'Political gambit': Why Trump’s bid to oust judge from $250M fraud case will likely be 'shot down'

'Political gambit': Why Trump’s bid to oust judge from $250M fraud case will likely be 'shot down'

Less than one month ahead of the scheduled trial date for New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million fraud suit against ex-President Donald Trump, his family and the Trump Organization, the 2024 MAGA hopeful and his attorneys are vying to remove Justice Arthur F. Engoron from presiding over the case, The Daily Beast exclusively reports.

The news outlet reports:

At first, he seemed to give the Trump side the benefit of the doubt. When he noted that one lawyer was 'hardly punctilious in responding to the subject subpoenas,' he granted extra time to sort through the records.

'Let the punishment fit the crime; to err is human, to forgive is divine,' Engoron wrote.

But as the years went by, Engoron—who is known for keeping his cool—became much less willing to play along with what became obvious delay tactics.

Now, the Beast notes:

A source familiar with the inner workings of the investigation said they're now preparing for something of a one-two punch, with Trump's lawyers positioning themselves to argue that Justice Arthur F. Engoron can't possibly be fair and impartial at trial, because he is now a defendant standing opposite the former president in a new ongoing case—never mind that Trump's the one who decided to sue him.

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Additionally, the report notes that "in the months since, Engoron has kept summarily dismissing every legal theory the Trumps have flung at him, firmly rejecting the notion that this was merely a politically driven witch hunt and affirming that the AG did indeed have the authority to pursue this lawsuit."

Brooklyn Law School professor Cynthia Godsoe told the Beast, "You can't claim a conflict if you created one. It's very unlikely that would succeed."

Jayne Ressler, also a Brooklyn Law School professor said of Trump that "He's lost before he started. He'll say he never got a fair shake and this is the perfect excuse. Any regular individual would do the opposite. But this is Trump. When the coffin is closed, he drills a hole. He's literally cornered, so he might create a political ploy. So now, when he loses, this is his out."

The Beast notes:

The Trumps appear to have scored something of a victory this summer, when the First Department appellate court agreed that some business deals might be too old for the AG to include in this lawsuit and instructed Engoron to draw a cutoff. The judge hasn’t done that yet and was expected to do so in the coming weeks, but the Trump lawyers jumped the gun—asking for a three-week delay in the trial and an immediate cutoff clarification from Engoron. When he rejected that too, lawyers on Thursday made the surprise move of filing what's called an 'Article 78' petition against Engoron himself.

"Does this Article 78 seem to be premature? Yes," Diane Peress, an ex-prosecutor in the New York AG's office said. "It's kind of transparent that they’re asking this as they ask for a three-week delay. It's like, 'That didn’t work, so let's throw a wrench in the machinery."

She emphasized that "the decision to target Engoron this way is nothing more than a political gambit—and an empty one at that."

READ MORE: Letitia James’ $250 million fraud case against Trump set for trial: report

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

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