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Updated Jan 11, 2024, 1:26pm EST
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Semafor Signals

Another Trump judge is the target of a swatting incident

Insights from New York Magazine, MSNBC, and The American Prospect

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REUTERS/Mike Segar
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The News

Police responded to a threat at the house of the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud case on Thursday, in what appeared to be the latest swatting incident targeting judges involved in Trump’s cases.

Nassau County police told Semafor that there was a “swatting incident,” but would not confirm if it happened at Judge Arthur Engoron’s home and did not clarify if was a false report of a bomb threat. Sources told the New York Times that a bomb squad had been sent to the house.

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Engoron is hearing closing arguments in the civil case later on Thursday.

Trump had been placed under a gag order after prosecutors successfully argued that the former president’s rhetoric against court staff could ignite his supporters to target them. A New York appeals court upheld the gag order in December.

Despite the gag order, Trump posted on Truth Social Wednesday that ”the Trump hating judge" was trying to “screw” him after Engoron warned the former president that he could not deliver a “campaign speech” in court, prompting Trump to decide against speaking during closing arguments.

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But ultimately Trump addressed the court on Thursday, calling the case “disgraceful.”

“This is a fraud on me. What’s happened here, sir, is a fraud on me,” Trump told Engoron, according to reporters in the courtroom.

Just days ago, Washington, D.C. police responded to another swatting incident targeting U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan who is overseeing Trump’s Jan. 6 election interference case. Police responded to a false report of a shooting outside her home. The FBI is also investigating threats made against the Colorado Supreme Court justices who barred Trump from the state’s primary ballot.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

For judges today, ruling with fear ‘is the new normal’

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Source:  
MSNBC

The “cardinal rule” of judging is to “rule without fear,” former California Superior Court Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell told MSNBC, but fear today “is the new normal” for judges, she said. Judicial independence and democracy itself disappear when judges’ “fear of the mob” outweighs their commitment to upholding the Constitution, she argued. Trump’s verbal attacks on court staff are no longer “dog whistles” but “bullhorns” to his supporters, she added.

Trump’s rhetoric against foes has been followed by threats to their safety

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Sources:  
The Washington Post, The Atlantic

Mayors, governors, lawmakers, and Trump’s own administration officials who were targets of the then-president’s ire have had their safety threatened, in what The Washington Post described in 2020 as a “dynamic…without precedent.” While the extent of Trump’s responsibility for threats to his foes is hard to measure, he has been frequently warned that his rhetoric fuels “mob-like anger,” but “he cannot admit that his language is having this horrible effect, because he knows it’s motivating to his supporters,” one former Trump official told the Post. Often, the danger becomes real for Trump’s perceived adversaries, such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who was the target of a foiled kidnapping attempt, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said he and his family required constant security. Even Republicans are well aware of what crossing Trump means, with some deciding to vote against impeaching him after Jan. 6 out of fear for their family’s safety, according to the Atlantic.

Judges are playing into Trump’s strategy of delaying the trial until after the election

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Source:  
The American Prospect

The American legal system does not give defendants “this kind of kid-glove treatment” that it lends to Trump, such as granting him an immunity appeal hearing and scaling back some of his gag orders, argued The American Prospect editor Ryan Cooper. The judges overseeing Trump’s cases have allowed him to “undermine the legal process by procedural abuses,” furthering his goal of delaying the cases until he wins the election and declares himself innocent, Cooper wrote. Whether Trump wins will be “highly influenced” by whether his cases are resolved fairly and in time, Cooper said, but the public interest in what Trump has to say will be undermined if judges allow him to talk about his trials “in any way whatsoever.”

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