s tendency to speak his mind has led to gag orders in other cases as well. This week, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan placed limited restrictions on what Trump can publicly state about the Justice Department’s special counsel probe into his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Chutkan barred Trump from making statements that target special counsel Jack Smith or his team. The order came after Smith argued Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric could intimidate witnesses and otherwise interfere with the probe.
Trump Blasts New York Judge and Attorney General Despite Gag Order Limitations
The latest gag order in Trump’s New York civil case stems from a Truth Social post the former president made in October 2022. Trump falsely claimed that Allison Greenfield, part of Engoron’s staff, was in a romantic relationship with Chuck Schumer and should have recused herself.
Engoron demanded Trump take down the “inappropriate and unacceptable” post targeting his staffer and subsequently forbid any further comments about his staff.
While Trump deleted the post, he continues to speak out against Engoron himself. In addition to accusing the judge of doing whatever James demands, Trump has repeatedly called the trial a partisan witch hunt.
Trump’s legal team plans to appeal the election probe gag order from Judge Chutkan, arguing it infringes on the former president’s free speech. It remains to be seen if attempts will be made to further restrict what Trump can say in his civil fraud case as well.
New York AG James Bring Trump Fraud Lawsuit in 2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed the civil lawsuit against Trump, three of his adult children and the Trump Organization in September 2022.
The lawsuit alleges Trump inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to obtain favorable interest rates and insurance coverage. It seeks $250 million in alleged damages.
Trump and his legal team have maintained his financial statements were truthful and the figures provided were based on prevailing market conditions. The former president has accused James, a Democrat, of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
If the lawsuit succeeds, James could seek to permanently bar Trump and his children from serving as executives of any New York-based companies. Trump could also be prohibited from acquiring commercial real estate in the state for five years.
The trial is expected to last several more weeks, with Trump himself likely to testify. James recently said her office has accrued “significant additional evidence” since filing the lawsuit.
Trump Faces Multiple Legal Battles Since Leaving Office
In addition to the civil fraud trial and special counsel probe, Trump faces other investigations and lawsuits as well.
A district attorney in Georgia is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. In Washington DC, Trump has been subpoenaed by a House committee examining the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Meanwhile, the January 6th committee has made criminal referrals to the Justice Department based on possible obstruction, conspiracy and false statements. The DOJ has appointed a special counsel to determine if any prosecutions should take place.
Trump has denounced all of the investigations and lawsuits as nothing more than political ploys to damage him. Despite the mounting legal issues, the former president launched his 2024 presidential campaign shortly after the midterm elections.
For continued coverage of Trump’s many legal entanglements and his road to a possible 2024 White House bid, visit American Money’s politics section. Check back often for the latest updates on this developing situation.