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Trump’s civil fraud trial gag order is lifted on appeal (for now)

The limited restraint barred the former president from making statements about court staff after he targeted the judge’s law clerk.

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Donald Trump got his New York gag order lifted while he challenges it on appeal, meaning that, at least for now, he’s free from such restraints in both his civil fraud case and the federal election interference case in Washington.

The lifting by a New York state appellate judge on Thursday follows a similar move from the federal appeals court in D.C. that’s considering Trump’s gag order there. Oral arguments are set for Monday at the Washington appeals court, and the gag orders could wind up being reinstated in both cases after more litigation plays out.

It’s worth noting that the New York order imposed by Judge Arthur Engoron was more limited than the one in D.C. The New York order applies specifically to comments about court staff members, sparked by Trump’s social media posting about Engoron’s law clerk, whom Trump and his lawyers have contrived as a foil in the $250 million fraud case that threatens his business empire. Engoron has already fined Trump twice for violating the gag order, for a relatively meager $15,000 total, and he later extended the order to Trump’s lawyers. The pause applies to both Trump and his lawyers.

Again, this is a temporary measure, so we don’t know how this will conclude on appeal. But it would be surprising if it turns out that judges can’t exercise some narrow measure of control out of concern for their staffs’ safety.

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