Attorneys for Donald Trump on Monday urged a New York appeals court to continue the pause on the gag order imposed by Judge Arthur Engoron in the civil fraud trial, arguing that the threats against the judge and his clerk do not “justify” limiting Trump’s First Amendment rights, CNN reported.
Last week, lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office and the court urged the appeals court to reimpose the gag order due to “serious and credible” threats that Judge Engoron’s chambers have received since the gag order was temporarily lifted.
In a filing on Monday, attorneys for the former president wrote that Trump’s comments about Judge Engoron and his clerk Allison Greenfield were not threats, and he should not be held responsible for the actions of others.
Trump’s attorneys argued that the former president has a First Amendment right to criticize the judge and his clerk and highlight their bias without retribution by the court, arguing that it is “essential” to maintaining public confidence in the judicial system.
They argued that any threats from “anonymous, third-party actors” against Judge Engoron or Greenfield “merits appropriate security measures” but “does not justify” limiting Trump’s First Amendment rights.
On November 16, a New York appeals court judge temporarily lifted Judge Engoron’s gag order preventing Trump and his attorneys from making statements about court staff, particularly Allison Greenfield.
It was revealed last week that Judge Engoron and Allison Greenfield have been subjected to hundreds of harassing messages. On average, Greenfield has received between 20 and 30 messages each day on her personal phone and 30 to 50 messages on personal email accounts and social media platforms.
In filings last week, attorneys for Judge Engoron urged the appeals court to reinstate the gag order, arguing that since it was lifted, the volume of harassing messages increased, and half of those directed at Greenfield were antisemitic.
Trump’s attorneys argued in Monday’s filing that none of the harassing messages could be “attributed to President Trump or his counsel,” nor have they ever made any comments about Greenfield’s “religion, appearance, or private activities.”