Former President Donald Trump recently urged a New York appeals court to continue to pause the gag order against him in his civil fraud trial, saying that threats to the judge and his law clerk do not “justify” limiting the former president’s constitutional right to defend himself via CNN.
It has been noted that the Lawyers for the New York attorney general’s office and the court last week urged the appeals court to put the gag order back in place following “serious and credible” threats that have inundated Judge Arthur Engoron’s chambers since the trial began in October.
Trump’s attorneys wrote in a filing Monday that the former president has never threatened the judge or his principal law clerk and they can’t be held responsible for actions taken by others. They argued that Trump’s First Amendment right to criticize and call out his perception of bias by the judge and his law clerk without retribution is “essential” to maintaining public confidence in the trial.
“At base, the disturbing behavior engaged in by anonymous, third-party actors towards the judge and Principal Law Clerk publicly presiding over an extremely polarizing and high-profile trial merits appropriate security measures,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
“However, it does not justify the wholesale abrogation of Petitioners’ First Amendment rights in a proceeding of immense stakes to Petitioners, which has been compromised by the introduction of partisan bias on the bench.”
Monday’s filing was the first since hundreds of harassing messages against Engoron and a law clerk were made public last week. Engoron’s clerk has received 20-30 calls per day to her personal cell phone and 30-50 messages daily on social media platforms and two personal email addresses, according to court papers.