In a dramatic turn of events, Justice Arthur Engoron, the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, issued a gag order on Tuesday, effectively silencing Trump’s public comments about court staff.
The move came in response to a recent social media attack by the former president on Allison Greenfield, the judge’s principal law clerk.
“This morning one of the defendants posted to his social media account a disparaging, untrue and personally identifying post about a member of my staff,” said Justice Engoron, addressing Trump as he sat in the courtroom, about 15 feet from the clerk.
“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I will not tolerate them in any circumstances,” Engoron continued.
Engoron disclosed that he had previously cautioned Trump “off the record” against making such comments, but his warnings were disregarded. Following Trump’s online assault, the judge ordered him to promptly delete the offensive post, which subsequently vanished from Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social.
Engoron’s stern response culminated in the issuance of a gag order, which applies to all parties involved in the trial. This sweeping order explicitly forbids any public posting, emailing, or discussion concerning court staff members. Engoron emphasized that non-compliance with this directive would result in serious consequences.
Trump’s contentious social media post, which triggered the gag order, alleged that Allison Greenfield was “running this case against me.” The post also included a link to Greenfield’s campaign Instagram account for a judgeship in Manhattan civil court. Trump’s derogatory reference to Greenfield as “[Chuck]Schumer’s girlfriend” was another element of the inflammatory post.
Throughout the trial’s proceedings, Greenfield had been strategically seated in the courtroom, facing Trump directly. Engoron’s decision to issue the gag order coincides with a parallel development in a federal case in Washington, D.C., where prosecutors are seeking a more stringent gag order on Trump.
In the D.C. case, Trump stands accused of a pattern of harassment and intimidation directed at witnesses, attempts to taint the jury pool, and incitement of threats against prosecutors and the court. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan has scheduled a hearing on October 16 to assess this matter.
Trump’s history of verbally attacking judges, prosecutors, and court personnel has previously resulted in consequences in other cases, including a protective order issued by Justice Juan Merchan in Trump’s New York state indictment case. This protective order aims to safeguard the identifying information of personnel within the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to ensure their safety.
In requesting the protective order, prosecutors argued in a court filing that Trump “has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk.”