"Unacceptable": Judge slaps Trump with gag order after he targeted law clerk

Trump shared a post featuring a photo of the clerk and falsely called her Chuck Schumer's "girlfriend"

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published October 3, 2023 3:39PM (EDT)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media at New York State Supreme court during the second day of the civil fraud trial against him on October 03, 2023 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media at New York State Supreme court during the second day of the civil fraud trial against him on October 03, 2023 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The New York judge in Donald Trump's civil fraud case issued a limited gag order against the former president Tuesday after he attacked the judge's clerk on social media while in court, according to The Messenger.

"Personal attacks on members on my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I won't tolerate it [in my courtroom]," New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said in court, according to the report. "Consider this a gag order for all parties from posting about any members of my staff," he added.

In a since-deleted post to Truth Social, Trump falsely called Engoron's principal law clerk Senate Majority Leader Chuck "Schumer's girlfriend" and linked to her Instagram account.

"Schumer's girlfriend, Alison R. Greenfield, is running this case against me," Trump wrote in the post. "How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately!!"

"I have since ordered the post deleted," Engoron reportedly said.

The former president had doubled down on the claim to press outside the courtroom during a break in the trial, also adding a jab at New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the lawsuit against him. Engoron last week found Trump liable of defrauding banks and insurers in his statements of financial condition and began the trial Monday to consider the six remaining matters in the lawsuit. 

"This trial is a rigged trial. It's a fraudulent trial. The attorney general is a fraud, and we have to expose her as that," he told reporters. "You see what's going on — it's a rigged deal. And frankly, you saw what was just put out about Schumer and the principal clerk — that is disgraceful."

As Politico reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan pointed out, however, the allegation Trump's attempting to push is connected to a long-running rumor about Schumer, D-N.Y., that the Associated Press reported began on a now-defunct satire website. 

In 2017 the satire site America's Last Line of Defense created the story that Schumer had an "affair" in 1977 with his daughter's best friend from high school when the girl was 16, adding that Schumer's daughter "Lisa" had disclosed the scandal. But Schumer does not have a daughter named Lisa, neither of his two daughters had been born by 1977 and the details of the story are untrue. 

An internet archive shows in 2018 the "about" section of the site read, "America's Last Line of Defense is a whimsical playland of conservative satire" and "Everything on this website is fiction."

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At the time the satire piece ran, Alabama voters were set to vote in a special Senate election just days later, and Republican candidate Roy Moore had come under fire after allegations of him engaging in sexual misconduct with underage girls in the later 1970s rose to the fore. 

Since then, several versions of the false story about Schumer have made the rounds on social media and right-wing websites as if it were true, AP reported.

While pushing the claims against Greenfield to reporters outside the courtroom Monday afternoon, Trump also lambasted the judge and his recent decision, calling Engoron a "disgrace" to other judges.

"He ruled that we lost part of the case because he's a Democrat club politician. He's a Democrat operative, and he's a disgrace to people that call themselves judges. And I hope my lawyers go in and I hope they fight him very hard because this guy's getting away with murder," Trump said of the judge. 

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"Trump savaging the judge and judge's clerk in the courthouse?!?"  MSNBC commentator Tristan Snell, a former prosecutor at the New York Attorney General's office, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "Literally ANY other party doing this would be slapped with contempt of court and be either paying a fine or being placed under arrest."

"Mark my words: this is the first of many gag orders against Trump that will be issued by Justice Engoron in this case," predicted MSNBC legal analyst Katie Phang. "Also: the fact that Trump took the time to post this attack on his failing social media platform DURING the trial (the trial was on a brief recess) just goes to show how little respect he has for the judicial process."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Aggregate Arthur Engoron Donald Trump Letitia James Politics