Trump barred from making public statements by court


NEW YORK: Former US President Donald Trump has been restrained by the judge presiding over his civil fraud trial to make any further public statements. This order includes the threat of sanctions for any breaches of the order, which was issued following Trump’s use of social media to criticize the judge’s chief law clerk.

Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York State court in Manhattan admonished the legal representatives of both Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who initiated the fraud case. He deemed attacks on his staff as “unacceptable, inappropriate, and intolerable in any circumstance.”

During the trial’s second day of testimony, the judge issued an order prohibiting both parties from discussing his staff and cautioned of “severe consequences” for any violations. Judge Engoron went on to characterise this directive as a “gag order.”

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Letitia James has alleged that Donald Trump, along with his two adult sons, the Trump Organisation, and others, engaged in a decade-long scheme to inflate the values of assets for the purpose of securing favorable bank loans and insurance terms.

They are also accused of significantly exaggerating Trump’s personal wealth by over $2 billion. The outcome of this trial could potentially have far-reaching implications for Trump’s business empire, as he simultaneously pursues a return to the presidency in 2024.

Engoron’s remarks followed an incident in which Trump shared a social media post featuring the clerk, whose identity was disclosed, posing with New York Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has no involvement in the case. Trump referred to the clerk as “Schumer’s girlfriend” and expressed his disapproval, calling for an immediate dismissal of the case. Trump’s post was later removed.

Prior to the trial, Judge Engoron had already ruled that Trump had engaged in fraudulent activities, leading to the revocation of business certificates for companies controlling prominent assets in Trump’s portfolio, including Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan.

The trial will assess six additional claims, including falsification of business records, insurance fraud, and conspiracy, and determine the extent of penalties imposed on the defendants. The trial is expected to extend into December.

Christopher Kise, Trump’s attorney, argued before the court on Monday that his client’s asset valuations were, in fact, too conservative and were based on business acumen that enabled Trump to build “one of the most successful real estate empires in the world.”

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