NEW YORK — The judge overseeing former President Trump’s New York civil fraud trial on Wednesday suggested the former president once again violated a gag order imposed earlier this month relating to comments made about court staff.
Judge Arthur Engoron cited reporting by The Associated Press that indicated Trump said to news media the judge is a “very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even more partisan than he is.”
“It’s easy for the public or anyone to know who that is,” Engoron said, suggesting Trump was commenting on his principal law clerk, who sits next to the judge on the bench.
“I’m very protective of my staff, and I believe I should be; I don’t want anybody killed,” he said.
The gag order was originally imposed after Trump’s Truth Social account derided the clerk as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) “girlfriend” and included personally identifying information about her. Engoron ordered Trump to take down the post, and it was removed from Truth Social.
Last week, Trump was hit with a $5,000 fine after it was discovered that the post had not been removed from his campaign website 17 days later. Trump lawyer Chris Kise blamed the “very large machine” of Trump’s presidential campaign for allowing his deleted social media post to remain on his website, calling it an unintentional oversight.
Engoron acknowledged Trump’s assertion that the post staying up was inadvertent and said he would give him the “benefit of the doubt.” But Wednesday, he suggested serious penalties could be in order for the purported violation.
“Why should there not be severe sanctions for this blatant, dangerous disobeyal of a clear court order?” Engoron asked.
Kise replied Trump was not referring to the clerk — he was referring to Cohen.
“My understanding of what was said — I believe what Mr. Trump will tell you — was he was talking to Michael Cohen, his credibility as a witness. … I’ve asked him and that’s exactly what he said,” Kise said.
Engoron said it “seems clear to me” Trump was referring to the clerk, but he would take the issue under advisement.