Former President Donald Trump at court in New York on Oct. 3, 2023.

Judge orders Trump to delete ‘disparaging’ post about his law clerk and threatens sanctions

The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial in New York issued a partial gag order in the case Tuesday after the former president trashed the judge’s law clerk on social media.

“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I won’t tolerate it,” an angry Judge Arthur Engoron said after Trump’s post and comments about his law clerk.

“Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff,” Engoron said, warning that violations would be met with swift and meaningful sanctions.

Judge Arthur Engoron presides over former President Donald Trump's fraud trial in New York.Judge Arthur Engoron on Tuesday.Dave Sanders / Pool via AP

The order came after Trump blasted Engoron’s law clerk on social media earlier Tuesday, and then amplified the attack in brief remarks to reporters during the lunch break.

Trump had posted on Truth Social a different user’s tweet of an Instagram post showing the law clerk at an event where she posed with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The posting on X, the former Twitter, questioned why she was “palling around” with Schumer.

Trump’s post went further, referring to the clerk as “Schumer’s girlfriend” and said she “is running this case against me. How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately.”

He then referred to it to reporters during the lunch break, saying, “You saw what was just put out about Schumer and the principal clerk? That is disgraceful.”

The trial was supposed to resume at 2:15 p.m., but was delayed for about 45 minutes. During that time period, Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise and Eric Trump were seen approaching the judge’s chambers, and the Truth Social post was removed from Trump’s feed.

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Engoron, who has not reacted publicly to Trump’s numerous attacks against him calling him biased and a “Trump-hating judge,” made clear his staff is out of bounds. He said the comments on the post about his clerk were “disparaging” and “untrue” and included personally identifying information, and that he’d ordered the post to be deleted.

Also during the lunch break, the Trump campaign sent out an email criticizing Engoron, mocking him as a “far-left Democrat” with excerpts of articles from far-right websites that were critical of the judge.

Each time Trump has been chastised in one of his cases for violating decorum and attacking a judge or witness, prosecutors in his other cases have cited it as a reason for limiting his ability to discuss the details of cases publicly.

The office of special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the Justice Department’s election interference case against Trump, said in a filing last week that Trump has waged “a sustained campaign of prejudicial public statements regarding witnesses, the Court, the District, and prosecutors.” Smith’s team argued that Trump should be restricted in his remarks about the case due to his past comments about then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and others.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has ordered an Oct. 16 hearing on Smith’s motion for a narrow gag order in that case.

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss is a reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC.

Lisa Rubin

Lisa Rubin is a former litigator and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Dareh Gregorian

Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.

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