NEW YORK — The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial accused the former president Wednesday of potentially violating the judge’s gag order a second time, threatening Trump with “severe sanctions” for apparently disparaging the judge’s law clerk.
During a break in the proceedings, Trump told reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom that “this judge is a very partisan judge with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.”
Shortly after Trump made that comment, Justice Arthur Engoron indicated he believed Trump was referring to his law clerk, Allison Greenfield, who sits directly to the judge’s right on the bench. Trump lawyer Chris Kise told Engoron that Trump’s comment referred not to the clerk but to Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who sat a few feet away in the witness box to the judge’s left while testifying against Trump on Wednesday.
The judge initially imposed the gag order on Oct. 3 barring Trump from making comments about court staff after the former president posted a picture of Greenfield on his Truth Social platform. The post claimed that Greenfield was “running this case” and was “Schumer’s girlfriend.” The post was also sent to Trump’s campaign email list.
“I am very protective of my staff, as I should be,” Engoron said Wednesday, appearing agitated. “I don’t want anybody killed.”
“I stated the last time that any future violations would be severely punished,” Engoron said. “Why should there not be severe sanctions for this blatant, dangerous disobeyal of a court order?”
Engoron said he would take the matter under advisement, indicating that he would decide how to proceed after further considering Trump’s comment.
Last week, Engoron fined Trump $5,000 after finding that the former president’s campaign website continued to display the Oct. 3 Truth Social post despite the judge’s order that the post be taken down. (Trump’s lawyers said the violation was inadvertent.)
Engoron also indicated last week that he would consider jailing Trump for future violations of the gag order.
In his two-page order imposing the fine, he wrote. “Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him.”