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Ex-president in court after judge issues gag order

Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in the courtroom with his lawyers for his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 03, 2023 in New York City.

Seth Wenig | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday returned to court for the third day of his $250 million business fraud trial, after his conduct a day earlier spurred a judge to issue a gag order.

On Tuesday, Trump’s account on his Truth Social site posted disparaging comments about Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron‘s principal law clerk.

That post included the clerk’s full name alongside a photo of her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Trump, who often claims that all of the civil and criminal lawsuits against him are politically motivated, accused the clerk of being “Schumer’s girlfriend” and “running this case against me.”

The former president referenced the clerk and Schumer again in remarks to reporters outside the courtroom where the trial is taking place. Trump was seated almost directly across from the clerk in that room.

Engoron called the attack on his staff unacceptable.

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He ordered Trump to delete the social media post, and then barred Trump and others in the case from targeting his aides.

“Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff,”¬†Engoron said.

Trump on Tuesday also launched attacks against Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James, accusing them both of being politically biased.

The trial is being conducted without a jury, meaning Engoron alone will deliver verdicts.

In a social media post after the gag order, Trump complained about the statute used in the case and claimed he is “not even entitled to a JURY.”

Trump attorney Alina Habba also claimed Tuesday that “there was never an option to choose a jury trial” under the statute used in James’ lawsuit.

But the attorney general’s office and legal experts have told CNBC that the defendants could have requested a jury trial.

James’ lawsuit accuses Trump, his two adult sons, the Trump Organization and its top officials of falsely overvaluing real estate properties and other assets in financial statements in order to obtain better loan terms and tax perks.

The judge previously found that Trump and the other defendants were liable for fraud. He canceled their New York business certificates and ordered that the entities related to those certificates must be dissolved.

In addition to seeking $250 million in damages, James wants the court to permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump from serving as officers of any New York business.

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.

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