Donald Trump’s lawyers make “very misleading” arguments: Legal analyst

Former U.S. attorney and legal analyst Barbara McQuade said Sunday that lawyers for Donald Trump make “very misleading” arguments over the former president’s repeated attacks against judges and court staff.

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, faces various legal troubles with trials at both the state and federal level, with a total of 91 felony charges in four separate criminal cases. Trump, meanwhile, has maintained his innocence in the cases. The former president has also been civilly sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James for $250 million. In her lawsuit, James alleges that Trump, his adult sons, and top executives at The Trump Organization, conspired to increase his net worth by billions of dollars on financial statements provided to banks and insurers to make deals and secure loans. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has called the trial politically motivated.

Still, Trump has continued to make repeated attacks on judges and court staff, often taking to Truth Social, his social media platform, to voice his stance, which has caused him to be issued gag orders.

On Monday, a New York appeals court is expected to review whether to reinstate a gag order imposed on Trump by Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing his civil fraud trial, that was temporarily lifted last week by an appellate judge who raised free speech concerns.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump is seen on November 18 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Former U.S. attorney and legal analyst Barbara McQuade said Sunday that lawyers for Trump make “very misleading” arguments over the former president’s repeated attacks against judges and court staff.
Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

In an interview with MSNBC host Katie Phang on Sunday, McQuade spoke about Trump’s repeated attacks, adding that the former president’s lawyers’ arguments over the gag orders have looked at cases outside of the context of court, a move she describes is “very misleading. “

“One of the things that the [Trump] lawyers have done, that is very misleading here, is to look at cases outside of the context of court, of opinion criminal cases. You know, prior restraints are frowned upon of course. Anything that limits core political speech is antithetical to the First Amendment,” McQuade said.

She added that those outside cases that Trump’s lawyers refer to in their arguments are different, stating that we are in the world of a trial and “those rules are different.”

“That’s not the world that we are in. We are in the world of a trial. And so inside a trial to protect the parties, to protect court staff and to protect the fair administration of justice, those rules are different. And so I hope that the court sees the light and understand the very threat on the one hand versus the restriction on the other,” she said.

Although it is not clear which outside cases McQuade is referring to, Trump and his lawyers have continued to argue that any gag order against a presidential candidate is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump and his lawyers via email for comment.

This follows the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) court filing on Thanksgiving, arguing that a gag order against the former president must remain while pointing to documents filed as part of the civil fraud trial in New York.

The government’s court filings pointed the appeals court to one section in particular, in which an employee at the New York State Unified Court System details the “hundreds of threatening and harassing voicemail messages” which had been sent to Engoron as well as his law clerk Allison Greenfield. Engoron fined Trump twice in October for violating his gag order after he failed to remove a Truth Social post targeting Greenfield more than two weeks after the judge ordered it be deleted, and then a second time after the former president described Greenfield as a “very partisan” individual to reporters outside the courtroom.

McQuade is the latest in a growing list of those who have noted Trump’s repeated attacks and have called for the court to take a more serious approach.

On Saturday, former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Glenn Kirschner appeared on MSNBC and said the judges in Trump’s different cases have a responsibility to pay attention to the ongoing “witness threatening conduct” Trump incites.

“I think it would be irresponsible for one jurisdiction to decline to pay attention to the potentially witness threatening conduct by the same pretrial defendant in another jurisdiction and we have seen some cross pollination between and among the judges. I can only wonder if at some point Donald Trump’s luck will run out and the judges will say enough, we are going to impose these gag orders, we are going to keep them in place,” Kirschner, a staunch Trump critic, said.