OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former President Donald Trump tore into New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and Judge Arthur Engoron, the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial in the Empire State.
“Remember, the corrupt and radical Judge Engoron is a political hack who wouldn’t give us a Jury, wouldn’t let this ‘case’ go to the Commercial Division, where it belongs (would have been TERMINATED), incredibly ignored the Appellate Court decision that struck down almost 90% of this fake lawsuit based on Statute of Limitations, etc., and, Illegally and Unconstitutionally Gagged me and my lawyers, in a brazen and blatant attempt to prevent us from bringing vital information to the Public and the Courts,” Trump posted to Truth Social.
The former president said that James and Engoron are “causing grave damage to our Justice System, to New York State, and to the United States of America!”
When the judge issues a ruling, which could come any day, Trump could face $250 million in fines and a prohibition on conducting business in the state of New York. The Manhattan Supreme Court trial has been on a brief recess since December 13. Justice Engoron has stated his intention to decide the non-jury case by the month’s end.
AG James is suing Trump and his sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., for alleged ill-gotten gains totaling $250 million. The Republican candidate for president in 2024 is facing allegations that he inflated the value of his assets on his annual financial statements by billions of dollars to secure more favorable insurance and loan terms.
Even though Engoron has already determined that Trump is guilty of fraud, the court has not yet decided on other claims in James’ lawsuit or a possible final punishment.
A legal expert has speculated that the judge will likely decide that Trump owes the full $250 million or not rule at all, though he could order Trump to pay less or more than what the AG is seeking.
“There has been no clear number of either ill-gotten gain or loss, so I don’t know how the judge would come up with a different number,” Evan Gotlob, a former prosecutor and white-collar defense attorney at firm Saul Ewing, told the New York Post.
Judge Engoron revoked the business licenses of the Trump Organization and found Trump liable on one of the main fraud claims brought by the AG in a bombshell ruling that came just before the trial began.
The appeals court temporarily halted the final portion of the decision, so the company could keep operating until Engoron announced his decision.
It will likely take years for the case to conclude, according to Gotlob’s prediction, because Trump will likely appeal any negative ruling to the highest court in New York.
“This is a case that I could see, especially knowing how much the former president loves fighting decisions against him, that it’s going to go all the way up to the Court of Appeals,” Gotlob said.
According to Gotlob, “courts don’t like to get involved in politics,” so the case will likely not be resolved until after the 2024 presidential election. A final ruling could be announced as late as 2025 or 2026.
Regarding the revocation of the business licenses, Gotlob expressed his belief that the Trump real estate empire will not experience any consequences for years to come, as the ruling is currently pending appeals.
The lawyer’s opinion was that Trump could still find ways to circumvent the ruling, such as through the use of shell companies, even after it takes effect.
Still, “the possibility to lose business licenses for, at a minimum, five or even more years, that’s pretty damaging,” Gotlob said. “New York is like the epicenter of the business world.”
A leading legal expert cautioned the judge presiding over Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial in Manhattan, warning that his demeanor with the former president in court could come back to haunt him.
Attorney Michael Conway, who is a former House Judiciary Committee counsel, chided Judge Engoron over his language and behavior, citing in a column for MSNBC the trial of the so-called “Chicago 7,” as he reminded the judge “that the defendants in the notorious case went out of their way to antagonize Judge Julius Hoffman, which seems to be Donald Trump’s strategy in a case where Engoron has already found evidence of fraud.”
Conway further highlighted that during witness testimony, Engoron often clashed with both Trump’s legal team and the former president himself.
Additionally, Conway mentioned that the use of profanity by Engoron is likely to become a focal point in any future appeal.