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Former President Donald Trump

POLITICS: New York judge lifts Trump gag order in civil fraud trial over free speech concerns

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A New York judge has lifted the gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump in his civil fraud trial stemming from state Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against him and the Trump Organization.

Citing concerns over free speech, appeals court Judge David Friedman issued a stay on the order Thursday, which was put in place by Judge Arthur Engoran in October.

Engoron, who is overseeing Trump’s trial, imposed the partial gag order to block all parties from making derogatory statements about his court staff. He fined Trump $5,000 for violating the order on social media on Oct. 20, and did so again on Oct. 25 for another $10,000 before threatening imprisonment if further violations were committed.

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Former President Donald Trump leaves the courtroom for a lunch break during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 06, 2023, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

At Thursday’s emergency hearing, Friedman questioned Engoron’s authority to limit Trump’s speech outside the courtroom, and argued gag orders were used more in criminal trials where there is a fear of swaying a jury. The ruling also applies to Trump’s lawyers, who say they have no plans to inhibit the former president’s First Amendment rights.

Trump celebrated the ruling in a post on Truth Social, in which he railed against Engoran.

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“Judge Arthur Engoron has just been overturned (stayed!) by the New York State Appellate Division (Appeals Court), for the 4th TIME (on the same case!). His Ridiculous and Unconstitutional Gag Order, not allowing me to defend myself against him and his politically biased and out of control, Trump Hating Clerk, who is sinking him and his Court to new levels of LOW, is a disgrace,” he wrote.

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New York Judge Arthur Engoran

Justice Arthur Engoron presides over the civil fraud trial of the Trump Organization at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City on November 13, 2023. (ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“They are defending the Worst and Least Respected Attorney General in the United States, Letitia James, who is a Worldwide disgrace, as is her illegal Witch Hunt against me. The Radical and Unprecedented actions of Judge Engoron will keep BUSINESSES and JOBS forever out of New York State,” he said.

Trump reiterated that he did “nothing wrong,” and again accused James of having run on a “Get Trump” platform during her campaign.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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