By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York’s attorney general and a judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial have urged a mid-level appeals court to deny the former U.S. President’s request to appeal a decision reinstating a gag order in the case to the state’s top court.
The judge overseeing the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, on Oct. 3 barred Trump from speaking publicly about court staff after he shared on social media a photo of the judge’s law clerk posing with U.S. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and falsely called her Schumer’s “girlfriend.”
Engoron said the post left the court “inundated” with hundreds of threats made by supporters of Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024.
An appeals court judge temporarily paused the gag order on Nov. 16, but it was reinstated by the mid-level court, known as the Appellate Division, on Nov. 30. Trump last week asked the Appellate Division for permission to appeal that reinstatement to the Albany-based Court of Appeals.
In a Sunday court filing, Attorney General Letitia James’ office urged the Appellate Division to deny the request, arguing that the reinstatement of the gag order does not present a new legal question.
A lawyer representing Engoron argued the Court of Appeals does not normally hear cases involving temporary orders.
The civil fraud trial over the Trump family real estate company’s business practices, which began in October, is one of several legal challenges the former president faces as campaigning heats up.
The trial largely concerns damages, as Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his adult sons manipulated financial statements to dupe banks and insurers into providing better loan and insurance terms.
Trump has denied wrongdoing. He faces four unrelated federal and state criminal indictments, including two stemming from his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty in all of those cases.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)