Since 2 October 2023, former President Donald Trump has been on trial for fraud. As we’ve previously reported, this trial has not been easy for Trump and the aftermath of it could be colossal.
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As a quick reminder, Trump has already been found guilty of 'defrauding banks and insurers’ on 26 September by Judge Engoron. Moreover, Judge Engoron had to issue a limited gag order on Trump on 3 October after he posted a picture of a court clerk on Truth Social. His post not only showed the clerk but was defamatory and revealed her name.
It is the same post which could now have serious consequences for Trump. All of this because of one small oversight.
The picture incident
On 3 October, a day after the trial started, Trump took to Truth Social where he posted a picture of Allison Greenfield with a caption that talked about her personal life. Trump alleged that she was the ‘girlfriend’ of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Needless to say that the picture was shared without Greenfield’s consent.
After the incident, Judge Engoron vehemently condemned Trump’s behaviour and said:
Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I will not tolerate them under any circumstances
Making it crystal clear that:
Failure to abide by this order will result in serious sanctions
Trump deleted the picture and post from Truth Social and his civil fraud case moved along. But now, the picture is back in the spotlight.
At the time of this incident, the media, Judge Engoron and the prosecution solely focused on the fact that Trump had shared the inflammatory post on Truth Social. However, it has now surfaced that Trump also shared this post on his website.
And while the Truth Social post was deleted immediately, the same post on his website wasn’t.Daily Beast reports that until Thursday 19 October, lawyers on both sides weren’t aware. They explain:
The court apparently didn’t notice that until Ron Filipkowski at the liberal website MeidasTouch wrote about it on Thursday, sparking a notification to attorneys on both sides.
When MeidasTouch published the article, Trump’s team took down the website post but the fact remains: Trump did not comply with Judge Engoron’s gag order.
The issue here is simple and has been brought forward and made clear by the prosecution in another of Trump’s trials. Prosecutors in his election interference trial asked on 10 October that Judge Tanya Chutkan issue a gag order in order to protect jurors and prosecutors from the former president’s social media rants. They wrote:
Given that the defendant — after apparently reviewing opposition research on court staff — chose to use social media to publicly attack a court staffer, there is cause for concern about what he may do with social media research on potential jurors in this case
Trump’s posts threaten the safety of the people he writes about as one cannot deny that his supporters are strong and known to be ruthless. When he posts someone’s identity, he violates their safety.
That is why, Judge Chutkan, on Monday 16 October issued the gag order saying:
Mr. Trump is facing criminal charges (...) He does not get to respond to every criticism of him if his response would affect potential witnesses. That’s the bottom line here.
As a reminder, violating a gag order has serious consequences. Someone who violates this order would be in contempt of court and could face a fine or jail time.
What will Judge Engoron decide to do?
BBC News: Donald Trump: Judge issues gag order on former president in NY fraud case
AP: New York judge issues limited gag order after Trump sends disparaging post about court clerk
AP: Citing Trump’s online attacks, US prosecutors seek protections for potential jurors in election case
Daily Beast: Trump Is About to Be Ripped to Shreds by NYC Bank Fraud Trial Judge
MeidasTouch: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Never Removed Post About Judge's Clerk from Website
Rolling Stone: Trump Wastes No Time Attacking Judge Who Slapped Him With Gag Order