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Trump demands mistrial in $250 million New York fraud case

By CM Chaney · November 15, 2023

In brief…

  • Trump seeks mistrial in NY fraud case, alleging judge bias
  • Lawyers claim judge posted anti-Trump articles, gave clerk improper role
  • Judge already found Trump liable; case could strip him of properties
  • NY AG says Trump trying to distract from his fraud, evidence is clear
Donald Trump has moved for a mistrial in the New York fraud case against his company, claiming the judge has shown bias through his actions and his clerk's alleged partisan ties.  Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia

Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday filed a motion seeking a mistrial in the $250 million civil fraud case against his family’s real estate business in New York state court.

Trump’s lawyers argued the judge overseeing the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, and his principal law clerk showed bias against the defendants.

In court filings, Trump’s legal team claimed Judge Engoron improperly posted links to “disparaging” news articles about Trump on an alumni newsletter he runs. They also accused the judge of giving his clerk too much leeway to participate in the proceedings by passing notes and whispering to him.

“Given the demonstrable partisan bias present on the bench at trial, the only way to maintain public confidence in a truly independent and impartial judiciary and the rule of law is to bring these proceedings to an immediate halt,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the 30-page motion.

In response, a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the fraud case, said Trump was trying to distract from his own “fraud.” Legal experts say Trump faces long odds of getting a new trial.

The civil case accuses Trump of inflating property values to get better loan terms. Judge Engoron has already found Trump liable for fraud, along with his sons Donald Jr. and Eric. His eventual ruling could strip Trump of control of some properties.

In their mistrial motion, Trump’s lawyers claimed the judge’s actions and his clerk’s alleged “partisan political contributions” to Democrats created an appearance of bias that threatens their rights. They called the clerk’s involvement “unprecedented and inappropriate.”

James asserted Trump was trying to “dismiss the truth and the facts” about his alleged fraud. “The numbers and evidence don’t lie,” she said, adding: “He can keep trying to distract from his fraud, but the truth always comes out.”