Trump takes action against speech ban. These are the consequences of his attacks.

Donald Trump’s lawyers in the New York fraud trial have disputed the need to ban speech against the ex-president. However, the testimony of a court employee paints a completely different picture.

In the fraud trial against Donald Trump in New York, the former US President applied for the permanent lifting of his ban on speaking on Monday. Trump does not want to accept that Judge Arthur Engoron has banned him and his defense lawyers from commenting publicly on the proceedings. In mid-November, the 77-year-old had already achieved the temporary suspension of the so-called gag order. An appeals court had ruled that their legality needed to be reviewed by a larger panel of judges.

Engoron had muzzled Trump after the ex-president had violently insulted him and court employees on social media, among other things, and a flood of hate messages and harassment then poured over the court. In their motion on Monday, Trump’s lawyers argued that, contrary to Engoron’s decision, their client’s attacks were not threats and that the “disturbing behavior of anonymous third parties” could not be blamed on Trump.

Lawyers see Trump’s rights violated by gag order

The “broad, unconstitutional speech bans” violated the constitutional right of Trump and his lawyers to “demand basic fairness” and publicly point out the “very openly partisan behavior” that “infected and permeated the process,” the court document said . The gag order “shields Judge Engoron and his openly partisan clerk from the scrutiny essential to maintaining public confidence in the judiciary and ensuring a fair trial.”

Trump made similar accusations of partisanship and political bias in the social media posts that got him banned from speaking. In an October 3 post, Trump even published the name, photo and social media accounts of Engoron’s “corrupt” clerk and claimed, without any evidence, that she was the mistress of married Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The consequences of Trump’s public attacks on judicial staff became clear last Wednesday when Engoron’s team asked the appeals court to reinstate the gag order. “Every day, the judge and his staff are inundated with hundreds of harassing and threatening calls, voicemails and emails,” Charles Hollon, a court officer in the Department of Public Safety, wrote in the motion. These increased “exponentially” on and after Trump’s posting on October 3rd. The threats would be assessed as “serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative”.

“Trust me. Trust me when I say this. I will come. I don’t care. And no one will stop me,” Hollon quoted from one of the voicemails to the court in his affidavit.

“Resign your office, you dirty, treacherous piece of trash,” another voicemail said. “We will get you and all other dirty, treacherous, lying and cheating Americans. You are nothing more than a band of communists. We are coming to eliminate you for good.”

Hollon’s document included the transcripts of seven voice messages to Engoron’s office, most of which were heavily redacted for their vulgarity. But that was apparently only a very small part of the messages received. According to the affidavit, the threatening transcripts total more than 275 pages. A large part of the attacks are therefore directed against Engoron’s court clerk. They are confronted daily with “harassing, denigrating comments and anti-Semitic sayings”. According to her own statement, she receives “around 20 to 30 calls on her cell phone and around 30 to 50 messages every day.” Since the gag order was temporarily lifted, threats have increased again and around half of them are anti-Semitic.

The legal dispute over the speech ban for Trump and his lawyers is part of the civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the ex-president, whose sons Donald Jr. and Eric and employees of the Trump Organization. James accuses them of having manipulated the company’s assets over the years in order to get better conditions for loans and insurance. Judge Engoron had already confirmed this before the trial – the civil proceedings are therefore primarily about determining possible penalties. James is calling for a $250 million fine and a ban on Trump and his sons from running businesses in the state.

Sources: Courthouse News Service, Document Cloud, “Huffington Post”, CNN