Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump have filed a motion for a mistrial in the ongoing civil fraud trial against him and his company. Trump's legal team argues that the court, including the judge and his law clerk, have demonstrated bias against the ex-president. The trial, brought forth by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accuses Trump and his business associates of fraudulently misstating valuations on financial statements.
The mistrial request was submitted after the defendants failed to secure a directed verdict that would have ended the trial in their favor. Trump's attorneys claim that the court has shown "ample bias" against their client, echoing Trump's accusations of unfair treatment on social media. They point to Judge Arthur Engoron and his law clerk, who they allege are politically biased and improperly influencing the case.
The mistrial motion also contests the gag order imposed on speaking about court staff, which has resulted in Trump being fined $15,000. Trump's attorneys argue that this order, along with the judge's repeated rulings against the defendants, further demonstrates bias against the former president. They claim that the court has taken on the roles of "judge, jury, and executioner."
Judge Engoron will ultimately decide on the mistrial motion. His past defense of his law clerk and his assertion that his rulings have been unbiased suggest that he is unlikely to grant the request. The trial, which began in October, is projected to continue until mid-December. Trump's legal team is currently presenting their defense after witnesses were called by the state in the first half of the trial.
If Judge Engoron rules against Trump and his family, they face significant consequences, including a potential $250 million fine and a prohibition on running any New York businesses. Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud and ordered the cancellation of the Trump Organization's business certificates, although an appeals court has temporarily halted this part of the order.
This civil fraud trial, initiated by the New York Attorney General, alleges that Trump and his associates fraudulently misrepresented valuations on financial statements over multiple years. Witnesses, including former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, have been called to testify. The Trump family has sought to distance themselves from the statements, despite evidence suggesting their involvement. The mistrial filing comes after Trump's attorneys previously hinted at the possibility, following a contentious exchange involving the judge's law clerk.