Trump seeks “urgent review” of gag order ruling in New York civil fraud case

Former President Donald Trump intends to appeal a ruling that upheld a gag order in his civil fraud trial in New York, with his attorneys saying Monday that they plan to ask the state’s highest court to review the decision.

New York Judge Arthur Engoron issued the order barring Trump from commenting publicly about his staff after the former president published a social media post disparaging Engoron’s clerk on Oct. 3, the second day of the trial. The order was later expanded to apply to attorneys in the case.

The judge found that Trump and his campaign violated the gag order twice, and Trump paid $15,000 in fines, before the appeals court temporarily stayed the order on Nov. 16. That hiatus lasted two weeks, while a panel of judges in the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court considered, and then rejected, Trump’s request to have the gag order lifted.

Trump is now seeking an “urgent review” by New York’s highest court, called the Court of Appeals, his attorneys said in a filing. Trump has accused Engoron and the clerk, Allison Greenfield, of bias in his filings. 

“Without expedited review, [the defendants] will continue to suffer irreparable injury daily, as they are silenced on matters implicating the appearance of bias and impropriety on the bench during a trial of immense stakes,” Trump attorney Clifford Robert wrote. “Petitioners’ counsel have no means of preserving evidence of or arguments regarding such bias and impropriety at this time, since the Gag Orders also prohibit in-court statements.”

Engoron has frequently defended Greenfield, saying he relies on her for legal consultations and is entitled to do so. 

A top court security official wrote in an affidavit that transcriptions of threats to Greenfield and Engoron produced since Trump’s original Oct. 3 social media post filled 275 single-spaced pages. Charles Hollen, an official in the Department of Public Safety, said the threats included calls to Greenfield’s personal phone and messages to her personal email account.

Hollen wrote that the threats increased when the gag order was stayed, and that during that time, “approximately half of the harassing and disparaging messages have been antisemitic.”

Trump and his aides targeted Greenfield in social media posts immediately after the gag order was temporarily lifted on Nov. 16. Within an hour of being free to do so, Trump aide Jason Miller called her a “partisan attack dog” on the social media site X. A few hours later, Trump himself posted that she’s “biased.” 

Trump posted about Greenfield multiple times during the two-week window in which he was free to do so, but has not in the days since the order was reinstated.

Trump, his two adult sons and their company have already been found liable for fraud in the case, in which they’re accused of reaping at least $250 million through a decade-long scheme to artificially inflate Trump’s net worth while pursuing deals with banks and insurers. The trial is proceeding on unresolved allegations related to conspiracy, falsification of business records and insurance fraud. Disgorgement, a form of financial penalty, will also be assessed. The former president and his co-defendants have denied all wrongdoing, blaming accountants for any inaccuracies in their financial statements.

Trump, who has already been called to the stand by the state, is expected to be re-called as a witness by his own lawyers on Dec. 11. They have said he will be their final witness.

Closing arguments are expected to be on Jan. 11, allowing the two sides nearly a month to first submit proposed written filings related to the trial following witness testimony.

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