US Judge Engoron Tears Donald Trump to Shreds


DECEMBER 19, 2023

Justice Arthur Engoron sits in his court room during the civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, 2023 in New York City. Engoron has dismissed Trump’s latest bid to end the business fraud lawsuit in favor of the former president.Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images

The judge ruling over Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial wrote a scathing rebuttal of the former president’s defense while rejecting the Republican’s latest attempt to have the case decided in his favor.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the case in which Trump is accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of fraudulently inflating the value of his properties and assets in financial statements, dismissed the former president’s appeal for a directed ruling to clear him of any wrongdoing for the fifth time on Monday.

Engoron has already ruled that Trump committed fraud while filing financial statements for years, and is expected to decide on the size of the punishment against the former president sometime around late January or early February. Trump, the front runner in the GOP presidential primary, denies all wrongdoing and says the case is a politically motivated “witch hunt” that aims to stop him from winning the 2024 election.

Trump faces being banned from doing business in New York state, having his properties removed from his control, or being forced to pay a fine totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

While rejecting Trump’s argument to rule in his favor, Engorn highlighted some of the “fatal flaws” in the former president’s defense, including the testimony from one of their expert witnesses in the trial, New York University Stern School of Business research professor Eli Bartov.

During his testimony, Bartov told the New York court that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that Trump or his family committed fraud with their financial statements. It was later revealed that Bartov was paid $1,350 an hour for his services to defend the former president, putting his total at $877,500.

Engoron said Trump and his legal team were wrong to assume that the court would accept Bertov’s testimony as “true and accurate,” adding: “Bartov is a tenured professor, but the only thing his testimony proves is that for a million or so dollars, some experts will say whatever you want them to say.”

Engoron added that Bartov had “lost all credibility” by “doggedly attempting to justify every misstatement” from the former president during his testimony.

In a series of posts on Truth Social, Trump lashed out at Engoron for having “mocked and excoriated” Bartov for “telling the Truth” in the judge’s latest ruling.

“The ignorant Judge did not even try to listen to the Expert Witness. This is a great insult to a man of impeccable character and qualifications,” Trump wrote. “The Judge ignores the Law!”

Engoron also dismissed one of the key arguments from Trump that valuations on his properties such as Mar-a-Lago, his triplex apartment at Trump Tower in Manhattan, or his golf courses are subjective, or that their value is based on what people are willing to pay, as a “lie is still a lie.”

“Valuing occupied residences as if vacant, valuing restricted land as if unrestricted, valuing an apartment as if it were triple its actual size, valuing property many times the amount of concealed appraisals, valuing planned buildings as if completed and ready to rent, valuing golf courses with brand premium while claiming not to, and valuing restricted funds as cash, are not subjective differences of opinion, they are misstatements at best and fraud at worst,” the judge wrote.

Elsewhere, Engoron said Trump and his legal team’s attempts to have the case thrown out despite the “voluminous” evidence against the former president “personify frivolity.”

In a statement to Newsweek, Trump attorney Chris Kise said that Engoron’s ruling represents a “complete failure” to address the legal elements of the claims and a “rejection of the real facts from the real participants in the real world.”

“Based on the decision, it appears the Attorney General’s burden of proof does not matter, the testimony from the involved bankers does not matter, application of governing accounting standards does not matter, the express language of the financial statements does not matter, and the ruling from the First Department does not matter,” Kisa added. “All that seems to matter is arriving at a predetermined destination.”

Testimonies in the civil trial ended on December 13 after more than 10 weeks of evidence and heated exchanges between Engoron, Trump, and his legal team. Proceedings in New York are set to resume in early January with closing arguments.

Courtesy: Newsweek