Judge Issues Gag Order After Trump Attacks Clerk In New York Trial
Judge issues gag order after Trump attacks clerk in New York trial, which prohibits anyone involved in the case from sharing information about Trump's staff on social media. The decision came in response to an inflammatory post on Trump's social media account that identified the judge's clerk.
During the second day of the trial, after an extended lunch break, Judge Arthur Engoron addressed a developing conflict.
This morning one of the defendants posted on (a) social media account a disparaging untrue and personally identifying post about a member of my staff. Although I have since ordered the post deleted and apparently it was, it was also emailed out to millions of other recipients. Personal attacks of any member of my court staff are unacceptable and inappropriate, and I will not tolerate them.- Judge Arthur Engoron
The controversial post in question was shared by Donald Trump on his social media platform, Truth Social, earlier in the day. The post featured a photograph of the clerk alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and included a link to what seemed to be her private Instagram profile.
Inaccurately, Trump referred to the clerk, Allison Greenfield, as Schumer's "girlfriend" and called for the dismissal of the case. Following the post, an attorney representing Trump declined to respond to inquiries about it.
COPYRIGHT_BP: Published on https://bingepost.com/judge-issues-gag-order-after-trump-attacks-clerk-in-new-york-trial/ by Hilda Workman on 2023-10-05T05:53:59.697Z
The contentious post vanished following a meeting between Donald Trump, his legal team, and the presiding judge during a recess in the trial proceedings on Tuesday. Donald Trump was present in the courtroom for the second day of his trial, facing civil charges related to allegations of falsifying business and personal records for financial gain.
At approximately 1 p.m., the courtroom was cleared for its customary lunch break. Shortly thereafter, once reporters and other members of the public had exited, attorneys from both sides reconvened in the courtroom. Reporters were temporarily denied reentry for approximately 15 minutes. Subsequently, shortly after Donald Trump and his legal team departed, the post concerning Allison Greenfield disappeared from his website.
Allison Greenfield has been a constant presence alongside Judge Engoron throughout the case, attending nearly every hearing for several years. On numerous occasions, she has been granted the opportunity to interrogate attorneys on his behalf. In the past, she engaged in passionate exchanges with members of Trump's legal team, delving into the nuances of New York law. However, as of the current trial, she has not yet participated in questioning the lawyers.
The details of what transpired during the closed-door meeting with the judge on Tuesday remained undisclosed. However, Donald Trump's social media posts, which have targeted prosecutors, judges, and individuals involved in his separate criminal cases, have been the subject of legal battles concerning his public statements.
In August, Special Counsel Jack Smith, responsible for prosecuting Trump in two federal cases, petitioned U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to establish a protective order restricting the former president's public comments regarding a case related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Citing numerous posts on Truth Social, prosecutors accused Trump of making "inflammatory public statements" aimed at influencing potential jurors and intimidating witnesses.
Smith requested a "narrowly tailored" order that would prevent Trump from making statements that are "regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses," and "about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating. One of the cited posts included Trump emphatically stating, "If you go after me, I'm coming after you!"
In response, Trump's legal team characterized the request as "nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent."
Chutkan has not yet made a decision regarding the suggested order. However, during a hearing on August 11th, she cautioned Trump's legal team about the boundaries of their client's public statements and reiterated the terms of his release while awaiting trial.
"Your client's defense is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet," she emphasized. She further stated that any additional "inflammatory" remarks about the case would intensify her determination to expedite the trial process to safeguard the potential pool of jurors.
"I will take whatever measures are necessary to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings," Chutkan said.
In the New York case, Judge Engoron issued a ruling last week against Trump and the other co-defendants regarding one of the civil charges brought by the state's Attorney General, Letitia James. The ruling, which occurred before the trial officially commenced, found them liable for business fraud. The ongoing trial now focuses on the remaining charges in the lawsuit, pertaining to the alleged falsification of business records, the issuance of false financial statements, and conspiracy.
The defendants in this civil trial, held in New York Superior Court, include Trump, the Trump Organization, several executives, and two of his children - Donald Jr. and Eric. It's important to note that if found liable, they will not face imprisonment since the charges are of a civil nature, not criminal.
Trump made his first appearance in court on Monday, drawing a large crowd of observers. Outside the courtroom, he strongly criticized both Attorney General James and Judge Engoron, characterizing the case as a "witch hunt" and a "disgrace."
The trial commenced with opening statements from both sides and the introduction of the state's initial witness. Kevin Wallace, the chief attorney representing Attorney General James' office, presented a comprehensive 65-slide presentation.
This presentation outlined the remaining allegations in the case, primarily focusing on the creation of allegedly falsified business records and personal financial statements spanning several years. The state contends that Trump and his company deceitfully crafted these documents with the intent to exaggerate the value of the Trump Organization's assets and the former president's personal wealth, all in an effort to secure more favorable loan terms.
The defendants knew that the statements were false, they then used them to pursue and obtain financial benefits.- Kevin Wallace
The defense attorneys responded with their own opening statements, led by Trump's lawyer, Christopher Kise, who argued that the valuations were both appropriate and accurate. Kise highlighted that Trump's personal financial statements employed a distinct accounting standard from the company's statements. He also stated that the defense would present witnesses who could vouch for the validity of these statements.
As part of their case, Wallace and his team called their first witness, accountant Donald Bender from the accounting firm Mazars. This firm had been overseeing Trump and the company's financial records for over three decades. Bender explained the process he followed in compiling financial statements, relying on information provided by the Trump Organization.
He also revealed that, at the company's direction, he deviated from generally accepted accounting principles (known as GAAP) for certain business entities associated with the Trump Organization. Notably, Bender testified that had he been aware that the information provided by the company was untrue, he would not have endorsed these financial statements.
On Tuesday, Donald Bender returned to the witness stand, continuing his detailed year-by-year explanation of the financial records under scrutiny in the case. Trump's attorney, Christopher Kise, raised objections to numerous documents, contending that the relevant statute of limitations should exclude evidence from before either 2014 or 2016, depending on the specific document.
Judge Engoron overruled these objections, having ruled on Monday that material predating 2014 is admissible. Attorney Kevin Wallace informed the judge that the state intends to connect the earlier documents to loans that reached maturity within the statute of limitations.
Bender emphasized that Mazars would not have issued a Statement of Financial Condition (SOFC), essentially a snapshot of Trump's personal finances, if the firm had believed the information to be untrue. In 2022, Mazars declined to issue an SOFC for the previous year, terminated its client relationship with Trump, and revoked a decade's worth of SOFCs.
Starting in 2013, Bender disclosed that he had requested property appraisals from the Trump Organization when preparing SOFCs. However, he revealed that approximately three years ago, he discovered there were appraisals he had not received. He learned of this omission during a Zoom interview with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
Subsequently, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office charged two Trump Organization companies and former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg with tax fraud. Weisselberg pleaded guilty, and in December 2022, the companies were found guilty on 17 related counts. Four months later, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on 34 felony counts related to the falsification of business records. Trump entered a not-guilty plea in that case.