Trump unleashes outrage at court clerk online barely an hour after gag order paused

<span>Photograph: Reuters</span>
Photograph: Reuters
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Barely an hour after a gag order prohibiting Donald Trump from commenting about court staff at his civil fraud trial in New York was temporarily lifted, he was at it again – unleashing a blitzkrieg of social media outrage at a clerk who has become the lightning rod for the former president’s rage.

Related: Trump classified documents trial running about four months behind schedule

On Thursday afternoon a New York appeals court judge, David Friedman, paused a gag order that had been placed on Trump last month. The move opened a window through which Trump could vent his unrestrained feelings.

The opportunity was seized upon almost immediately. An hour after the lifting of the gag order, one of Trump’s inner circle, senior adviser Jason Miller, took to X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

“There’s no way President Trump can receive a fair trial when Democrats are sending partisan attack dogs to do their dirty work,” he said. Then he linked to a website devoted to attacking Allison Greenfield, the clerk who has been assisting the judge in the case, Arthur Engoron, at the $250m civil lawsuit trial in which the fate of the former president’s New York-based family business, the Trump Organization, hangs.

The site labels Greenfield a “Democrat operative and hack” and accuses her of “unethical partisan Democrat activities”. It also suggests that Engoron should be “investigated and removed from the bench”.

Not long after that, Trump himself entered the fray. On his own social media platform, Truth Social, he attacked Greenfield as a “politically biased and out of control, Trump-hating clerk”.

He also accused Engoron of driving businesses and jobs out of New York City, and derided Letitia James, the New York attorney general bringing the suit against him, as a “worldwide disgrace”.

Trump is at trial in the civil lawsuit in New York over claims that the Trump Organization fraudulently inflated the value of its assets for financial benefit. Trump, his sons Eric and Don Jr, and other Trump Organization executives are all implicated. His daughter Ivanka is not a defendant but was required by the prosecution to give testimony as a witness. Donald Trump also took the stand in a dramatic appearance.

Engoron has already issued a pre-trial summary judgement finding Trump guilty of fraud and revoking his business license. Trump is appealing. The trial in Manhattan is to thrash out the details of the fraud.

Engoron imposed the gag order on Trump on 3 October after the former president posted a picture of Greenfield together with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in the US Senate, which had been drawn from her Instagram feed. Trump mocked the court clerk as “Schumer’s girlfriend”.

The judge said the gag order was necessary to protect his staff from threats. He said his chambers had receives hundreds of threatening phone calls, letters and packages. He did not impose a gag in relation to himself.

Trump has already been found to be in violation of the gag order, and was fined $15,000.

At an emergency hearing on Thursday, however, Friedman, sitting in New York state’s intermediate appeals court, found that Trump’s first amendment right to free speech was of prime importance. He stayed the gag order.

Trump has faced similar restrictions on his speech imposed by a federal judge, Tanya Chutkan, in the criminal prosecution over his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. That gag order has also been frozen by a federal appeals court.

On Wednesday, Trump filed a motion for a mistrial in the New York civil case. The motion accuses Engoron of “bias” and “improper co-judging” on the bench. Engoron on Friday denied the bid, saying he could not “in good conscience” let Trump pursue a mistrial request that was “utterly without merit”.

Trump’s bid for a mistrial had been a long shot, given Engoron’s earlier findings that Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent, and the judge’s defenses of his law clerk.

“As expected, today the court refused to take responsibility for its failure to preside over this case in an impartial and unbiased manner,” Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement. “We, however, remain undeterred and will continue to fight for our clients’ right to a fair trial.”

Reuters contributed to this report.