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New York: The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial on Tuesday imposed a gag order – promising sanctions for any violations – after the former US president used social media to lash out against the judge’s top law clerk.
Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan told lawyers for Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the fraud case, that attacks on his staff were “unacceptable, inappropriate and will not be tolerated under any circumstances”.
Former president Donald Trump stops to speak to the media during a break in his civil business fraud trial at New York Supreme Court.Credit: AP
Acting on the second day of testimony in the trial, the judge forbade both sides from speaking about his staff, and threatened “serious sanctions” if anyone did.
“Consider this statement a gag order,” Engoron added.
James has accused Trump, his two adult sons, the Trump Organisation and others of inflating asset values over a decade to secure favourable bank loans and insurance terms, and exaggerating Trump’s own riches by more than $US2 billion. The trial could lead to the dismantling of Trump’s business empire as he seeks to regain the presidency in 2024.
Engoron spoke after Trump shared a social media post of the clerk, who was identified by name, posing with Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who is not involved in the case. Trump referred to the clerk as “Schumer’s girlfriend”.
“How disgraceful!” added Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. “This case should be dismissed immediately!!”
Trump’s post was later deleted.
The order came as the government’s first witness, Trump’s former accountant Donald Bender, tested for a second day as the attorney general’s office tries to show that Trump and his family business deceived even the people reviewing his financials.
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