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Trump gag order reinstated in fraud case

President Donald J. Trump in Harlingen, Texas, Jan. 12, 2021, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Shealah Craighead/White House)
November 30, 2023

A New York state appeals court reinstated the gag order against former President Donald Trump on Thursday in the $250 million civil fraud case against Trump and his company.

According to Fox News, the gag order pertaining to the civil fraud court case was first issued by New York Judge Arthur Engoron in October after Trump criticized one of the judge’s law clerks on social media. New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the case against Trump, accusing the former president of business fraud.

The trial, which is currently in its second month of proceedings, is centered around allegations by the Democratic state attorney general that Trump and his company falsely inflated assets to obtain various insurance rates and bank loans. Trump has repeatedly denied the accusations and has accused James of leading a “political witch hunt.”

On Nov. 16, Appeals Court Judge David Friedman issued a stay on Engoron’s gag order, claiming that the gag order could potentially represent a violation of Trump’s First Amendment rights. However, Thursday’s reinstatement of the gag order rejected the former president’s claims that the order violated his Constitutional rights.

According to NBC News, state court officials claimed that the gag order was needed due to a series of threats that had been directed at the clerk Trump had criticized on social media. Following the stay of the order, Trump continued releasing statements about the clerk.

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While Thursday’s ruling by a four-judge appeals court panel did not include the reasoning behind the judges’ reinstatement of the order, the decision is now expected to uphold the gag order until the panel rules on Trump’s full appeal.

Engoron notified both parties Thursday regarding the court’s decision. He stated, “I intend to enforce the gag orders rigorously and vigorously and I want to make sure counsel informs their clients of the fact that the stay was vacated.”

According to NBC News, Chris Kise, Trump’s attorney, informed the judge that they were “aware” of the appeals court’s ruling. Kise explained, “It’s a tragic day for the rule of law, but we are aware.”

Kise also told NBC News that it is “hard to imagine a more unfair process and hard to believe this is happening in America.” Trump’s attorney added that the ruling means that the former president “may not even comment on why he thinks he cannot get a fair trial.”

Trump was previously fined a combined total of $15,000 by Engoron for two violations of the gag order prior to the gag order temporarily being stayed.

NBC News reported that the gag order prevents Trump and his attorneys from mentioning the court’s staff; however, the gag order does not currently prevent Trump from presenting criticisms of Engoron or the attorney general’s office.

“Judge Engoron and Letitia James should be impeached and removed from office for fraudulently reducing my Asset Values, by many times, in order to hurt and demean me. The bank, a major lender, totally disagrees with their numbers, and the fact that they would sue me on a loan that was PERFECT,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on Wednesday. “It is a political Witch Hunt, and a great embarrassment to New York State. REMOVE THEM AND DISMISS THIS RIDICULOUS, NO VICTIM, NO JURY, CASE!”