A New York appellate court on Thursday reinstated the gag orders prohibiting Donald Trump and his lawyers from making public statements about the principal law clerk of the judge overseeing the former president's ongoing civil fraud trial, The Messenger reports. The partial gag orders bar all parties at the trial from commenting on Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron's staff. The orders, however, do not prohibit comment on the judge himself or New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case, both of whom Trump has repeatedly derided online.
"I intend to enforce the gag orders rigorously and vigorously, and I want to make sure counsel inform their clients," Engoron said of the ruling in open court Thursday. "We’re aware, your honor," Trump's lead attorney Christopher Kise responded, adding: "It’s a tragic day for the rule of law." In a subsequent statement to the press, Kise further lamented the ruling. "In a country where the First Amendment is sacrosanct, President Trump may not even comment on why he thinks he cannot get a fair trial," Kise said. "Hard to imagine a more unfair process and hard to believe this is happening in America."
The appellate court's ruling comes after attorneys for the New York state court system revealed last week via court filing that Engoron and his principal law clerk have been bombarded with hundreds of threatening, harassing and disparaging telephone and social media messages, including death threats, in the wake of Trump's online attacks. A federal appellate court in Washington, D.C. is also weighing whether to reinstate a separate order imposed on the former president that prevents him from attacking witnesses in his federal election subversion case.