On Friday, the judge presiding over Donald Trump’s ongoing civil fraud trial and the former president’s attorneys argued for about 30 minutes about the judge’s chief law clerk, who has been a target of Trump’s legal team from the beginning of the trial.
Trump has regularly complained about the clerk, Allison Greenfield, stating without evidence that she is biassed against him. He was issued a gag order prohibiting him from discussing the judge’s staff because of a social media post picturing her early in the trial; the former president’s comments about Greenfield this week resulted in the second of two fines for violating the order.
Recently, however, Trump’s attorneys have ramped up their own complaints about Greenfield, who shares the bench with Justice Arthur Engoron. One lawyer, Alina Habba, complained last week about Greenfield’s “eye rolls and constant whispering.” On Thursday, the court suggested that Chris Kise, another Trump attorney, may have been misogynistic for making a fleeting reference to Greenfield. The judge’s response was to threaten to extend his gag order even further.
Kise, at the outset of Friday’s court sessions, continued to focus on Greenfield, saying she has displayed “demonstrable bias or at least the appearance of that,” referencing a news report he later revealed was from the right-wing web publication Breitbart, to audible moans from the crowd.
In it, a man named Brock Fredin from Wisconsin is quoted as saying that Greenfield made “excessive political donations.” Fredin appears to be the sole source for the item. The story states that Fredin complained to Engoron and the New York State Bar Association and made his complaint public.
To Kise’s description of the claims, Engoron responded that it was “absolutely untrue” that he had received such a complaint. I’ll let everyone in here decide for themselves what they think of Breitbart,” the judge said.
Kise, like he has done on previous days, criticised Greenfield for what he saw as her undue influence on Engoron’s judgements by handing notes to him during proceedings. As a direct response to Kise’s criticism, Engoron proclaimed, “I have an unfettered, absolute right to consult with my law clerks” and warned Kise that he would not allow any such remarks about his employees.
Kise, however, persisted in his insistence that he must record his objections for use in a potential appeal. A record must be made “contemporaneously” if “notes are being passed at certain specific times or they are being passed in a way that might indicate some bias,” he said.
On Friday, Engoron said he will review the situation and make a decision.
To which I said, “It’s a shame we’ve descended to this level,” which he echoed. He responded to Kise’s earlier comment that the entire world will be watching the trial by saying, “I totally agree, the world is watching.”