Court officials are solidifying preparations for the forthcoming $250 million civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump, scheduled for Monday, following discussions between attorneys representing Trump and the New York Attorney General’s office on preliminary matters during a hearing on Wednesday. However, there are lingering uncertainties concerning the repercussions of Judge Arthur Engoron’s far-reaching ruling issued on Tuesday.
In a scathing decree issued on Tuesday, Judge Engoron directed the revocation of the Trump Organization’s business certifications in New York, asserting that Trump and his co-defendants had engaged in “persistent fraud” by inflating the valuation of his assets.
Nevertheless, the judge stipulated that a trial was still imperative to adjudicate six remaining legal allegations brought forward by Attorney General Letitia James. This trial would also address the extent of the potential penalties, which may encompass prohibiting Trump from engaging in real estate transactions and seeking loans in New York.
“The complexion of the case has undergone substantial changes since yesterday,” remarked Engoron during Wednesday’s hearing, a mere day after delivering a partial summary judgment that significantly curtails Trump’s ability to conduct business in New York in the future.
In light of Tuesday’s ruling, which essentially resolved the central issue in the attorney general’s case, Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, sought clarification from the court regarding its impact on the trial and Trump’s individual business entities.
“Please do not take this inquiry amiss, but in the court’s perspective, what is the present form of this trial?” inquired Kise.
In response, Engoron inquired whether the attorney general would contemplate dismissing the remaining legal claims to streamline the trial. An attorney for the attorney general indicated their intention to proceed with these arguments, emphasizing their relevance to the relief they were seeking.
“Claims two through seven remain active, so I’m uncertain how to respond,” Engoron retorted to Kise’s query.
Kise also sought confirmation from Engoron regarding which of Trump’s numerous business entities would be subject to Tuesday’s ruling, which nullified the business certifications for entities owned or controlled by the defendants.
“With the multitude of entities involved and their respective employees, we simply seek clarity,” Kise articulated.
Engoron refrained from delivering an immediate bench ruling or response to the query, opting instead to address the matter in a future private meeting between the counsels.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, characterized Engoron’s ruling on Tuesday as “illogical” and “excessively overreaching.” She conveyed to ABC News after Wednesday’s hearing that the ruling had left the defense in a state of uncertainty regarding the trial’s nature.
“The scope of the case is ambiguous… when we arrived today, we were uncertain whether it had been summarily decided on all counts or not,” Habba remarked.
Habba further conveyed that Trump’s defense would have to “wait and see” how the ruling would impact the scheduled trial on Monday. The attorney also indicated that Trump intends to promptly appeal what she termed the judge’s “fundamentally flawed” decision.
During Wednesday’s hearing, both Trump’s legal team and the government concurred that Barbara Jones, a previously appointed independent monitor, should be designated as the independent receiver responsible for overseeing the dissolution of the canceled limited liability companies (LLCs). Engoron indicated his intention to issue a ruling appointing Jones as the receiver.
Regarding a defense motion to restrict the testimony of expert witnesses during the trial, the defense disclosed their intent to withdraw the motion without prejudice, allowing the parties to address issues related to expert witnesses on a case-by-case basis.
Subsequent to the hearing, attorneys representing both the defense and the attorney general convened to determine the courtroom layout for presenting opening statements on Monday.
In his order on Tuesday, Engoron alleged that Trump, along with his adult sons Eric and Don Jr. and other defendants, artificially inflated the valuations of various properties, including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his triplex apartment in New York City, 40 Wall Street, Trump Park Avenue, multiple golf courses, and an estate in upstate New York.
Responding to the order, Eric Trump, who manages the day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization, conveyed on X, previously known as Twitter, “We have operated an exceptional company—never missing a loan payment, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for banks, and developing some of the world’s most iconic assets. Yet today, the persecution of our family persists…”
During a pretrial conference conducted last week, Engoron expressed frustration with the defense counsel for rehashing flawed arguments that he had previously ruled against. As a result, the judge imposed sanctions of $7,500 on each of the five defense lawyers for reiterating “frivolous arguments.”
Trump has sought to postpone the commencement of the trial, and an appeals court is expected to render a decision on these motions as early as Thursday.
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