By Naveen Athrappully
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) filed a judicial complaint against the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud case, accusing him of issuing an “illegal” gag order against a candidate running in the presidential elections.
On Tuesday, the State of New York Court of Appeals dismissed President Trump’s appeal against a gag order related to his civil fraud trial in New York. The order was initially imposed by Justice Arthur Engoron on Oct. 3 after the former president accused a top clerk with the judge of being politically biased. The order prohibits the former president from making public statements about the judge’s staff. On Friday, Ms. Stefanik filed a judicial complaint against Judge Engoron with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
She challenged the New York Court of Appeals’ dismissal of President Trump’s appeal against the gag order. “The Court dodged addressing a crucial issue, which has ramifications for all New Yorkers. Simply stated, it is unacceptable that any judge in America would place an unconstitutional gag order on a defendant,” the complaint said.
“If there is anyone who must have the constitutional right to speak out against the judge, court staff, prosecutor, and process, it is a defendant going through a process he believes has been politicized and weaponized against him,” it said.
Ms. Stefanik called Judge Engoron’s order “election interference” and said that “Illegally gagging a presidential candidate … is shocking and appalling.” She warned that the decision “undermines the public’s faith and confidence in our New York courts.”
“Judge Engoron’s political show trial is coming to a close, and I urge your office to stop this grotesque miscarriage of justice,” she requested.
The Republican Representative had earlier filed two complaints against Judge Engoron. On Nov. 10, she submitted a judicial complaint accusing the judge of “inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance” against President Trump in the case.
On Nov. 17, a second complaint detailed “illegal political donations and other illegal, biased misconduct” by the judge and his staff.
The civil fraud case that led to Ms. Stefanik’s complaint was brought against President Trump by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The lawsuit alleged that President Trump engaged in persistent fraud through the financial statements of the Trump Organization that were published between 2011 and 2021.
The trial began on Oct. 2 and on the second day, President Trump published a post at Truth Social about Allison Greenfield, the principal clerk of Judge Engoron. The post included an image of Ms. Greenfield posing with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) during a political event, with the former president calling her a Democrat loyalist.
“Schumer’s girlfriend, Allison R. Greenfield, is running this case against me. How Disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately,” President Trump wrote in the post on Oct. 3. After Judge Engoron came to know about the matter, he issued a gag order the same day and the former president deleted the post.
Judge Engoron also imposed a $10,000 fine on President Trump. Before imposing the fine, the judge asked the former president whether accusations of a “partisan” person sitting “alongside” him referred to Ms. Greenfield.
While President Trump claimed that he was referring to Michael Cohen, a key witness against him in the case, the judge dismissed the statement as “not credible” and went ahead with the fines.
A $5,000 fine was also imposed after one of President Trump’s campaign websites was found to contain an archived page of the post. Judge Engoron eventually applied the gag order on President Trump’s attorneys as well.
President Trump’s defense attorneys argued it was unusual that a law clerk presides on the bench in a lawsuit alongside the judge, and to also confer with the judge throughout the case.
Attorneys claimed that Ms. Greenfield was providing her inputs to Judge Engoron before he made certain decisions and that she exhibited bias during the defense’s questioning.
The recent complaint from Ms. Stefanik was filed a day before she joined President Trump at his rally in Concord, New Hampshire, on Saturday evening.
“Voters of the ‘Live Free or Die’ state will make their voices loud and clear on Tuesday. It’s time to unite behind President Donald Trump and #SaveAmerica!” she said in a Jan. 20 X post. Ms. Stefanik is rumored to be under consideration to be President Trump’s running mate in the 2024 elections.
The New Hampshire primary is scheduled for Tuesday and will be the United States’ first primary of this race.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center (SACSC) at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP), President Trump has the backing of 52 percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is trailing with 38 percent support and is only the main challenger for the former president. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received the support of just 6 percent of likely voters.
In a Jan. 21 Truth Social post, President Trump encouraged his supporters to back him in the New Hampshire primary.
“3 days from now, we are going to win New Hampshire—and then we are going to defeat Crooked Joe Biden, and we are going to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! The primary is THIS TUESDAY, January 23rd—so you need to get every Patriot you know, and turn them out to vote in record numbers,” he said.