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Former US president Donald Trump appears in court for a civil fraud case at a Manhattan courthouse. Alamy Stock Photo
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Judge issues gagging order on Donald Trump after social media comments about court clerk

Trump also commented on the clerk yesterday, saying she ‘should not be allowed to be in his ear on every single question’ and ‘hates Trump’.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 3rd 2023, 10:35 PM

A JUDGE HAS imposed a limited gag order on Donald Trump after the former president disparaged a key court employee during his civil business fraud trial.

Judge Arthur Engoron issued the order, which applies to all parties in the case and pertains only to verbal attacks on court staff.

It came after Trump recirculated a disparaging social media post about Judge Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield.

Without naming him, Judge Engoron said a defendant in the case “posted to a social media account a disparaging, untrue and personally identifying post about a member of my staff.”

He added that “personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, not appropriate” and not tolerated.

Trump had already deleted the post.

Judge Engoron said he ordered it taken down.

The post included a photo of Greenfield with the Senate Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer at a campaign event.

The Republican front-runner for president in 2024 has repeatedly cast the lawsuit and trial as a political attack by New York’s Democratic attorney general Letitia James.

Trump also commented on the clerk yesterday, saying she “should not be allowed to be in his ear on every single question” and “hates Trump”.

The gag order came after Trump and lawyers for both sides repeatedly went into court behind closed doors during a lunch break.

justice-arthur-engoron-speaks-during-the-trial-of-former-president-donald-trump-in-a-civil-fraud-case-brought-by-state-attorney-general-letitia-james-at-a-manhattan-courthouse-in-new-york-tuesday Judge Engoron said today that “statutes of limitations bar claims, not evidence” and that in the trial’s early stage, he is inclined to give both sides leeway to connect older evidence to claims in the lawsuit. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

With Trump attending the trial for a second day, James’s lawyer questioned an accountant in an effort to build the state’s case that the former president and others at his company had full control over the preparation of misleading and false financial statements at the heart of the lawsuit against them.

And Judge Engoron set the record straight about a comment that Trump had touted as an important victory.

The judge had suggested yesterday that evidence about Trump’s 2011 financial statement might be beyond the legal time limit applicable to James’s lawsuit, which alleges that Trump and his business chronically lied about his wealth on financial statements given to banks, insurers and others.

The relevant statute of limitations rules out claims related to activities before a date in 2014, and Trump’s legal team argued that the time limit cuts off most of the case.

Judge Engoron said today that “statutes of limitations bar claims, not evidence” and that in the trial’s early stages he is inclined to give both sides leeway to connect older evidence to claims in the lawsuit.

“I want to emphasise: this trial is not an opportunity to relitigate what I have already decided,” he said. He ruled last week that all the claims were allowable under the statute of limitations.

A lawyer for James’s office, Kevin Wallace, went on to suggest he was using the 2011 document to show that Trump’s financial statements were prepared in the same manner – giving him and his company the final say over the valuations that appeared – for at least a decade.

Donald Bender, an accountant who prepared the financial statements for years, told the court that Trump’s company supplied the numbers that went into the documents.

He said that in some years, the Trump Organisation failed to provide all documents necessary for producing the statements, despite attesting in letters to the accounting firm that it had provided all financial records.

“They were not giving all of the documents that we needed,” Mr Bender said, explaining that “there were certain appraisals out there for a number of years that we had never seen”.

Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, said during one court break that he thought the trial was “going very well”.

He reiterated key points of his defence, including that the financial statements bore disclaimers saying that they were not audited and that other people “might reach different conclusions” about his financial position if they had more information.

“This case is a scam. It can’t be fraud when you’ve told institutions to do their own work,” Trump said today.

Trump plans to give evidence later in the trial, but he does not have to attend it now.

While complaining that he would rather be on the campaign trail, the former president and 2024 Republican front-runner has used waiting cameras in a courthouse hallway as a microphone for political messaging.

He claims that James, a Democrat, is wielding the justice system as a political weapon to hobble his campaign.

The trial is expected to last into December.

Author
Press Association