Tuesday was the second day of Donald Trump’s fraud trial in Manhattan, and while the courtroom antics largely lacked the high-temperature flare-ups of the opening day, that doesn’t mean Trump can go a full day without trying to cause someone misery. This time, Trump directed his ire not at the judge or prosecutor, but at the court clerk. And his actions are a perfect example of why Trump deserves to be saddled with a gag order.
On his social media platform, Trump wrote that the clerk, Allison Greenfield, is “Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend” and that she is “running this case against me.” And then, to make it easier for his MAGA minions to find and harass Greenfield, Trump included a link to her Instagram page, which includes more information on her life as well as a profile photo.
Trump has now deleted the Truth Social post, but not before it was also sent out to millions of email contacts as part of a fundraising blast that repeated the claims. All of which generated exactly the kind of feedback against Greenfield that might be expected.
Trump’s post linked to a Twitter account called “Judicial Protest” that shows a picture of Greenfield standing next to Schumer. In social media, that image has been mingled with stories that lingered after a satirical rumor with no factual basis was started about Schumer in 2017. The Judicial Protest account also had several more posts about Greenfield, painting her as a radical Democratic operative, as well as dozens of posts calling Judge Arthur Engoron a “hobo” and a “drunk.” Don’t be surprised if those make their way into Trump’s future posts.
There does not appear to be any indication of an actual relationship between the Senate majority leader, who has been married since 1980, and Greenfield. Describing Greenfield as Schumer’s girlfriend—which is something even the account Trump linked to did not claim—is not only disgraceful, misleading, and without any basis in reality, it puts Greenfield at real risk from Trump’s army of extremist supporters.
And Trump’s post succeeded at generating vile reactions.
In addition, Trump is elevating the clerk into the person “running the case,” making it seem as if Greenfield is not just part of but also a key player in some grand conspiracy. Emerging from the trial on Tuesday, Trump repeated these claims.
All of this places Greenfield under immediate, serious, and lasting threat. Trump knows this. That's why he’s doing it. He has used his followers as a weapon that he can direct at judges, prosecutors, and political opponents.
Now he’s using his power over his base to attack a woman who has nothing to do with either prosecuting the case or determining its outcome. It furthers his narrative that he’s the victim of a Democratic conspiracy. Because feeding his followers fresh fuel for anger turns into fundraising dollars for Trump. And because he can.
Special counsel Jack Smith previously sought a limited gag order against Trump from federal district court Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington because Trump “has an established practice of issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him.”
Smith’s office pressed this request again last week after Trump continued his pattern of incendiary remarks aimed at both Justice Department officials and potential witnesses. These included attacks Trump made on right-wing media against his own former attorney general and against retiring Gen. Mark Milley.
The attack on Greenfield shows again just how willing and eager Trump is to cause real pain and danger to anyone, even someone who just happens to be sitting across the courtroom, if he feels there is any possibility of personal gain. And it’s a big reminder that Chutkan should have moved to limit Trump’s access weeks ago. A hearing on the partial gag order request is now scheduled for Oct 16.
But in response to the attack on Greenfield, Judge Engoron moved more quickly. Speaking to Trump and everyone else in the room, Engoron said, “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I won't tolerate it in my courtroom.”
However, though Engoron indicated that everyone present should “consider this a gag order,” it’s only a limited gag order (at best), it’s not aimed specifically at Trump, and it’s not enough.