As Donald Trump's $250 million Manhattan financial fraud trial enters its second phase where the former president's defense team begins to call witnesses, Trump lawyers are hinting at making a major filing that one court observer describes to The Daily Beast as the "nuclear option."
On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. will take the stand in an effort to stem the bleeding in a case that Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled indicates financial fraud perpetrated by the former president and executives at his Trump Organization.
What is at stake is the possibility that Judge Engoron could order a receiver to dismantle the entire company in order to pay millions in fines while also banning the Trump family members from conducting business in the state of New York.
After the prosecution rested its case last week with the testimony of Ivanka Trump, attorney Alina Habba headed to Fox News on Sunday to complain about Judge Engoron communicating with his law clerk Allison Greenfield during the court proceedings, telling host Maria Bartiromo, "We’ll be filing papers to address all of those issues… soon, very soon.”
According to the Daily Beast's Jose Pagliery, "On the horizon is a ploy by Trump’s lawyers to interrupt the three-month court battle with an outsized request: the declaration of a complete mistrial," later adding, "It’s a nuclear option, albeit a warhead that’ll likely be a dud, given that Engoron has repeatedly declined to pause the proceedings or even reconsider past rulings."
That filing appears to be part of a two-front assault to derail the trial, working in tandem with a letter sent by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct questioning Engoron's ethics — a move one legal analyst called "embarrassing."
The Beast report adds, "... the defense team’s boiling anger has turned from the AG’s office to the judge, on whom the fate of the entire case relies. The shift is most evident from [Trump lawyer Christopher] Kise’s changing demeanor. Although the former Florida solicitor general leans heavily on his Southern charm, his genteel approach with Engoron has been replaced with outright hostility. At every turn, he now warns the judge that his comments 'make a poor record' that will surely come up on appeal."
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