Trump loses bid for mistrial in New York fraud case

The New York judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil trial for fraud allegations has rejected a motion from the former president’s attorneys for a mistrial.

A filing from attorneys for Mr Trump and his co-defendants argued that the case was “tainted” with “tangible and overwhelming” evidence of “apparent and actual bias” from Judge Arthur Engoron and his chief clerk, who has been the subject of ongoing attacks from Mr Trump and his allies, which prompted the judge to issue a gag order in the case that prevented parties from disparaging court staff.

In his order on Friday, Judge Engoron shot down “nonsensical” legal arguments from Mr Trump’s legal team involving his clerk, and underscored his “unfettered right” to consult with his law clerks throughout the course of a trial.

Attorneys for Mr Trump accused clerk Allison Greenfield’s “unprecedented role” in the trial and her “extensive, public partisan activities” would “cause even a casual observer to question the court’s partiality”.

“Thus, only the grant of a mistrial can salvage what is left of the rule of law,” they wrote.

Judge Engoron roundly rejected such arguments.

“My rulings are mine, and mine alone. There is absolutely no ‘co-judging’ at play,” according to the filing from the judge, referencing an allegation from Mr Trump’s attorneys.

He also rejected the attorneys’ “disingenuous” and “bad faith” use of his statements from the bench that were taken out of context while Mr Trump was testifying on the witness stand last week, and shot down allegations of impropriety surrounding articles about the case shared on a college newsletter, among other claims.

A filing from New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose lawsuit against the former president is at the centre of the case, called Mr Trump’s attorneys’ filing “spurious” and without merit.

Judge Engoron’s pretrial ruling already determined that Mr Trump, his adult sons and their chief associates in his Trump Organization umbrella defrauded banks and investors with grossly inflated valuations of his net worth and assets over a decade.

Mr Trump and attorneys for the defendants – from the courtroom and to the press – have repeatedly complained that the case and the judge are unfair and politically motivated. Their mistrial motion, filed after more than six weeks of witness testimony and as the attorney general’s office rested it case, marked a long-shot bid to shut down the trial as the defence began its arguments and introduced its witnesses.

Judge Engoron had issued a pair of gag orders to block all parties in the case from attacking his court staff – first, aimed at Mr Trump, after he did exactly that, and then again after his attorneys criticised her in the courtroom.

The gag orders were put on hold after Mr Trump’s attorneys filed an emergency appeal on Thursday.

The trial will resume on 20 November.