Judge Arthur Engoron, currently presiding over former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in Manhattan, recently expanded an existing gag order in the case, and according to Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY), the restrictions imposed are “unconstitutional and illegal,” as Breitbart reports.
As Reuters explains, Engoron placed a gag order on Trump in early October over social media posts referencing his principal law clerk, and that order was broadened on Friday and now bars attorneys for the parties from making public statements about the judge's exchanges with members of his staff, including the passing of notes between himself and the clerk, Allison Greenfield.
Stefanik lets loose
Reacting to the latest developments from Engoron's courtroom, Stefanik alleged that Trump and his lawyers are the victims of blatant political bias that should have no place in the justice system.
“It's unconstitutional and illegal to put a GAG order on President Trump and his legal team,” the lawmaker began.
Stefanik continued, “The Far Left Judge's clerk is a major Democrat donor and operative who has apparently donated more than the yearly limit for a New York Judge's staff member.”
“It is illegal and un-American for the Leftist Judge in NY to order that President Trump and his legal team can't raise issues about the Judge's biased law clerk -- especially when it is very obvious that she is playing an integral role in this case,” Stefanik went on.
Speaking to even broader concerns, the congresswoman added, “This is a dangerous pattern by Democrats across the country to try to muzzle any defendant -- let alone the leading Presidential candidate who is leading in all the polls against corrupt Joe Biden.”
“Republicans must join together to fight back against the unprecedented and illegal weaponization of Government against President Trump. I will do everything in my power as the Republican House Conference Chair to stop this madness,” she concluded.
Not just New York
Trump has also been subjected to a partial gag order in his federal election interference case overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan, one which stops the former president from making derogatory or threatening statements relating to Special Counsel Jack Smith, those who work for him, witnesses in the matter, or court staff, as Fox News notes.
Though Chutkan's order has temporarily been lifted by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals pending further proceedings, law professor Jonathan Turley has already opined that it is unconstitutional and should not be allowed to stand.
Underscoring the unprecedented nature of the imposition of such a gag order on someone who is a leading candidate for the presidency, Turley said that it was a “very odd concept of an order because the court here insisted on having this trial before the election -- sort of shoehorned it in before Super Tuesday – and everyone in this election's going to be talking about these cases except one person under this gag order and that is Donald Trump.”
Turley added that the court of appeals should be asked to analyze the purpose of the order, stating, “If you're silencing not only one of these leading candidates in the election where this is being debated but he can't even criticize his former opponent Michael Pence or the witnesses bringing evidence against him, that I think is pretty problematic....” Given her objections to Engoron's order, it seems likely that Stefanik -- and millions of other Americans -- would heartily agree.