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Judge In Trump Civil Trial Pounds Table, Lashes Out At His Lawyers

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The judge overseeing New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud trial against Donald Trump exhibited more bizarre behavior during a court session on Thursday, launching a mini tirade at the former president’s legal team.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron slammed a hand down on his table during a cross-examination of a witness after he obviously grew annoyed at the line of questioning, according to the New York Post.

Trump’s lawyers were getting very technical with Mazars USA partner David Bender when Engoron exclaimed, “This is ridiculous!” after the president’s attorneys accused Bender of refusing to answer questions.

“Don’t waste time,” he added as Trump’s attorneys tried arguing that they had to go through their client’s records “year by year” with the witness.

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Trump’s attorneys had already spent “part of Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday morning” parsing Bender’s testimony, The Post noted. When they advised that he would remain on the stand for the rest of the day, that’s when Engoron lost his temper.

“This is ridiculous!” he said, adding: “Mr. Bender isn’t on trial here.”

“We need to be allowed to parse the evidence,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise argued in response, according to The Post. “We didn’t bring this case.”

“We haven’t got one answer from him,” another Trump attorney, Alina Habba, added. “He has no memory as we sit here.”

At one point, Kise agreed “to streamline” the questioning, which led Engoron to respond, “Let’s not waste time.”

Engoron indicated that Trump’s legal team appeared to be employing courtroom theatrics designed to make an impact on a jury or possibly the media but that these tactics were not conducive to a bench trial where the judge alone would make the ultimate decision.

“There is no jury here,” he told the Trump team at least once, according to the report. He then asked: “Who are you talking to — me, the press or the audience?”

Before the start of the current proceedings, Engoron had ruled that Trump and his sons were guilty of fraudulently inflating their net worth to secure loans. Trump’s legal team filed an appeal of that ruling on Wednesday, reports said.

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Engoron has also taken preventative measures to ensure that Trump cannot make any secret moves to protect his wealth during the trial.

In a new ruling issued on Thursday morning, Engoron angrily demanded that all defendants in the case disclose their current ownership of and any third parties’ interests in the various businesses and organizations they control. There are other situations where forewarning is required, such as “the creation of a new entity” or “any anticipated transfer of assets or liabilities to any other entities.”

The court-appointed monitor, former federal Judge Barbara Jones, has asked for full disclosure of the company’s financials from Trump, his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg, and Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney within one week.

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The order was issued before Trump’s civil trial in Manhattan entered its fourth day. Prosecutors have already convinced Engoron that there is “conclusive evidence” that the former president exaggerated his assets and that the Trump Organization lost its business certification.

Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, is demanding $250 million in damages from Trump in addition to a ban on the president and his two sons doing business in New York.

According to Newsweek, former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe said that Engoron’s order on Thursday is the “logical next step” in the court proceedings since babysitters will soon be appointed to monitor the financial activity and possible dissolution of the business entities involved in the case.

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