A previous version of this story misidentified U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan as Amy Chutkan.
The judge in Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud trial delivered a moment on Tuesday that Trump had spent months, if not years, courting: a gag order limiting his ability to attack those deciding his legal fate.
Judge Arthur Engoron barred Trump from making public comments about members of Engoron’s staff. The ruling came after Trump made a baseless claim about an Engoron staffer’s romantic connections. The ruling wasn’t explicitly aimed at Trump and will apply to all parties, but Engoron made clear this was about a comment Trump posted that day on social media. Engoron said he ordered the post deleted, and Trump’s post was removed from his Truth Social page.
The substance of the post was altogether familiar; it wasn’t the first time Trump had circulated a baseless rumor about the love life of a key figure in his legal proceedings. Two months ago, it was about how Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis (D) purportedly had “an affair” with a “gang member.” (The article supposedly substantiating that claim did not say anything of the sort.)
Indeed, Trump’s attacks on judges, prosecutors, their staffs and potential witnesses against him — which have long tempted judges to issue such gag orders and are also the subject of a looming decision in another case — follow a familiar formula. The substance and even the words tend to be virtually the same, they’re generally baseless, and they’re often ugly.
Trump has now attacked more than a dozen key figures in the cases against him, which include four criminal indictments, the New York civil fraud trial and two matters involving the alleged sexual assault and defamation of writer E. Jean Carroll.
Here’s a rundown.
Three of the prosecutors bringing cases against Trump are Black, and Trump often accuses them of racism against him.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D): “The Racist Manhattan District Attorney” (March on Truth Social)
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D): “Another witch hunt by a racist attorney general” (September 2022 on Truth Social)
Willis: “They’ve got a local racist democrat district attorney in Atlanta …” (April speech at Mar-a-Lago)
Willis: “They say there’s a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta, so racist …” (August speech in Windham, N.H.)
Trump has cited, without evidence, the idea that key figures in his legal cases were romantically tied to allegedly nefarious figures or his political opponents.
An aide to Engoron: “[Sen. Charles] Schumer’s girlfriend … is running this case against me.” (This is baseless.) (Tuesday on Truth Social)
Willis: “She ended up having an affair with the head of the gang or a gang member.” (This is also baseless.) (August speech in Windham, N.H.)
Trump is often not content to attack people individually; he also invokes their friends and relatives in support of his claims that they are biased against him.
Bragg: “TRUMP HATING WIFE AND FRIENDS” (April on Truth Social)
Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, presiding over Trump’s federal election-fraud case: “Oh, I’m sure she will be very fair” (while citing an article claiming Chutkan’s grandfather was a Marxist). (September on Truth Social)
Justice Juan Merchan, presiding over Trump’s New York hush money case: “I have a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign.” (April speech at Mar-a-Lago)
Special counsel Jack Smith: A “Trump Hater, as are all his friends and family.” (June on Truth Social)
Smith: “He’s a raging and uncontrolled Trump-hater, as is his wife.” (June speech in Bedminster, N.J.)
Willis: “A family steeped in hate” (citing her father being a Black Panther). (August campaign email)
Trump often uses these labels against his political opponents, and he’s invoked them repeatedly against judges and prosecutors.
Chutkan: See above.
Engoron: A “vicious, biased, and mean ‘rubber stamp’ for the Communist takeover of the great & prosperous American company that I have built over a long period of years.” (October 2022 on Truth Social)
Smith: “Deranged Jack Smith has added a War Crimes Prosecutor from the Hague to his team … These Marxists and Fascists are killing our Country, and we’re not going to let them get away with it.” (September on Truth Social)
Willis: “Right here in Georgia, you have a lunatic and Marxist district attorney of Atlanta …” (June speech in Georgia)
Multiple figures: “Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxist, communists and fascists indict me, I consider it a great badge of courage.” (June speech in D.C.)
Perhaps Trump’s most controversial attacks involve describing Black prosecutors using language that critics regard as coded and racist.
Bragg: “Soros backed animal” (March on Truth Social)
Willis: “rabid partisan” (August on Truth Social)
James: “this ‘Monster’” (Tuesday on Truth Social)
Trump has long described any scrutiny of him as a witch hunt, and these figures from his court cases are not exempt from that charge.
Chutkan: “She obviously wants me behind bars. VERY BIASED & UNFAIR!” “highly partisan” (August on Truth Social)
Engoron: “Judge Arthur Engoron Is A Far-Left Democrat Who Said Trump Should Be Prosecuted Because ‘He’s Just A Bad Guy.’” (Engoron, when uttering those words, wasn’t referencing his own views.) (Campaign news release on Tuesday)
James: “Politically motivated witch hunt.” (September on Truth Social)
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in the Carroll cases: “This Clinton appointed Judge, Lewis Kaplan, hated President Donald J. Trump more than is humanly possible.” (May on Truth Social)
Merchan: “The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME.” (March on Truth Social)
Willis: Out to “get Trump.” (August on Truth Social)
This is another Trump go-to from when he was facing impeachment.
Bragg: “Prosecutorial Misconduct and Interference with an Election” (March on Truth Social)
Chutkan: She “admitted she’s running election interference against Trump.” (She did not.) (August on Truth Social)
Engoron: “He’s interfering with an election, and it’s a disgrace.” (Speaking to media outside courtroom on Monday)
James: “What we have here is an attempt to hurt me in an election.” “This has to do with election interference, plain and simple.” (Speaking to media outside courtroom on Monday)
Trump has used some form of this charge against every prosecutor in his criminal indictments and civil fraud trial.
Bragg: “degenerate psychopath” (March on Truth Social)
James: “crazy, radical, leftist nutjob” (September 2022 speech in North Carolina)
James: “Trump Deranged Lunatic” (Tuesday on Truth Social)
Smith: “deranged” (numerous times)
Smith: “a Radical Right Lunatic” (June on Truth Social)
Smith: “psycho” (June on Truth Social)
Willis: See above.
Attempting to muddy the waters, Trump will say that those who have accused him of crimes have instead committed crimes themselves.
Bragg: “The criminal is the district attorney, because he illegally leaked massive amounts of grand jury information, for which he should be prosecuted.” (Trump did not provide evidence of this.) (April speech at Mar-a-Lago)
James: “Likewise, Letitia James should resign for purposeful and criminal Election Interference.” (Monday on Truth Social)
Smith: He “probably ‘planted’ information in the ‘boxes’ given to them.” (There is no evidence of this.) (June on Truth Social)
Trump has commented on each of the individuals below as they emerged as key potential witnesses against him.
Former attorney general William P. Barr: “Why does FoxNews constantly put on slow thinking and lethargic Bill Barr, who didn’t have the courage or stamina to fight the Radical Left lunatics while he was A.G., and who, even more importantly, refused to fight Election Fraud.” (August on Truth Social)
Former Georgia lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan (R): “He shouldn’t [testify]. I barely know him but he was, right from the beginning of this Witch Hunt, a nasty disaster for those looking into the Election Fraud that took place in Georgia.” (August on Truth Social)
Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley: “This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! … treasonous act.” (Former Trump chief of staff John Kelly recently suggested this was akin to an attempt to incite violence against Milley.) (September on Truth Social)
Former vice president Mike Pence: He would “make up stories about me, which are absolutely false.” “He’s delusional, and now he wants to show he’s a tough guy.” (August and September on Truth Social)
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R): Falsely claimed Raffensperger told Trump that Trump “didn’t do anything wrong.” (September on NBC’s “Meet the Press”)
Multiple people: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” (August on Truth Social)