Trump Lawyers Seek to Halt Civil Fraud Trial

Lawyers representing former President Donald Trump have approached a New York appellate court, urging it to pause his ongoing civil fraud trial in Manhattan. They are challenging a recent decision that suggests the dissolution of several companies that oversee some of Trump’s most valuable assets, such as Trump Tower.

The legal team appealed to the appellate court to put the trial, spearheaded by New York Attorney General Letitia James, on hold. They also hope to prevent Judge Arthur Engoron from acting on his previous week’s decision which could potentially strip the ex-president’s business licenses and place an appointed overseer to manage his enterprises.

In a comprehensive 41-page brief, Trump’s attorneys Clifford Robert, Michael Farina, and Michael Madaio emphasized that Engoron failed to understand the turmoil resulting from his decision. They noted that seizing control of Trump’s businesses would undoubtedly bring about significant damage. This damage would not only affect Trump and co-defendants but also workers and others reliant on the involved companies for their income.

Although the appellate court dismissed a defense request to postpone the trial just before it started, Trump’s lawyers have since withdrawn a lawsuit against Engoron related to that challenge. The appellate court’s decision on the new appeal remains pending.

James’ team expressed openness to contemplate postponing the enforcement of Engoron’s judgment until post-trial. However, Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan insisted that the trial should continue without interruptions. He highlighted the significant court preparations, including security measures for Trump’s appearance, special press and public provisions, and the inconvenience a delay would pose to witnesses.

James remained confident in her stance, asserting, “We are confident justice will prevail.” She referred to Engoron’s conclusion from the previous week that Trump had engaged in fraudulent practices over many years, misrepresenting his asset values to banks, insurers, and other parties. This, she alleged, played a crucial role in his deal-making and loan-acquisition strategies.

Trump has rejected these allegations, countering that some of his assets are genuinely more valuable than the figures reported.

Recent directives from Engoron outline the enforcement of his judgment. Both parties are to suggest potential overseers by Oct. 26. Trump and co-defendants have been given a week to furnish retired federal judge Barbara Jones, appointed as the monitor, with a comprehensive list of entities affected by the decision.

Additionally, Jones must be informed in advance of any application for fresh business licenses in any region or any endeavor to establish new entities to manage the assets of a company marked for dissolution.

Engoron’s decision has been criticized by Trump’s lawyers as lacking “valid reason or legal foundation,” dubbing it “the corporate death penalty.” They also chided the judge for not lucidly conveying the practical implications of his decision. During a pretrial session on Sept. 26, Trump’s attorney Christopher Kise sought clarity from Engoron regarding the implications of his verdict, to which the judge deferred any immediate decision.

Expressing deep concern in their recent appeal, Trump’s attorneys labeled Engoron’s verdict as a “vague mandate that breeds uncertainty and disruption upon execution.”