Former President Donald Trump released a video Saturday blasting the New York judge overseeing his civil fraud trial as a “lunatic,” a day after the judge fined Trump $5,000 for violating a gag order in the case, despite criticizing the the judge would not constitute a breach of the order.
Trump posted a video of New York Judge Arthur Engoron on his social media platform Truth Social with the caption: “It’s scary to think how much power this lunatic has right now.”
In the seemingly innocuous video, which compiles excerpts from a 2015 speech Engoron gave to students at Queensborough Community College in New York, Engoron admits that “it’s hard to put aside my own emotions” in court cases and that “jurors have misunderstand a lot,” adding that he experienced situations in court that made him ask “how could [the jury] have you thought that?”
Trump, who is accused along with his business partners and the Trump Organization of inflating the value of his assets, was granted a gag order earlier this month along with all parties in the civil fraud case, barring him from making public statements , emails or social media posts regarding “all members of [Engoron’s] employees,” with Engoron calling these types of comments “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.”
That gag order came in response to a photo Trump released on Oct. 3 showing Engoron’s official with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) insinuating that the case was politically motivated, which Engoron claimed it was “false, disparaging and personally identifying.”
Trump, who has made a habit of publicly criticizing prosecutors in a number of legal battles, often turning to Truth Social to do so, was fined $5,000 on Friday as a result of the photo, which was released before the order took effect and was removed from Truth Social but apparently remained on Trump’s website until Thursday – Engoron had previously threatened potential jail time for violating the gag order.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed the civil suit against Trump and his business associates, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, following a civil investigation into the Trump Organization. In the $250 million lawsuit, James alleged that Trump and his associates committed “repeated and persistent” fraudulent acts, including by inflating the value of Trump’s assets. Trump denied the allegations and claimed the case was politically motivated, saying James – a Democrat – filed the case “to make me look bad,” while also claiming she was motivated by “political reasons and reasons for interference in elections”. Engoron ruled last month that the defendants in the case inflated the value of their assets, including his Trump Tower penthouse in New York and his Mar-A-Lago estate, which Trump boasted was worth $1.5 billion – Engoron cited a Palm Beach County assessor’s appraisal that put the property between $18 million and $27.6 million.
Trump’s comments are far from his first criticism of the case, one of the few cases he has denounced as a “witch hunt.” After Engoron’s decision last month, Trump called Engoron a “political hack judge,” claiming on Truth Social that “no one has been as troubled as this guy.” Trump also claimed last month, without evidence, that the federal Justice Department was behind the New York civil case, claiming “it all came from the DOJ.”
Trump also faced a gag order in his federal election interference case, barring him from making public statements against judicial staff and “any reasonably foreseeable witness,” as well as DOJ special counsel Jack Smith and members of his staff. Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a temporary stay on that gag order on Friday after Trump appealed the order.
A judicial officer in a civil fraud trial was arrested Wednesday for approaching Trump in the courtroom after she yelled at Trump, saying she hoped to help him, according to a spokesman for the New York State Office of Judicial Administration York Lucien Chalfen. The employee, whose name was not released, was charged with contempt of court and placed on administrative leave.
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Trump fined $5,000 for violating fraud order in fraud trial (Forbes)
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