Donald Trump’s Team Suffers ‘Clueless’ Moment in Court

Donald Trump


Donald Trump’s legal team’s failure to appeal his reinstated gag order this week is reminiscent of a scene from 1990s film Clueless, a legal analyst has said.

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Lisa Rubin, a legal analyst on MSNBC, reacted after a New York appellate court told the former president’s lawyers that they had missed a deadline to challenge a gag order in Trump’s civil fraud case in a higher court this week. They will have the opportunity to appeal again next week.

The Republican faces a $250 million civil fraud trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James in which he and members of the Trump Organization are accused of inflating his net worth to obtain more favorable business deals. Trump denies wrongdoing.

Last month, a state appellate court judge temporarily froze two gag orders that the judge presiding over the case, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, imposed on Trump in October, banning him from publicly talking about court staff, pending an appeal from Trump’s lawyers. But two weeks later, the orders were reinstated.

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a commit to caucus campaign event at the Whiskey River bar on December 02, 2023 in Ankeny, Iowa. A move to appeal the Republican’s reinstated gag order has failed.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Trump lawyers then sought permission from the appellate court for a single judge to ask the Court of Appeals to pause the gag order but in an informal session on Monday they were told a full panel must decide the issue and that they had missed a Monday morning filing deadline to potentially have a full panel consider the request this week.

Newsweek contacted representatives for Trump by email to comment on this story.

Responding on X, Rubin said the affair reminded her of a scene in the 1995 film Clueless, in which Cher Horowitz fails her driving examination after a disastrous test in which she damages private property, but asks the DMV tester if she can appeal the decision to someone else.

She wrote: “A reflection on a weird afternoon in a New York appeals court: Does anyone remember how, in Clueless, Alicia Silverstone’s character fails her driver’s license test miserably, but asks whether there is someone above him with whom she can speak?”

She added that when the lawyers were told there was nothing they could do “they were visibly frustrated a la Clueless. ‘Surely, you are not the last word on this’, they seemed to suggest to the court attorney.”

“But the thrust of what the court attorney told the parties from the counter of the clerk’s office remained true: Without the consent of the AG’s office and given their own delay, there was no getting a hearing earlier than next Monday. As Cher might say, ‘Oops. Their bad,'” Rubin continued.

The gag order on Trump was imposed after Engoron said the GOP frontrunner’s activity on social media was leading his staff to receive threats and harassing messages.

Trump shared a post of the judge’s principal law clerk Allison Greenfield posing with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and falsely claimed that she was Schumer’s girlfriend,

Despite the order, Trump continued to post about the trial and attacked Greenfield on social media. Trump also called her “very partisan,” to reporters outside the New York courtroom, and has been fined a total of $15,000 for twice violating the terms of the order.

However, his lawyers have argued the order violates his right to free speech.

“Without expedited review, [Trump and the defense team] will continue to suffer irreparable injury daily, as they are silenced on matters implicating the appearance of bias and impropriety on the bench during a trial of immense stakes,” Trump attorney Clifford Robert argued in a court filing Monday, according to the Washington Post.

In September, Engoron issued a partial summary judgment in the civil fraud trial, stating that the defendants committed fraud. The rest of the trial will determine how much the Republican will pay in damages, as well as rule on six other accusations—including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy claims.

Trump is scheduled to testify for the defense on Monday as the final witness.