A New York judge has issued a limited gag order in the civil business fraud trial of former President Donald Trump after the ex-president took to social media to disparage a court staffer. The order, which applies to all parties in the case, came after Trump shared a photo of the judge’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and called her involvement in the trial “disgraceful.”
Trump has repeatedly portrayed the lawsuit as a political attack by New York’s Democratic attorney general, Letitia James, as he continues to assert his innocence in the case. However, the trial continued on Tuesday with testimony from an accountant who worked for Trump’s company and assisted in the preparation of financial statements.
The state’s case claims that Trump and others in his company perpetually lied about his wealth on financial statements given to banks, insurers, and others. While Trump denies any wrongdoing, testimony from accountant Donald Bender has shed light on the extent to which the Trump Organization failed to provide all relevant financial documents, despite attesting to the contrary.
The issue at hand is the statute of limitations, which rules out claims related to activities before a date in 2014. Trump’s legal team argues that this time limit eliminates most of the case. However, Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that all the claims are allowable under the statute of limitations, and he confirmed on Tuesday that the trial is not an opportunity to relitigate what he has already decided.
NEW: Judge issues “gag order” on Trump after for posting “disparaging, untrue” post about his clerk.
“Consider this statement a gag order forbidding all parties from posting … about any member of my staff. Failure to abide by this order will result in serious sanctions”
— Frank G. Runyeon (@frankrunyeon) October 3, 2023
During the trial, Trump’s defense reiterated key points, including that the financial statements bore disclaimers stating that they were not audited and that others “might reach different conclusions” about his financial position if they had more information. Trump called the case a “scam” and argued that it cannot be considered fraud when institutions were told to do their own work.
Despite Trump’s reluctance, he plans to testify in the trial at a later date. In the meantime, the judge has set a stern precedent, warning that personal attacks on court staff are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This was in response to Trump’s previous comments about Greenfield’s involvement in the trial.
While the gag order aims to limit distractions in the courtroom, Trump has used the waiting cameras in a courthouse hallway to continue his political messaging. He plans to attend the trial for a third day on Wednesday, despite grumbling that he would rather be on the campaign trail.
The trial is expected to last until December, with James seeking $250 million and a ban on Trump doing business in New York. The judge has ruled that some of Trump’s companies should be dissolved as punishment. The case will continue to expose the inner workings of the Trump Organization, providing insight into the former president’s business practices and financial dealings.