February 20, 2024

Trump’s fraud trial judge fires back at defence attorneys: ‘That whole approach is getting old’

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s fraud trial is imminently anticipated to concern a closing judgment in a sprawling civil case that would critically harm the former president’s household enterprise and brand-building real estate empire.

That is, if he can determine if certainly one of Mr Trump’s co-defendants lied in his courtroom.

Judge Arthur Engoron is pushing Trump lawyers, the state legal professional normal’s workplace and the Manhattan district legal professional for “anything” they’ll inform him about former Trump Organization chief monetary officer Allen Weisselberg reportedly negotiating a plea deal with New York City prosecutors for his testimony within the civil fraud trial.

If Weisselberg is now “admitting he lied under oath in my courtroom at this trial,” the judge needs to find out about, he wrote to attorneys final week. “I do not want to ignore anything in a case of this magnitude,” he stated, in line with courtroom paperwork.

Lawyers for Mr Trump’s grownup sons and co-defendants called the request “unprecedented, inappropriate and troubling.”

Alina Habba – who represents Weisselberg within the civil case however is not his felony defence lawyer – additionally declined to offer the judge with any details about his plea negotiations and stated no additional motion was wanted.

An article in The New York Times that reported Weisselberg’s plea negotiations is “neither admissible nor reliable, and it should not be considered in Your Honor’s determination as to the merits of this case,” she wrote, in line with court documents. “We urge you to render your decision based solely on the evidence now before you.”

In a separate assertion, Mr Trump’s legal professional Chris Kise stated that “court decisions are supposed to be made based on the evidence at trial, not on media speculation.”

On Thursday, the judge fired back at defence legal professionals.

“When I sent my straightforward, narrow request for information about possible perjury by Allen Weisselberg in the subject case, I was not seeking to initiate a wide-ranging debate with counsel,” he wrote. “However, your misleading response grossly mischaracterizes the letter that I wrote, and I feel compelled to respond.”

New York County Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron


He accused them of launching a straw-man assault towards him for contemplating the article’s contents as reality, however stated that if Weisselberg “publicly confesses to having committed perjury about a significant matter in the case before me, or if he pleads guilty to such perjury at any time before I issue my final decision, I will research and consider what the law allows.”

“You and your co-counsel have been questioning my impartiality since the early days of this case, presumably because I sometimes rule against your clients,” he added. “That whole approach is getting old.”

The judge informed defence attorneys that he is “not reopening the case”.

“But if someone pleads guilty to committing perjury in a case over which I am presiding, I want to know about it,” he stated.

A courtroom sketch depicts former Trump Organization chief monetary officer testifying in a felony tax fraud trial in New York in 2022


Last 12 months, Mr Trump’s former high monetary lieutenant spent 100 days in Rikers Island jail after pleading responsible to tax-related crimes in 2022. He was additionally a part of a felony tax fraud trial involving two Trump Organization subsidiaries, among the many first Trump-connected entities to be convicted of crimes. A New York City jury discovered the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation responsible on greater than a dozen prices and they were fined $1.6m.

Weisselberg additionally testified at the civil fraud trial, the place legal professionals for the state questioned him about his data of statements of monetary situation, the paperwork at the guts of the case.

Those paperwork included grossly inflated valuations of Mr Trump’s internet price and belongings in an effort to acquire beneficial financing phrases for a few of his brand-building properties, in line with a lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Ms James is looking for to get well $370m in so-called “ill-gotten gains” that the defendants wouldn’t in any other case have obtained if they’d included correct assessments of his wealth in these paperwork, in line with her workplace.

He additionally can be banned from the state’s actual property business for all times, below sanctions proposed by Ms James’s workplace.

The judge initially self-imposed a 31 January deadline for a closing judgment within the case, however after that date had handed, a spokesperson for New York courts informed The Independent {that a} final decision could possibly be anticipated nearer to mid-February.

But that was earlier than information of Weisselberg’s potential plea deal.

The Independent has requested remark from an legal professional for Weisselberg and a spokesperson for the Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace.