Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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A QAnon-linked X user found shirtless pictures of the judge in Trump’s civil trial, and right-wing media brought them to Trump

On November 6, a QAnon-linked X (formerly Twitter) account posted an attack on New York Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, for sharing shirtless fitness update photos with his high school alumni group. It took just over 48 hours for the attack to travel through right-wing media to Trump’s Truth Social feed.

Trump’s November 8 post — which is no longer available on the platform — amplified an article from far-right outlet The Gateway Pundit that called the judge “unhinged.” It's one of many attacks right-wing media have levied against the judge, who has imposed a limited gag order on Trump during his trial.

  • Right-wing figures keep attacking Engoron -- who has imposed a limited gag order on Trump during his trial -- including for content the judge shared in an alumni newsletter

    • Engoron, who is overseeing Trump’s business fraud trial in New York, created a high school alumni association and authored its newsletter, which sometimes included fitness updates of alumni. In numerous editions of the newsletter, Engoron seemingly shared pictures of himself at the gym with other alumni, fitness updates of other alumni, and three shirtless photos of himself as a “before and after” fitness update. [The Wheatley School Alumni Association, 1/13/16]
    • Trump and right-wing media have repeatedly maligned Engoron as he presides over the former president’s civil business fraud trial. Engoron’s supposed courtroom conduct has generated significant ire from Trump and right-wing media outlets, and right-wing figures have accused his wife of posting anti-Trump content on social media with a burner account, which she has denied. [Newsweek, 11/8/23, 11/8/23; Daily Dot, 11/8/23]
    • Engoron has imposed a limited gag order on the former president for the trial, citing Trump’s frequent comments and social media posts threatening court officials. Engoron has already fined Trump $10,000 for violating the order after Trump targeted a court clerk in comments made to reporters. [AP News, 10/3/23; CNN, 10/26/23]
  • 11/6/23: A QAnon-linked X user posted Engoron’s fitness photos and a right-wing organization founded by a former Trump aide amplified them

    • An X account, which had previously echoed a post from “Q,” QAnon’s central figure, shared Engoron’s fitness update photos from the alumni newsletter. Responding to a post from The National Pulse’s Raheem Kassam that criticized the trial, the user claimed “Erdogan” likes “taking nude bathroom selfies.” This account had also previously posted, “QAnon does not exist. There is Q and then there are Anons,” a phrase previously used by Q. The Anti-Defamation League has described this phrase as one used by QAnon adherents to distance themselves from the negative perceptions of the theory. [Twitter/X, 11/6/23, 7/12/23; ADL, accessed 11/9/23
    • Hours later right-wing organization Marco Polo amplified the original post and shared additional photos, claiming they were “naked selfies.” Marco Polo posted additional images on X along with the links to the newsletter editions, and directly tagged Trump’s X account in the post. The organization was founded by former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler and is responsible for publicly sharing alleged nude photos of presidential son Hunter Biden from his laptop. [Twitter/X, 11/6/23; The Washington Post, 9/17/23;, 6/1/23]
  • 11/7/23: Right-wing media outlets picked up the trail and used the photos to attack Engoron’s credibility

    • The following day, right-wing outlet Post Millennial reported on Marco Polo’s post, adding claims from Trump attorney Alina Habba that Engoron is biased against Trump. After repackaging Marco Polo’s post, the article pivoted to discussing Engoron's supposed conduct, parroting Habba’s claims that Engoron “yelled” at her and “slammed a table.” [Post Millennial, 11/7/23]
    • That evening, Fox News host Jesse Watters dedicated an entire segment to the photos, in which he referred to Engoron as “Judge Nudie.” Watters used the photos to attack Engoron’s credibility, commenting, “Judge Nudie has the right to express himself in any way he wants. We don't judge. But he does. The nude bathroom selfie-sharing former drummer gets to decide whether Donald Trump's real estate empire lives or dies. You can't take this man seriously. … The man’s a joke. If anybody should be hit with a gag order, it’s Judge Nudie.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 11/7/23]
  • Video file

    Citation From the November 7, 2023, edition of Fox News' Jesse Watters Primetime

  • 11/8/23: Trump shared a Gateway Pundit article about the photos that attacked the judge as “unhinged”

    • Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, published an article sharing the same images of Engoron along with a clip of Watters’ commentary. His article attacked Engoron by calling him “unhinged” and “malnourished,” and questioned the judge’s credibility by claiming, “These images, intended to flaunt muscle gains, instead cast a shadow of doubt over the judge’s judgment.” [The Gateway Pundit, 11/8/23]
    • Trump shared a link to the Gateway Pundit’s article on his Truth Social platform. The post, which came at 10:32 p.m. ET, contained no additional commentary beyond the headline and is no longer available on Trump’s account as of November 9. [Truth Social, accessed 11/8/23]