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Trump ordered not to comment on judge’s staff in fraud case

Former President Donald Trump with his attorneys at his civil fraud trial at the New York state Supreme Court building in Manhattan, N.Y., on Oct. 2.  (JEFFERSON SIEGEL/New York Times)
By Jonah E. Bromwich New York Times

NEW YORK — The New York judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial ordered the former president Tuesday not to attack or even comment on court staff after Trump posted a message to social media targeting the judge’s law clerk.

Trump attacked the clerk, Allison Greenfield, shortly before noon on his Truth Social site. His post was a picture of Greenfield with Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader. Trump mocked Greenfield as “Schumer’s girlfriend” and said that the case against him should be dismissed.

The post was taken down during a lunch break, shortly after a closed-door meeting in the room where Trump is being tried.

Justice Arthur Engoron explained what had happened after the break, though he did not name Greenfield or Trump, referring to him only as a defendant. “Personal attacks on my members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I will not tolerate them under any circumstances,” he said.

Engoron said that his statement should be considered a gag order forbidding any posts, emails or public remarks about members of his staff. He added that serious sanctions would follow were he to be disobeyed but did not elaborate.

The judge, who is known for keeping a lighthearted atmosphere in his courtroom, spoke gravely. He noted that while Trump had taken down the Truth Social post, the former president’s campaign had sent out a copy of the post in a disparaging email to millions of people.

Trump has spent much of the first two days of the trial attacking Engoron, Greenfield and Letitia James, the New York attorney general. James filed the lawsuit that led to the trial that began Monday. She accused Trump of “staggering fraud” in the way he inflated the values of his assets, as a way to gain favorable treatment from banks and insurance companies. James and Engoron are both Democrats.

In a pretrial ruling, Engoron found that the former president was liable for fraud and dissolved the companies he uses to run his New York properties.

What remains to be determined at trial is whether the former president and his fellow defendants are liable for other illegal acts and whether there will be any further punishment. James has asked Engoron to fine the defendants $250 million.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.