Experts: Trump risks "sanctions" after deciding to "wage war" against judge's wife on Truth Social

Arthur Engoron Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Arthur Engoron Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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Former Donald Trump is targeting the wife of the New York judge overseeing his $250 million civil fraud trial on social media, accusing her as well as a law clerk of taking “over control” of the trial against him.

“Judge Engoron’s Trump Hating wife, together with his very disturbed and angry law clerk, have taken over control of the New York State Witch Hunt Trial aimed at me, my family, and the Republican Party,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social. “This is such an embarrassment to all within the New York State Judicial System, as murder and violent crime rage like never before!”

The former president shared multiple posts from conservative activist Laura Loomer accusing Justice Arthur Engoron's wife, Dawn Marie Engoron, of attacking him on X/Twitter through sharing images. Dawn Engoron has firmly denied making the posts and told Newsweek that the account does not belong to her, but conservatives have instead argued the posts should result in a mistrial or dismissal of the civil case.

One post Loomer screenshotted showed an account under the screen name Dawn Marie with the username @dm_sminxs sharing an image of someone spray-painting "F—k Trump" on a brick wall. Additional posts from the same account featured depictions of an individual in prison attire and mocked the courtroom performance of Trump's lawyer Alina Habba.

“Today’s decision by a New York appeals court to reinstate the gag order that barred Trump from commenting on court personnel could not be more timely,” Temidayo Aganga-Williams, white-collar partner at Selendy Gay Elsberg and former senior investigative counsel for the House Jan. 6 committee, told Salon. “Trump’s decision to expand his attacks to include Judge Engoron’s wife will also likely result in the newly-reinstated gag order being expanded to include, at a minimum, the family members of court personnel.”

The ruling from a panel of four judges came just two weeks after a single appellate judge had temporarily suspended the order during the ongoing appeals process during which Trump resumed his verbal attacks on the clerk Allison Greenfield.

State court officials argued the gag order was essential as the volume of threats and harassment directed at the clerk “increased exponentially” as a result of Trump's social media attacks.

The filing also contained transcripts of voicemails left on Engoron’s chambers phone with messages including threats and vulgar language. Such messages have created an “ongoing security risk for the judge, his staff and his family,” the filing noted.

Engoron, who issued the gag orders, said Thursday: "I intend to enforce the gag orders rigorously and vigorously and I want to make sure counsel informs their clients of the fact that the stay was vacated.”

The orders only bar Trump and his attorneys from talking about court staff and don’t prevent the former president from criticizing Engoron or state Attorney General Letitia James' office, which brought the case against him, NBC News reported.

“A gag order must be narrow enough to permit political speech, but broad enough to protect individuals at risk,” former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor, told Salon. “Perhaps the gag order will need to be amended to include family members.”

The ex-president and his legal team have undertaken a “bizarre approach” to a bench trial, where the judge and not a jury serves as the fact-finder.  They have decided to “wage war” against the judge, his staff, and now his family, Aganga-Williams said.

“Trump has squarely focused on undermining these legal proceedings by trying to impermissibly influence public opinion and intimidate both witnesses and court personnel,” he added. “These efforts should be seen for what they are – a sign of weakness.”

The former president previously baselessly accused Greenfield of being involved in a romantic relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Such comments have resulted in the law clerk’s cell phone number and email addresses being compromised in addition to being subject to “disparaging comments and antisemitic tropes” on a daily basis.

He and his lawyers claim the clerk acts as a “co-judge” in the case and have criticized her for exchanging notes and advising the judge during testimony. Within the first few weeks of the trial, Engoron fined Trump $15,000 for violating the gag order on two separate occasions.

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Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani said he expects the judge to “sanction Trump for future attacks against his family.” However, Engoron’s wife’s posts won’t affect the case.

“Family members’ social media content isn’t legal grounds to disqualify a judge,” Rahmani said. "Look no further than Ginni Thomas. Justice Thomas hasn’t had to recuse himself from Supreme Court cases because of her public comments.”

Aganga-Williams added that Trump has “chosen to attack and provoke” the one person standing between him and a “massive civil judgment. I expect that decision will prove to be a costly one.”