According to DailyBeast, Donald Trump is employing a strategy to defy gag orders in legal cases, as seen in his New York bank fraud trial. Although the trial itself may not end favorably for Trump, his approach to gag orders is creating a blueprint for his defiance. The strategy involves making statements that lead to a gag order, appealing the decision, and even if the gag order is upheld, refusing to delete social media posts made during the confusion. This allows Trump’s old posts to circulate and inspire threats against his targets while he seemingly avoids consequences. Legal experts view this as a preview of Trump’s tactics in upcoming criminal trials in Washington, New York, South Florida, and possibly Georgia in 2024.
Trump’s ongoing bank fraud trial in New York involves repeated orders to remove online statements verbally harassing Justice Arthur F. Engoron’s right-hand legal adviser, law clerk Allison Greenfield. The billionaire-turned-politician’s heated rhetoric has inspired his vengeful MAGA battalion to inundate the court with death threats. He already paid a $15,000 fine for his intransigence, having refused to delete past posts. But he’s in the same situation again. By fighting the judge’s initial order, scoring a temporary win on appeal, then ultimately losing the battle last month, Trump created enough confusion in the interim that he managed to dish out attacks during the brief lifting of the gag order without facing repercussions. Even though the gag order demanded that he delete every mention of Greenfield, several of his recent statements remain on his Truth Social media network—and keep getting shared thousands of times. His Nov. 30 post, which is still up, fumes about the “very disturbed and angry law clerk” having “control of the New York State Witch Hunt Trial.”
The comment drew more than 1,000 comments of mixed reactions ranging from full-throated support to warnings that his continued attacks will land him in jail. His Nov. 21 screed, also still up, complains about the way the “horrendous, seething with ANGER Law Clerk, with her illegal campaign contributions, will find me guilty as hell.” Among the 1,600 responses are several calls for ultimate vengeance against the “deep state” going after Trump—as well as warnings that the billionaire is clearly gaming the legal system. “Trump sure is taking advantage of the gag order being paused by the appeals judge,” one commenter noted. Others have used Trump’s public ire to coordinate a campaign to flood the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct with spurious complaints aimed at Engoron and Greenfield, with one account sharing a copy of an official response from the agency.
This tactic isn’t just reserved for average Trump loyalists. It was adopted last month by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who filed a formal complaint with the commission. (It wasn’t the first time the congresswoman—who appears to be vying for a spot as Trump’s 2024 vice presidential running mate—has weighed in on the trial. She recently used her position on the House Intelligence Committee to ask the Justice Department to criminally investigate an AG witness, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.) In a response to The Daily Beast, the New York judicial conduct commission would not disclose how many of these complaints have been filed, citing state secrecy rules. It’s rare enough to have someone personally attack a judge—much less their court staff. But when it happens, a judicial gag order is typically more than enough to shut them up. The Republican political operative Roger Stone, an on-and-off Trump associate, famously had to apologize for violating a gag order after he very stupidly posted a picture of a federal judge with crosshairs threateningly superimposed near her face.
But Trump, a billionaire with a long history of weaponizing his wealth to engage in vexatious litigation, has employed lawfare tactics during his ongoing trial against New York Attorney General Letitia James—seizing on the confusion of a gag order that keeps expanding and getting reinstated. When Justice Engoron caught him delivering irate speeches outside the courtroom maligning his law clerk, the judge imposed a gag order on just the second day of trial in October. In court, Engoron warned that “personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable” and issued an order “forbidding all parties from posting, emailing, or speaking publicly about any members of my staff.” That was Round One. A few weeks later, Engoron was alerted to the fact that Trump’s 2024 campaign website had neglected to take down a post lying about Greenfield’s personal life. Engoron fined him $5,000 and threatened him with prison time. “This court is way beyond the warning stage,” Engoron said. That was Round Two. In late October, the ever-defiant presidential hopeful ignored the gag order when he delivered an impromptu speech outside the courtroom yet again, this time complaining obliquely about the “person who’s very partisan sitting alongside of [Engoron.]” The judge yanked him onto the witness stand, forcing him to testify and concluding that Trump’s implausible defense—that he was directing his ire at Michael Cohen, not Greenfield—wasn’t convincing. Engoron said Trump’s explanation was “not credible,” and fined him another $10,000.