A New York appeals court has lifted the gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump. Justice Arthur F. Engoron, who is presiding over Trump’s bank fraud trial, had previously issued a gag order against Trump following comments made by the former President. Now, that order is void.
Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s first department issued the ruling from the bench, the AP reported today. Friedman killed the gag order on constitutional grounds, citing the free speech rights of former President Donald Trump.
The order, imposed on October 3, was intended to prevent Trump from making public statements about any member of Engoron’s staff. This came after Trump’s remarks on social media and to the press, where he questioned the impartiality of the trial due to the alleged political affiliations of Engoron’s principal law clerk, Alison Greenfield.
Trump had criticized Engoron’s law clerk, alleging connections to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and labeling the trial a “witch hunt.” Engoron then took issue in particular with the post by Trump on Truth Social that was critical of Greenfield, sharing an image of her with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Trump wrote in a since-deleted post, “Schumer’s girlfriend, Alison R. Greenfield, is running this case against me. How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately.” Trump’s legal team and supporters have pointed toward the gag orders as evidence of a politically motivated trial, underscoring what they perceive as an ongoing pattern of bias against the former President.
“You saw what was just put out about Schumer and the principal clerk. That is disgraceful,” Trump told the press, adding that the trial was “rigged” and “fraudulent.” The lifting of the gag order has now allowed Trump to speak freely, a right supporters argue should never have been infringed upon.
As a result, Engoron imposed a $15,000 fine on Trump for the remarks he made outside the courtroom, deemed as a breach of the gag order. However, Trump’s legal team contested this interpretation, asserting that the comments were actually aimed at his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, rather than the judge’s law clerk.
The decision to lift the gag order occurs against the backdrop of numerous legal hurdles for Trump. Merely two weeks earlier, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan had also placed a restricted gag order on Trump in a different case, this one related to alleged interference in the election process.
Critics of the legal actions against Trump have been vocal in their accusations of political bias. They point to the extensive connections of judges like Engoron to the Democratic Party as evidence of a lack of impartiality in the judicial process.
On Wednesday, a group of 18 Republican state attorneys general filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Trump’s appeal against the gag order imposed by D.C. Court of Appeals District Judge Tanya Chutkan.
They argued, “As administrators of free and fair elections, we have an interest in ensuring no illegal prior restraint is entered against any major political candidate. Indeed, our citizens have an interest in hearing from major political candidates in that election. The Order threatens the States’ interests by infringing on President Trump’s free speech rights.”