OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump is currently facing civil fraud charges, and Judge Arthur Engoron has taken preventative measures to ensure that he 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.
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.
McAuliffe also pointed out that the order illustrates why Trump can’t ignore the legal challenges he faces as the 2024 election approaches.
“The court’s supplemental order reflects why the Trump family defendants have good reason to fear the civil fraud lawsuit and the ongoing trial,” he said.
After Engoron’s ruling on September 26, many began wondering if former President Trump would try to transfer ownership of his properties to those close to him in an effort to maintain control of his businesses, as they are now under threat in the same city where he built them decades ago.
Melania Trump, the former first lady, is not a defendant in the fraud lawsuit, so it has been suggested that he transfer them to her. However, according to Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s former chief of staff, Melania is unlikely to do so unless she is “granted some major control or power.”
McAuliffe stated that the fraud trial would continue despite the likelihood that Trump’s legal team would appeal the most recent order.
AG James responded to comments Trump made outside a Manhattan courtroom following the second day of her civil fraud trial against him, labeling them as “baseless” and “offensive.”
In remarks to reporters, she claimed that Trump “fomented violence” with remarks that amounted to “race-baiting” while complaining that his statements appeal to the “bottom of our humanity.” She then accused him and his companies of engaging in a “pattern and practice of fraud.”
“I will not be bullied,” she said at one point. “Mr. Trump is no longer here. The Donald Trump show is over.”
She went on to dismiss his remarks as a “political stunt” organized by the former president.
At another point during his remarks, Trump discussed whether he would testify in his own civil trial in a case filed against him and his sons and companies by James.
Trump said that he will take the stand during the $250 million civil trial “at the appropriate time.”
The former president is on the witness lists for himself and for the prosecution.
“Yes, I will” testify at the trial, Trump told reporters in remarks during the lunch break on day two of the trial Tuesday. “At the appropriate time, I will be,” he added.
“I think it’s going very well,” he continued after being asked to assess the trial thus far.