This backlash was fully anticipated after yesterday’s bombshell that the gag order imposed in the New York Trump Organization fraud trial had been lifted. Trump and his lawyers began crowing about their victory and doubled down on both Judge Arthur Engoron and his court clerk, whom they accuse of nefarious conduct for communicating via written note to the judge while he’s on the bench.
The matter will be decided by a panel of judges on November 27. The big issue here is public safety and particularly the safety of the officers and staff of the courts with which Donald Trump is involved, from MAGA extremists. MAGAs listen without analysis or reason to Trump’s tirades about the “enemy of the state” and “biased judges.” January 6 showed us conclusively that MAGAs will act on their cult leader’s order without hesitation. And as one of the election clerks in Georgia worried, back when the votes were being recounted for the third time, “somebody’s going to get killed.” This appellate judge may have unwittingly set the stage for something like that and that’s the argument of Barbara McQuade, here, that the judge is naive.
I actually think that the issue here is clear. If Trump wants to revile his political opponents, fine. Go ahead. He is running for president. But that’s not the issue. The issue is him using that same level of vitriol and contempt and directing it against judges, prosecutors and court staff. That’s something entirely different.
In a perfect world, a narrowly tailored, iron clad gag order will come out. And it will be carved in stone. Simply, Trump should not have the right to even mention the names Jack Smith, Tanya Chutkan, Fani Willis, anybody in that general class of people unless he has a neutral, factual comment to make. And what are the odds of that? But beyond a simple statement, any opinion, criticism, derogatory descriptor, all of that, should be absolutely and unambiguously barred.
And failing Trump’s compliance with said iron clad order, he should be remanded to the custody of the authorities — as anybody else behaving the way he has would have already been.
This is admittedly my wish list for the November 27 hearing. Let’s see what actually happens.