There was drama again at former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York as the judge unloaded on a defense lawyer for “a bit of misogyny” against a law clerk.
Judge Arthur Engoron warned Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise not to refer to his principal law clerk Allison Greenfield as a “female principal law clerk,” during a tense exchange on Thursday.
During a day that included testimony by the former president’s son, Eric Trump, Kise reportedly made a comment about the law clerk “co-judging” the trial as she was seen passing notes to the Manhattan Supreme Court justice.
The angry Engoron addressed what he saw as an insult.
“I sometimes think there might be a bit of misogyny when you keep referring to my ‘female principal law clerk,’” he told Kise, according to Business Insider.
“All joking aside, do not refer to my staff again,” the judge told him. “The person sitting alongside me is a civil servant, doing what I ask her to do.”
Yesterday, Trump lawyer Chris Kise provoked Judge Engoron’s ire with a side comment about his principal law clerk. What exactly did he say? “I’ll wait again to get the note that you have from Ms. Greenfield. You may have a question for me. Maybe it is about dinner.”
— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) November 3, 2023
Engoron reportedly threatened to extend the gag order placed on the former president to then include his legal team if comments about his staff did not cease. Trump was slapped with a fine by the judge for violating the gag order as the former president had posted comments about Greenfield on his Truth Social platform.
“If you keep referring to my principal law clerk, I will consider expanding the gag order to include you and your attorneys,” the judge said.
“Frequently, I feel like I am fighting two adversaries,” Kise reportedly replied, in a reference to Greenfield and the state attorney’s office. “It’s a fair comment as a lawyer.”
He went on to refer to one of the assistant attorneys general, Andrew Amer, saying, “I’m sitting here, and I have to respond to Mr. Amer and their arguments.”
“But there is someone else sending you information on a different basis,” Kise said, referring to Greenfield and that he had seen her pass 30 notes to Engoron on the previous day. “All I’m trying to say is that gives off the appearance of impropriety.”
Kise also pushed back on the judge’s disparagement, saying “I’m not a misogynist,” and adding, “I have a 17-year-old daughter.”
Trump’s other lawyer, Alina Habba, concurred.
“I have issues with the person who is also sitting on the bench,” she said, according to Insider. “I do feel, like Mr. Kise, that your position is often what you’re given in notes.”
The rest of the afternoon saw Eric Trump answer questions in New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil suit against the Trump family and businesses. But as things wrapped up, Engoron came back to a point of contention for him.
“Mr. Kise and the rest of your team,” he said, according to Insider. “I have an absolute right, an absolute unfettered right, to get advice from my principal law clerk.”
“There is no First Amendment value that I can see to referring to her, particularly when making things up — and that’s not you,” he told Kise. “That’s somebody else.”
“I’m pounding the table,” he added. “I have an absolute right to have communications with my clerk.”
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