Judge hits Donald Trump with limited gag order in New York real estate trial

WASHINGTON – A state judge hit Donald Trump with a limited gag order Tuesday for repeated attacks on court personnel during the first two days of a bank fraud damages trial.

“Personal attacks on my members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I will not tolerate them under any circumstances,” Judge Arthur F. Engoron said during the second day of testimony.

Earlier in the day on his Truth Social website, Trump posted a picture of a court clerk standing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., describing her as “Schumer’s girlfriend” and demanding that the case be dismissed.

The offending post was later removed. The trial went on.

Trump fails to dismiss the trial – and the debates

The gag order capped a day in which Trump and his allies pushed for the dismissal of his fraud trial and the cancellation of future Republican presidential debates – but failed to accomplish either goal.

Judge Engoron continued to hear evidence about suspicious valuations of Trump’s property, while GOP presidential campaigns blasted the former president for seeking to end debates that Trump doesn’t attend anyway.

“This case should be dismissed,” Trump told reporters before attending the second day of the civil trial that is expected to take months. “This is not a case.”

The trial’s second day

As Trump sat at the defense table for a second straight day, the trial went on anyway.

Engoron has already ruled that Trump committed bank fraud by inflating the value of his properties to secure massive loans. While some issues remain outstanding, most of the trial is devoted to determining punishment, with much of Trump’s business empire at risk.

During testimony from one of Trump’s former accountants, Engoron repeatedly overruled the Trump team’s continuous objections that the alleged offenses took place too long ago, beyond the state’s statute of limitations.

Trump, meanwhile, continued to attack anyone associated with the case, from Engoron to New York State Attorney General Letitia James and her aides – the kinds of attacks that led to the gag order.

Republican debates go on

In the meantime, the Republican National Committee moved forward with plans for another GOP debate on Nov. 8 in Miami, despite calls from the Trump campaign to shut down the system and unify behind the former president.

In a joint statement, Trump senior advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita said the RNC should “end all future debates in order to refocus its manpower and money” on defeating Democrats in 2024.

The RNC still plans to hold a debate Nov. 8 in Miami.

Other Republican candidates denounced Trump’s attempt to shut down the race, saying he is scared to debate because it would bring up all his problems, including his many legal issues.

“He’s a hypocrite and a coward who will do and say anything to advance his own interests and silence some of his critics by ducking and trying to cancel debates,” said former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the social media site X.

Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said “Trump knows he can’t defend his record, and he isn’t the fighter he was in 2016.”

Christie-Ramaswamy mini-debate is canceled

The RNC did take some debate action on Tuesday: It told Christie and business Vivek Ramaswamy they might be excluded from the Miami event if they went through with a joint appearance on Fox News.

So instead, Fox planned to conduct back-to-back interviews of Christie and Ramaswamy.

“Our Party needs more debates and in-depth discussions not less,” Christie said on the X website. “When the RNC stops conversations between candidates from happening that is real cause for concern.”

Ramaswamy, also on X, cited last week’s argumentative debate featuring seven GOP candidates, calling it a “disgrace” that did not help anybody. He said one-on-one debates would be more productive.

“The Establishment would rather cut backroom deals and offer up phony debates, including candidates with no viable path and questions that no voter would ever ask,” Ramaswamy said on the X website.

In a written statement, the RNC said candidates “all signed a pledge and agreed months ago to not participate in unsanctioned debates.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Judge hits Donald Trump with gag order in New York real estate trial

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