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Former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants requested a mistrial in his New York non-jury civil fraud case on Wednesday, alleging the appearance of bias from the judge and his principal law clerk had “tainted” the trial.
“This appearance of bias threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution,” Trump’s attorneys said in the filing, according to ABC News. “As developed herein, in this case the evidence of apparent and actual bias is tangible and overwhelming.”
Trump’s legal team reportedly referenced a Wheatley School alumni page that trial Judge Arthur Engoron appears to run. According to The Hill, the judge allegedly made posts about the case or individuals involved in it, including Trump, Eric Trump, and Trump’s attorney Alina Habba.
The filing pointed to a New York code that states, “a judge shall not make any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court within the United States or its territories.”
Trump’s legal team also expressed concern with Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, for her “unprecedented role in the trial and extensive, public partisan activities.”
“Such evidence, coupled with an unprecedented departure from standard judicial procedure, has tainted these proceedings and a mistrial is warranted,” the filing says.
The case stems from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into Trump’s business practices. James, who campaigned on prosecuting Trump, has charged the former president, his companies, and members of his family with lying on property valuations to secure favorable loan terms and other illegal advantages.
James is seeking $250 million and restrictions on Trump’s ability to do business in New York.
A spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office reportedly said that the former president’s request for a mistrial is an effort to “dismiss the truth and the facts, but the numbers and evidence don’t lie.”
“He can keep trying to distract from his fraud, but the truth always comes out,” the spokesperson said.
The filing in Manhattan marks the latest confrontation between Trump’s attorneys and Judge Arthur Engoron, who issued a gag order against the former president last month, prohibiting him from making public statements about Engoron’s principal law clerk. Trump has since violated the order twice, costing him $15,000 in fines.
Engoron, a Democrat, already ruled that Trump is liable for “persistent fraud” after the New York State Attorney General’s Office (OAG) said Trump had prepared, certified, and submitted false and misleading financial statements to lenders.
According to ABC News, Engoron did not rule on Trump’s legal team’s request for a mistrial on Wednesday to give the New York attorney general time to decide whether the state will respond.
“I would ask if we could have until tomorrow to determine if we want to put in anything,” said state attorney Kevin Wallace.
Trump offered remarks before entering the courthouse last week, calling the trial “political warfare” and “political law-fare.”
“Usually, it takes place in third-world countries and banana republics,” Trump said. “Nobody has ever seen that to this extent. We’ve never seen it here.”
Tim Pearce contributed to this report.