May 19, 2024

On Thursday, New York Appellate Judge David Friedman granted a stay, suspending a gag order placed on former President Trump by Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the former President’s New York civil trial for fraud. 

The gag order was placed on President Trump after remarks he had made on social media about Engoron’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield.

Judge David Friedman, of the state’s intermediate appeals court, issued what’s known a stay — suspending the gag order and allowing Trump to freely comment about court staff while a longer appeals process plays out. Friedman’s ruling also applies to Trump’s lawyers and others involved in the case.

The trial judge, Arthur Engoron, imposed the gag order on Trump after the former president made a disparaging social media post about Engoron’s court clerk on trial’s second day, Oct. 2. Engoron later fined Trump $15,000 for violations and expanded the order to include his lawyers after they questioned the clerk’s prominent role in the courtroom. 

Friedman questioned Engoron’s authority to police Trump’s speech outside the courtroom — such as his frequent gripes about the case on social media and in comments to TV cameras in the courthouse hallway. He acknowledged that judges often issue gag orders, but said they’re mostly used in criminal cases where there’s a fear that comments about the case could influence the jury.

The ruling came as a response to a legal challenge of the gag order by the Trump legal team.

Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Engoron late Wednesday challenging the gag order as an abuse of power. Friedman scheduled an emergency hearing Thursday afternoon around a conference table in a state appellate courthouse a couple of miles from where the trial is unfolding.

Trump attorney Alina Habba indicated after Friedman ruled that she has no plans to advise the former president to stay quiet about the clerk.

Trump’s legal team has also filed a mistrial motion, seeking to have the entire case thrown out. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has filed an official judicial complaint against Judge Engoron as well. 

Earlier this month, the Trump team was successful in getting yet another gag order stayed, at least temporarily, in the criminal election interference case pending in federal court in Washington, D.C.

This entire case has been contentious and fractious from the get-go. Judge Engoron has also tried to strip the former President of control of his own business organizations, including fining members of his legal team $7,500 each for “…engaging in repetitive, frivolous motion practice after this court, affirmed by the appellate division, expressly warned them against doing so.” This attempt was struck down as well.

Former President Trump’s primary attorney, Alina Habba, is already taking advantage of her own First Amendment rights, as evidenced in a press conference on Nov. 6th in which she blasted Judge Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Meanwhile, it appears no charges will be filed resulting from President Biden’s retention of classified documents from his time as senator and vice president; this is the investigation, it’s important to note, during which boxes of classified materials were found in, among other places, Biden’s Delaware garage.

Stay tuned. This case is almost certainly going to get more interesting before it concludes. We will, of course, continue to monitor this trial and bring you the latest news as it breaks.