Entering the second phase of Donald Trump’s $250 million Manhattan financial fraud trial, the former president’s defense team is alluding to a potentially significant legal move, described by one court observer as the “nuclear option,” according to The Daily Beast.
As the defense started presenting witnesses, Monday saw Donald Trump Jr. taking the stand in an attempt to counter the narrative in a case where Judge Arthur Engoron had already signaled findings suggesting financial fraud involving Trump and his Trump Organization executives.
The stakes are high, with the possibility that Judge Engoron might order the dismantling of the entire company to cover millions in fines, coupled with a prohibition on Trump family members conducting business in New York.
The defense is gearing up for a major filing, with hints at a potential declaration of a complete mistrial, as reported by The Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery. However, this move is viewed with skepticism, given the judge’s past reluctance to pause proceedings or reconsider previous rulings.
The defense’s strategy also involves raising concerns about Judge Engoron’s conduct during the trial, with Trump lawyer Alina Habba expressing discontent on Fox News about alleged communication between the judge and his law clerk Allison Greenfield. Plans to address these issues through legal filings are reportedly underway.
In tandem with these legal maneuvers, there’s a separate effort led by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who sent a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct questioning Judge Engoron’s ethics. This two-pronged approach aims to disrupt the trial, but the report suggests that the defense’s frustration has shifted from the Attorney General’s office to the judge himself.
Notably, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise, who initially approached the proceedings with a more measured demeanor, has reportedly adopted a more confrontational stance, cautioning the judge about creating a “poor record” that could impact any potential appeal.
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