N.Y. high court denies Donald Trump's bid for expedited review of gag order in fraud trial

A bid by attorneys for former President Donald Trump for a quick high court review of a gag order imposed on him by the judge in his New York civil fraud trial was denied on Monday. File Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI
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Dec. 4 (UPI) -- The state of New York's highest court on Monday denied a bid by former President Donald Trump to fast-track his appeal of a gag order as defense testimony resumed in his $250 million civil fraud trial.

Trump's lawyers began the day Monday with a filing urging New York's Court of Appeals to grant an expedited review of his request to vacate a ruling by a panel of state appellate court judges upholding a gag order imposed on the former president by trial Judge Arthur Engoron.

Trump is scheduled to take the stand in his own defense on Dec. 11, spurring his legal team to have the gag order lifted before then.

In seeking the fast-tracked high court review, Trump attorney Clifford Robert argued as he has in earlier filings his client is suffering "irreparable injury daily" and is being "silenced on matters implicating the appearance of bias and impropriety on the bench" due to the gag order, which was initially imposed by Engoron on Oct. 3, the second day of the trial.

He slapped the order on Trump after the former president posted social media comments disparaging the judge's law clerk, which court officials say spurred hundreds of threats and anti-Semitic vitriol directed toward the court and its officers from Trump's supporters.

The appeals court last month temporarily lifted the gag orders and sanctions barring Trump from attacking Engoron's law clerk Allison Greenfield.

His bid for an expedited hearing, however, was rejected by high court officials later on Monday, Courthouse News and ABC News reported, meaning the gag order will still be effective when Trump takes the stand next week.

Meanwhile, defense testimony resumed Monday with a real estate expert called by Trump's attorneys.

The former president and his family are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of vastly inflating the values of their properties in a decades-long scheme to defraud banks and investors. She is seeking at least $250 million in restitution.

Engoron ruled in September during the first phase of the trial that Trump indeed fraudulently inflated the values of his real estate properties, granting a partial summary judgement in the case to James.

Real estate appraiser Frederick Chin testified Monday that Trump's valuations were not necessarily fraudulent because developers can take many factors into account when determining a property's worth, including their value of their own reputations -- the so-called "genius factor," ABC News reported.

Upon cross-examination by prosecutors, however, Chin agreed that Trump's valuation of a mansion and surrounding properties in Westchester County, N.Y., was neither "reasonable" or "proper," according to Courthouse News.

James alleges bogus valuations of the "Seven Springs" property were used by Trump to claim an apparent $21 million tax deduction and to improperly inflate his net worth. She said Trump bought the property for $7.5 million in 1996, but by 2012 had valued it $291 million.