New York judge expands gag order to Trump’s attorneys in fraud case

The New York judge overseeing former President Trump’s financial fraud trial on Friday extended a gag order issued in the case to Trump’s attorneys, barring them from making comments about his communications with his staff and saying the comments have spurred threats.

Judge Arthur Engoron has already prohibited Trump from making public comments about his court staff after the former president attacked one of his clerks on social media after posting a picture of her with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and falsely calling her Schumer’s “girlfriend.”

Trump has since twice violated the order, racking up $15,000 in fines between the two incidents. But even amid the steep penalties for their client, Trump’s attorneys this week repeatedly questioned Engoron’s communication with court staff during the trial.

“As I have stated on the record, seemingly to no avail, my law clerks are public servants who are performing their job in the manner in which I request. This includes providing legal authority and opinions, as well as responding to questions I pose to them. Plainly, defenders are not entitled to the confidential communications among me and my court staff,” he wrote in the order.

The order bars Trump’s attorneys from commenting on his staff both in and out of court and warns failure to follow it will “result in serious sanctions.”

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Engoron’s order comes after Trump attorney Christopher Kise complained there was “co-judging” happening in the case and complained about the frequent exchange of notes between the judge and court staff.

“Yesterday we counted 30, 40 times,” Kise said.

Engoron said that since the start of the trial, he’s been “inundated with hundreds of threatening and harassing phone calls” and letters.

“The First Amendment right of defendants and their attorneys to comment on my staff is far and away outweighed by the need to protect them from threats and physical harm,” Engoron wrote in the order.

“I will continue to consult with my staff, as is my unfettered right, throughout the remainder of this trial,” he added.

Engoron is presiding over a case brought by the New York Attorney General’s Office alleging the Trump Organization falsely inflated and deflated the value of its assets to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage.

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