Former President Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial became heated late Thursday afternoon when Judge Arthur Engoron angrily pounded the table and chastised attorneys for the Trumps, accusing them of disparaging his principal law clerk.
The female clerk has been sitting alongside Engoron throughout the five-week trial to provide advice when asked. Last month, after Donald Trump criticized her on social media, Engoron imposed a gag order on the defendants that bars them from making public comments about any member of the judge’s staff.
When attorney Chris Kise mentioned the clerk Thursday, Engoron told him off.
“Do not refer to my staff again,” he said, according to The Messenger.
“Sometimes I think there’s a bit of misogyny in you referring to my female principal law clerk,” the judge reportedly added.
Kise protested, saying he was “not a misogynist” and pointing to the fact he has a teen daughter and a wife, The New York Times reported.
Eric Trump, second from left, appears at New York courthouse alongside attorneys Alina Habba, far left, and Chris Kise, far right.
Alina Habba, another Trump attorney, then jumped in with her own criticism of the law clerk, with Habba arguing that she cannot be misogynist because she is a woman herself, per the Times.
The Trump attorneys suggested that the clerk might be improperly influencing the judge with notes she passed to him during proceedings. Kise seemed to imply that her political leanings may disfavor his clients.
Engoron became so upset at one point that he slammed the table.
“I have an absolute unfettered right to get advice from my principal law clerk!” he reportedly said, arguing that she is a civil servant and should be left alone.
NBC News described Eric Trump, who had been giving testimony, as “uncomfortable-looking” during the exchange. The court recessed soon afterward, with Eric Trump’s testimony expected to resume Friday.
Donald Trump has been accused of violating the gag order twice so far, prompting $15,000 in fines, and Engoron has threatened to expand the order if it continues to go unheeded.