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N.Y. appeals court reinstates Trump gag order in civil fraud case

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Nov. 8 in Hialeah, Fla.   (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Shayna Jacobs Washington Post

NEW YORK - A New York appeals court on Thursday reinstated a limited gag order on Donald Trump, preventing him from making public comments about the law clerk in a civil business fraud case brought by the state.

The court in a two-page decision upheld New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s set of orders that prevented Trump and his defense team from mentioning the clerk, who has been the subject of antisemitic and other threats and messages since the case began.

Engoron imposed a gag order on the former president for comments about the clerk that he believed endangered the clerk’s safety. The order was issued after a day Trump posted a photo of the employee on social media that the judge said led to threats.

The judge has fined Trump twice for a total of $15,000 for violating the gag order.

Trump’s side has repeatedly accused the clerk of bias and having an inappropriate influence on Engoron’s decision-making.

A temporary pause on the gag order issued Nov. 16 gave Trump two-week window in which to discuss the clerk publicly. That day, he resumed his complaints and accusations against her on social media.

The civil fraud case stems from a $250 million lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) against Trump, his company and several current and former executives including Trump’s adult sons. The Trumps and their lawyers have denied any wrongdoing.

On Thursday, Engoron said he would decide the case in January. The trial began Oct. 2 and may continue into mid-December.

Trump lawyer Christopher Kise on Thursday said the gag order ruling amounted to a “tragic day for the rule of law.”

He and the rest of Trump’s legal team have said it is their duty to call out courtroom unfairness when they see it and that the gag order prohibits Trump’s right to free speech and seeks to influence next year’s presidential election.

Trump, who is the leading candidate for the Republican ticket for president in 2024, has repeatedly complained on the campaign trail about the civil case and four pending criminal indictments. He has leveraged those complaints to take in significant campaign donations from supporters.