A New York judge ruled Friday that a limited gag order on Donald Trump should also apply to his attorneys, citing their remarks about his staff and the deluge of threats and harassment directed at his office since the former president’s fraud trial began.
“The threat of, and actual, violence resulting from heated political rhetoric is well-documented,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron wrote in a fiery court order Friday afternoon.
“My chambers have been inundated with hundreds of harassing and threating phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters, and packages” since the trial started, he wrote.
Friday’s order prohibits attorneys in the case from making any public statements, in or out of court, about confidential communications between the judge and his staff. But they can still refer to the clerk in the context of court schedules and procedure.
“The First Amendment right of defendants and their attorneys to comment on my staff is far and away outweighed by the need to protect them from threats and physical harm,” wrote the judge.
Violating the gag order “shall result in serious sanctions,” he added.
Engoron imposed similar restrictions on Trump on Oct. 3, after the former president shared a social media post attacking the judge’s principal law clerk. Since then, Trump has violated the gag order twice, and Engoron has imposed fines of first $5,000, and then $10,000.
Engoron’s newest order singled out two of Trump’s lawyers, Christopher Kise and Alina Habba, for making what he said were “repeated, inappropriate remarks” about the same clerk Trump attacked.
Kise and Habba say their chief complaint is the judge’s habit of using handwritten notes to communicate with his law clerk, which Kise said creates “an appearance of impropriety.”