Moments after a New York appeals court reinstated a gag order in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, the former president unleashed a series of baseless Truth Social posts attacking the wife of the judge presiding over the case.
He also accused her of making anti-Trump memes that included AI images of Mr Trump in orange prison jumpsuits with captions saying he’s “headed for the big house.”
A statement from the court on Thursday denied that the judge’s wife had anything to do with those posts.
“Justice Engoron’s wife has sent no social media posts regarding the former president. They are not hers,” according to a statement from Office of Court Administration spokesperson Al Baker.
“This is the Judge’s Wife and Family that are putting these things out,” Mr Trump wrote in one post. “I am not entitled to a Jury under this Statute. Can this be happening in America? This is the most unfair Trial in the History of New York, and I’ve had some pretty unfair Trials!”
The judge’s wife is “almost out of control as he is,” he wrote in another post. “How low can you get?”
A lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses Mr Trump, his two adults sons and their chief associates in the Trump Organization umbrella of defrauding financial institutions with grossly inflated estimates of his net worth and assets over a decade. The trial stemming from the lawsuit, after the judge found the defendants liable for fraud, is now in its ninth week.
On the trial’s second day, Mr Trump spread false claims about the judge’s principal law clerk on his Truth Social and from the other side of the doors outside Judge Engoron’s courtroom, prompting the judge to order Mr Trump to delete the “untrue” and “disparaging” statements before issuing a gag order that blocks all parties in the trial from attacking the court’s staff.
The gag orders do not prohibit Mr Trump, his attorneys or any other parties in the case from disparaging the judge or his family. But Judge Engoron has argued that “the First Amendment right of defendants and their attorneys to comment on my staff is far and away outweighed by the need to protect them from threats and physical harm.”
A state appellate court judge temporarily froze the orders earlier this month, “considering the constitutional and statutory rights at issue”. On Thursday, after court filings outlined the wave of credible death threats and abusive messages that followed Mr Trump’s attack, the appeals court allowed the gag orders to stand.
“The implementation of the limited gag orders resulted in a decrease in the number of threats, harassment, and disparaging messages that the judge and his staff received,” according to a recent court filing from Charles Hollon, an officer-captain with the court’s Department of Public Safety assigned to a judicial threats unit.
“However, when Mr Trump violated the gag orders, the number of threatening, harassing and disparaging messages increased,” he added.
The threats against the judge and his clerk Allison Greenfield are “serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative,” according to the filing.
Her cell phone and email address were compromised, “resulting in daily doxing,” and she has since been subjected to “harassing, disparaging comments and antisemitic tropes,” Mr Hollon wrote.
The threats “created an ongoing security risk for the judge, his staff and his family,” according to the filing.