NY judge to Trump: Shut up or go to jail
Trump spews venomous comments during break in New York trial. Now he is under a gag order to cease and desist from his poisonous rants. Craig Ruttle/AP

NEW YORK—Somebody finally ordered Donald Trump to shut up: New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron.

In the most notable development of the second day of the Trump fraud trial in Manhattan, Engoron pulled no punches after learning a Trump tweet on his Truth Social account, claimed, falsely, that the judge’s chief court clerk, Allison Greenfield, was “the girlfriend” of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Such personal defamation is a common Trump tactic.

“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, not appropriate,” Engoron told Trump, his lawyers, and other defendants in the case after the trial’s lunch break. The judge denounced “a disparaging, untrue, and personally identifying post about a member of my staff,” by “one of the defendants.”

Then he issued the gag order. “Serious sanctions” would be fines, restrictions, and up to 30 days in jail if Trump breaks it. Judge Engoron’s gag order applies to all defendants and their lawyers in the continuing fraud case against Trump, his real estate empire, and his family co-defendants. The judge has already ruled New York State Attorney General Letitia James could seek up to $250 million in fines against Trump for longstanding financial frauds.

His order could also pave the way for a gag order by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in D.C., who is handling the Justice Department’s civil case against former Oval Office occupant Trump for arranging, aiding and abetting the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite invasion, insurrection and attempted coup d’état.

When he was first arraigned in that trial, Trump agreed to a written court document promising not to prejudice that trial through defamatory out-of-court statements.

Continues his attacks

It hasn’t prevented him from defaming New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James, Special Counsel Smith, Judge Chutkan, the D.C. jury pool in the slightly plurality Black city—where he won only 5% of the vote in 2020—or Judge Engoron, among others. And before entering the courtroom, Trump was at it again. First, he declared the case should be dismissed because “the statute of limitations is a very real thing in this country.”

When Judge Engoron learned of that, he replied in court: “This trial is not an opportunity to re-litigate what I have already decided,” that the statute doesn’t apply. Trump’s frauds, in any case, ran through his White House term and continue now, rendering his claims that the statute of limitations has run out irrelevant. Trump then declared during the lunch break and before the gag order, “This trial is a rigged trial,” and it “should be dismissed because it’s terrible.”

Further, James, who brought the fraud case, “should be dismissed also because she’s grossly incompetent.” The day before Trump called James, who is Black and who also was in court both days, “a racist in reverse.”

The whole swirling array of Trump’s trials has produced cowed silence from all but a few congressional Republicans and Republican officeholders nationwide. Political analysts virtually unanimously say the pols are terrified of retribution at the polls from Trumpite voters—a majority of whom now support another Trump White House run.

Besides the New York trial and the D.C. trial, Trump faces a federal trial in Florida for illegally purloining top-secret federal papers—including a Pentagon plan to go to war on Iran—when he left the White House.

Trump also faces trial in Fulton County (Atlanta), Ga., with 18 others for racketeering in his multitude of schemes to try to steal Georgia’s electoral votes in 2020—and elsewhere, too, DA Fani Willis found.

But while Judge Engoron threatened to shut up Trump, Trump issued his own “shut up” demand the same day the judge did—to other Republican presidential hopefuls.

The crowd, minus Trump, has held two party-sponsored presidential debates so far. Trump wants the Republican National Committee to cancel the rest and work to beat incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden next year. Several of them rejected his demand. The RNC was silent.

“Anything less, along with other reasons not to cancel, are an admission to the grassroots that their concerns about voter integrity are not taken seriously and national Republicans are more concerned about helping Joe Biden than ensuring a safe and secure election,” top Trump advisors Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a campaign statement.

Trump disdained the first two debates. He skipped the second one to go to Michigan to speak to what he claimed were auto and auto parts workers—but who, in fact, were not.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.