- House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik has filed a lawsuit calling for the impeachment of the judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s $250 million business fraud trial.
- Stefanik claimed Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron showed “clear judicial bias” against Trump.
- Engoron is presiding over New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case accusing Trump, his two adult sons and others of fraudulently inflating the value of their assets to obtain various financial benefits.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) speaks during a press conference following a caucus meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill May 10, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik on Friday filed an ethics complaint calling for removal of judge presiding over former president’s $250 million business fraud trial Donald Trump.
Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and one of Trump’s staunchest allies in the House, claimed in her complaint that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron showed “one-sidedness” “obvious legal action” against the former president and had demonstrated “bizarre behavior” during his mandate. civil trial profile.
Stefanik, whose congressional district covers northeastern New York, urged the state Commission on Judicial Conduct to “take corrective action to restore a fair process and protect our constitutional rights.”
Stefanik also wrote that Engoron “must recuse himself from this case,” although the commission does not have the power to remove specific judges.
The complaint marks a remarkable step by Trump’s political allies in Washington, who are joining his aggressive efforts to undermine Engoron, whose decisions in the case could deal a major blow to the ex-president and his business empire .
The letter from Stefanik, who is not a lawyer and has no connection to the case, could also be intended to support Trump’s argument if he appeals Engoron’s possible rulings.
It follows a week of trial testimony from members of the Trump family that some legal experts say did not help their case.
The case will settle complaints filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who accuses Trump, his two adult sons, his company and some of his top executives of fraudulently inflating the value of Trump’s assets to increase his worth net and reap financial benefits.
Engoron will deliver his verdict in a non-jury trial, as neither side requested a jury trial in advance.
Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud. The trial itself will determine how much the defendants will be ordered to pay in damages or other penalties. The judge will also evaluate six other claims in James’ lawsuit that have not yet been resolved.
In addition to seeking approximately $250 million in damages, James wants to permanently ban Trump Sr., Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump from running a business in New York.
Stefanik’s letter Friday echoed many of Trump’s criticisms of Engoron and James’ case, as she urged the commission to sanction the judge.
She criticized the judge for posing for courtroom cameras on the first day of the trial, for granting James’ request for partial summary judgment in a pretrial ruling, and for imposing a silence to Trump and his lawyers. She also reiterated Trump’s claim that the value of his Palm Beach vacation home, Mar-a-Lago, is far higher than estimates provided at trial.
Engoron had barred Trump from making public statements after Trump repeatedly targeted the judge’s top law clerk on the second day of the trial. The judge then extended this silence order to Trump’s lawyers after their “repeated and inappropriate remarks” about the clerk.
Trump was found to have violated this narrow silence order twice since it was imposed, resulting in a $15,000 fine. Stefanik called the silence order “un-American.”
Her letter also targets the clerk, saying she has given more in political donations to Democratic candidates than she is allowed to do as a court official.
“Judge Engoron’s bizarre and biased behavior is making the New York justice system a laughing stock,” Stefanik wrote. “The Commission’s sanctions against Judge Engoron are necessary to restore credibility to the justice system of our great state.”