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Judge: Democrat NY AG Letitia James can’t block 4 Trump witnesses from testifying

By Stew Davidson
|
January 22, 2024

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled against New York Attorney General Letitia James' attempt to block four witnesses from defending former President Donald Trump in his civil fraud trial.

In a significant development in the civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump, Judge Arthur Engoron dismissed New York Attorney General Letitia James' motion to prevent four specific witnesses from testifying in Trump's defense. The decision came after James argued that their testimonies would be irrelevant, considering Engoron's previous partial ruling against the Trump Organization in September, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

Engoron's stance on the trial's integrity

Judge Engoron expressed his desire to avoid a retrial and the potential of being reversed.

His decision reflects a commitment to the trial's integrity and the importance of allowing a comprehensive defense.

Engoron's ruling permits the testimonies of Jason Flemmons, a forensic accounting expert; Steve Witkoff, a New York City real estate investor; Steven Laposa of Laposa Realty Advisors; and David Miller, an expert in insurance issues and underwriting.

While allowing these testimonies, Engoron emphasized the need for staying relevant during the hearings.

Engoron stated that the witnesses must remain on topic and avoid straying into unrelated subjects.

This directive ensures that the trial remains focused and that the testimonies contribute directly to the case at hand.

Rejection of immediate trial cessation

Trump's legal team faced a setback when their request to halt the civil fraud trial immediately was denied by Judge Engoron.

The judge did not issue a ruling on the request but affirmed that the trial would proceed as planned. Donald Trump Jr. is set to return to the stand as the first defense witness, marking a continuation of the trial's proceedings.

Ivanka Trump, who is not named as a defendant in James's lawsuit, concluded her testimony on Thursday.

During her time on the stand, she denied having detailed knowledge of the financial documents in question, highlighting the complexity of the case and the challenges in understanding the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Implications of Engoron's September ruling

In September, Judge Engoron found former President Trump, his sons Eric Trump and Trump Jr., and two executives of the Trump Organization liable for business fraud.

The ongoing trial primarily aims to determine the penalties for these findings.

Attorney General James is seeking substantial damages in excess of $300 million, and she aims to prohibit Trump from conducting business in New York, a state where many of the Trump Organization's premier properties are located.

The trial's outcome could have far-reaching implications, not only for Trump and his business empire but also for the broader business community in New York.

The decision to allow the four witnesses to testify adds another layer of complexity to the case, as their testimonies could potentially influence the trial's direction and the final judgment.

Conclusion

  • Judge Arthur Engoron dismissed Attorney General Letitia James' attempt to block four witnesses from defending Donald Trump in his civil fraud trial.
  • The trial will proceed as planned, with Donald Trump Jr. returning as the first defense witness.
  • The outcome of the trial could significantly impact Trump's business activities and the legal environment in New York.