Donald Trump faces reinstated gag order after flood of web insults
New York, New York - An appeals court on Thursday reimposed a limited gag order on former president Donald Trump intended to protect court staff at his New York civil fraud trial after a flood of online abuse.
Judge Arthur Engoron had slapped the gag order on Trump on October 3 after he insulted the judge's principal law clerk in a post on his Truth Social platform.
Trump's attorneys appealed the order, claiming it violated his right to free speech and it had been suspended pending a hearing.
On Thursday, the appeals court panel rejected Trump's appeal and reimposed the speech restrictions.
"On a daily basis, the judge and his staff are being inundated with hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemail messages, and emails," some of them antisemitic, according to a document in the decision.
It said personal details of the clerk who has faced Trump's ire, including her phone number, had been revealed and that she was receiving 20 to 30 calls a day.
Engoron has fined the 77-year-old Trump a total of $15,000 for two violations of the restriction.
Trump and his two eldest sons are accused of inflating the value of their real estate assets to receive more favorable bank loans and insurance terms. Trump testified on November 6 and is expected to take the witness stand again on December 11.
He has called Engoron "crazy" and "unhinged" and denounced New York state prosecutor Letitia James, who is Black, as "corrupt" and "racist."
Trump lawyer calls gag order reinstatement "tragic day"
In a statement to the media, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise called Thursday's decision to reinstate the gag order a "tragic day for the rule of law."
Trump's freedom of speech is also an issue in the federal trial due to open on March 4 in Washington, where he is accused of seeking to upend the results of the 2020 election in a concerted effort that led to the violent January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by his supporters.
Cover photo: JIM VONDRUSKA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP