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New York appeals court temporarily lifts Trump gag order in civil fraud trial

An appellate judge in New York has temporarily lifted a gag order on former President Donald Trump and his attorney in his ongoing civil fraud trial.

"Considering the constitutional and statutory rights at issue an interim stay is granted," wrote Associate Justice David Friedman, of New York state's intermediate appeals court.

He issued the stay in response to a request filed by Trump's legal team earlier this week that argued the gag order violated his First-Amendment — as well as the state's — freedom-of-speech rights.

The gag order on the former president was imposed by Judge Arthur Engoron after a derogatory post appeared on Trump's Truth Social platform. He has fined Trump twice since then for violations, most recently for $10,000 after he made a remark outside the courtroom that Engoron concluded was made in reference to the judge's principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield.

Friedman's order also grants temporary relief to Trump's attorneys, who have also been prohibited by Judge Engoron from discussing his communications with his staff. 

Trump posted about the ruling on his social media site Thursday, once again targeting Engoron and Greenfield.

"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," Trump wrote.

In a written order, Engoron wrote that Trump's attorneys have made "repeated, inappropriate remarks about my Principal Law Clerk, falsely accusing her of bias against them and of improperly influencing" the trial.

"Defendants' attorneys have made long speeches alleging that it is improper for a judge to consult with a law clerk during ongoing proceedings, and that the passing of notes from a judge to a law clerk, or vice-versa, constitutes an improper 'appearance of impropriety' in this case," he wrote. "These arguments have no basis."

On Wednesday, attorneys for Trump requested a mistrial be declared in the case, claiming the judge and his clerk have subjected the defendants to "tangible and overwhelming" bias and unfair treatment.

The motion for a mistrial makes good on a promise Trump's attorneys made to file it the day he testified in the case on Nov. 6. The announcement capped off an intense day of examination in which Trump — who has frequently criticized Engoron and Greenfield — even lashed out at the judge on the witness stand, pointing at him and calling him a "fraud."

Engoron is overseeing the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump, his two oldest sons, the Trump Organization and several executives in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. James' office alleges the defendants orchestrated a decade-long fraud scheme to inflate the value of the company's properties and Trump's personal wealth. Engoron has already found the Trumps and their company liable for business fraud.

The trial, which is related to other allegations in the suit, is currently in its seventh week. All defendants have denied wrongdoing. 

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