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Judge Aileen Cannon again hands former President Donald Trump’s legal team a partial victory. Trump drops lawsuits against Arthur Engoron, the judge in the civil financial fraud case, as well as his former lawyer Michael Cohen, a key witness in multiple cases.
Judge pauses pretrial deadlines as she considers Trump's request to delay trial until after 2024 election
Cannon issued a ruling Friday temporarily delaying a previously set schedule of deadlines stretching from October through May for the Justice Department to make classified documents available to Trump’s lawyers and for the defense team to have time to review them, the Messenger reported.
Smith has charged Trump with mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House and obstructing the government’s attempts to retrieve them.
The indefinite delay comes after Trump lawyers on Wednesday requested that Cannon push back the start date for the trial until after the 2024 presidential election.
Cannon has yet to rule on Trump’s motion to move back the trial, but her order on Friday would appear to make it less likely that the trial would begin on the scheduled date of May 20, 2024.
Why it matters: If Trump succeeds in pushing back the trial and also manages to win reelection in 2024, critics fear that he will simply attempt to pardon himself if found guilty of the felony charges Smith has brought against him.
New York financial fraud
Trump drops lawsuit against judge, but moves to appeal his fraud ruling
On day five of Trump’s New York trial to decide the punishment he, his adult sons and his family business must pay after Engoron found them liable for inflating their assets to obtain favorable bank and insurance rates, Trump dropped his lawsuit against the judge handling the case, the Daily Beast reported.
Trump filed suit against Engoron last month, saying the judge ignored appeals court rulings and was biased against him. Critics saw the lawsuit as yet another attempt to delay the case from moving forward.
Kise, meanwhile, was not in Engoron’s courtroom early Friday. Instead, he was filing what was later ruled an unsuccessful appeal of the judge’s fraud ruling.
On Thursday, Engoron set a deadline to ensure Trump complied with his order to dissolve his New York businesses.
Why it matters: Trump’s lawyers have sued prosecutors, judges and witnesses in the many cases in which the former president is a defendant and they are perfectly within their rights to do so. Their bid to overturn Engoron’s ruling was denied Friday, but the appellate court did allow Trump to retain control of his real estate holdings for the moment, the Associated Press reported.
Trump drops $500 million lawsuit against Michael Cohen — for now
Key player: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen
In a one-page court filing Thursday, lawyers for Trump announced they were dropping a $500 million lawsuit they had filed against Cohen, AFP reported.
"President Trump has decided to temporarily pause his meritorious claims against Michael Cohen,” the filing stated. “Once President Trump has prevailed in dealing with the witch hunts against him, he will continue to pursue his claims against Michael Cohen, who rightfully deserves to, and will be held accountable for his unlawful words and actions."
In response to the filing, Cohen said, "This case was nothing more than a retaliatory intimidation tactic, and his attempt to hide from routine discovery procedures confirms as much."
Trump had been scheduled to be deposed next week by Cohen’s lawyers in the case but cited conflicts arising from his civil fraud trial in New York and presidential campaign events.
Cohen’s court testimony will play a central role in the civil fraud trial as well as the criminal hush money case in New York.
Cohen served a three-year sentence on campaign finance, tax evasion and other charges from when he worked as Trump’s lawyer and fixer.
Why it matters: The events packing Trump’s legal and political calendar have become so numerous that it has become difficult for the former president to juggle them.
Thursday, Oct. 5
Judge Arthur Engoron issues an order meant to keep former President Donald Trump, his adult sons and business from avoiding punishment for fraud in New York. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers file a slew of motions to dismiss or delay criminal cases against him.
New York financial fraud
Judge sets Oct. 26 deadline on plan for dissolution of Trump’s New York companies
On day four of the civil trial to decide the penalties Trump, his adult sons and the Trump Organization must pay after being found liable for fraud, Engoron issued a ruling to ensure that the defendants comply with his order to dissolve their New York businesses, the Daily Beast reported.
In Wednesday’s order, Engoron directed Trump’s lawyers and James to submit suggestions for the appointment of an independent receiver to oversee the shuttering of the Trump family’s New York businesses by Oct. 26.
His order also directs Trump, his adult sons and two top executives at the Trump Org. to inform the court about the creation of any new business entities and the transfer of assets.
Trump has already filed an appeal of Engoron’s decision that would effectively spell the end of his ability to conduct business in New York.
Why it matters: Engoron’s ruling is designed to preempt Trump from making secret transactions to skirt the court’s punishment for being found liable for years of financial fraud.
Jan. 6 election interference
Trump lawyers seek dismissal of federal election inference charges
In a motion filed Thursday, Trump’s lawyers said Chutkan should dismiss all charges related to his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election because he was president when he undertook them, the Associated Press reported.
“Breaking 234 years of precedent, the incumbent administration has charged President Trump for acts that lie not just within the ‘outer perimeter,’ but at the heart of his official responsibilities as President,” the long-shot motion states.
Trump has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
In his indictment, Smith said that while political candidates are fully within their rights to challenge the results of an election, Trump’s actions clearly overstepped those bounds and constituted criminal acts.
Why it matters: Trump has already lost many court challenges that have attempted to shield his communications with staff members based on claims of executive privilege. If he were successful with this motion, the judge’s ruling would appear to all but erase any limits on the ability to find a president guilty of having committed a crime.
New York hush money
Trump asks judge to dismiss hush money charges
Trump’s lawyers argued in a filing this week that Merchan should dismiss the 34 felony charges against Trump because Bragg waited to file his indictment until after Trump had declared his candidacy for president, CNN reported.
“The indictment was filed six years after the conduct at issue, more than four-and-a-half years after DANY [District Attorney of New York] began to investigate it, and more than three years after DANY started presenting evidence to a grand jury,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing, adding, “The delay has prejudiced President Trump, interfered with his ongoing presidential campaign, and violated his due process rights.”
In March, Trump was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stemming from his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors allege that the sum was paid to hide an extramarital affair from becoming public during the 2016 presidential election.
In social media posts, Trump often tries to make the case that the four criminal prosecutions against him are simply a ruse to keep him from winning reelection.
Why it matters: Seen as another long-shot, Trump’s legal filing would, if successful, dash the criminal case against him in New York before it is scheduled to begin, on March 24, 2024.
Trump asks judge to delay documents trial until after 2024 election
In a motion filed late Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers asked Cannon to delay the start of the trial on felony charges stemming from his mishandling of classified documents until after the 2024 presidential election, the Associated Press reported.
The case is currently scheduled to begin in Florida on May 20, 2024, but lawyers for the former president, who faces four overlapping criminal trials, said scheduling conflicts made that date impossible.
Kise and Blanche also said in the filing that prosecutors had yet to provide them with documents to review for their defense of Trump.
The Department of Justice says it has provided 1.28 million pages of documents to date. Last week, Smith’s team said in its own filing that they would make available most of the remaining classified documents to Trump’s lawyers by Friday.
Cannon, a Trump appointee, has raised eyebrows with what critics say are pro-Trump rulings in the case so far.
Why it matters: The pattern of attempting to delay the start of criminal trials until after the election could complicate holding Trump accountable if he is found guilty in federal court.
Wednesday, Oct. 4
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump file an appeal of a judge’s ruling that found him liable for financial fraud. Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis seeks a March 4 start date for the election interference trial and Rudy Giuliani files a defamation lawsuit against President Biden.
New York financial fraud trial
Trump files appeal of judge’s ruling finding him liable for fraud
As the third day of Trump’s New York civil trial got underway Wednesday to determine the penalties the former president, his adult sons and their family business must pay for illegally inflating their assets, Trump’s lawyers filed an appeal of Engoron’s summary judgment ruling, Reuters reported.
On Sept. 26, Engoron sided with James, ruling that there was “conclusive evidence” that Trump had inflated his assets by as much as $2.2 billion in order to obtain favorable bank and insurance rates.
In their notice of appeal, Trump’s lawyers stated that they were contesting “each and every part” of Engoron’s ruling.
As Wednesday’s court proceedings broke for lunch, Trump again attacked Engoron, saying he “already knows what he’s going to do” in the case and is “run by the Democrats.”
Why it matters: James is seeking at least $250 million in damages from Trump, his sons and their business, as well as an order that would prevent the Trump Organization from conducting business in New York. If the appeal of Engoron’s ruling is successful, it could wipe away all of those possible penalties.
Georgia election interference
Willis proposes March 4 start date for Trump’s Georgia trial
In a court filing Wednesday, Willis proposed a March 4 start date for the sprawling election interference trial of Trump and 16 others, NBC News reported.
“In light of Defendant Donald John Trump’s other criminal and civil matters pending in the courts of our sister sovereigns, the State of Georgia proposes certain deadlines that do not conflict with these other courts’ already-scheduled hearings and trial dates,” Willis wrote.
Two of the defendants, Chesebro and Powell, will go on trial on Oct. 23.
Ultimately, it will be up to McAfee to decide when the Georgia trial will begin.
Why it matters: Trump’s lawyers have sought to push the start of the trial back after the 2024 presidential election. Willis was unsuccessful in her bid to have all of the defendants tried starting on Oct. 23. With two other criminal cases and two civil ones set to take place as the presidential primary gets underway, Trump’s legal calendar will be incredibly crowded.
As his legal bills mount, Giuliani files defamation lawsuit against Biden
Key players: Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, President Biden, Giuliani lawyer William O’Brien
Faced with mounting legal bills stemming from his efforts to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia and other states, Giuliani has filed a civil defamation lawsuit against Biden, the Hill reported.
In a 16-page complaint filed in New Hampshire, O’Brien cited remarks Biden made in a 2020 presidential debate with Trump in which he referred to Giuliani as a “Russian pawn,” in a suit that seeks unspecified financial damages.
In the debate, Biden said, “[Trump’s] own national security adviser told him that what is happening with his buddy, Rudy Giuliani, he’s being used as a Russian pawn; he’s being fed information that is Russian, that is not true.”
Why it matters: In addition to the legal bills he is racking up having to defend himself in Georgia, the loss of a second lawyer in that case, and a lawsuit filed by Hunter Biden, Giuliani is being sued by his own former lawyer for $1.36 million in unpaid legal bills.
Tuesday, Oct. 3
The judge in the New York financial fraud trial against former President Donald Trump issues a partial gag order on the former president. The judge also clarifies remarks he made Monday about the statute of limitations in the case. Trump, meanwhile, says he will take the witness stand “at the appropriate time.”
New York financial fraud trial
Judge issues gag order after Trump attacks his clerk on social media
Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron
Engoron told Trump and his lawyers Tuesday that he was issuing a “gag order for all parties from posting about any members of my staff,” after the former president attacked Engoron’s clerk in a social media post, the Associated Press reported.
“Personal attacks on members on my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I won’t tolerate it,” Engoron said.
Before the lunch break on the second day of his financial fraud trial, Trump posted an inaccurate claim made on a satirical website that Engoron’s clerk was Sen. Majority Leader Chuck “Schumer’s girlfriend.”
Why it matters: Trump’s attacks on judges, witnesses and prosecutors have increased calls for gag orders to be placed on him during the legal proceedings. Engoron’s is the first to be issued.
Engoron refutes Trump’s claim that 80% of the charges against him will be thrown out
Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron
Engoron clarified a remark he made Monday regarding testimony about 2011 financial statements being introduced by prosecutors being a “waste of time,” ABC News reported.
An appeals court has ruled that 2014 is the end date for the statute of limitations for the financial crimes Trump, his adult sons and family business are accused of committing, and Trump’s lawyers are seeking to have the judge toss out allegations made for anything earlier.
Lawyers with James’s office, however, are making the case that Trump used inaccurate 2011 financial statements after 2014 to obtain more favorable loan and insurance rates.
“I trust that you can relate the 2011 documents to something that happened later,” Engoron told prosecutors on Monday. “Or this has all been a waste of time.”
At the conclusion of Monday’s proceedings, Trump told reporters that Engoron had effectively indicated that the statute of limitations meant he “would kick out 80% of this case.”
“It was a great credit to the court that the judge was willing to do this sort of overruled himself and I greatly respect that,” Trump said.
In fact, Trump stripped Engoron’s remarks of their context.
“Every use of false financial statements in business starts the statute of limitations running again,” Engoron clarified Tuesday. “I understand that the defendants strongly disagree with this and will appeal on those grounds.”
Why it matters: In part, Trump has attended the trial to address the media during breaks to put forth his interpretation of the case against him. As Engoron’s message at the start of the second day indicates, Trump’s declarations should be taken with a grain of salt.
Trump says he will testify ‘at the appropriate time’
Key players: New York Attorney General Letitia James
During a break in day two of Trump’s $250 million financial fraud trial, the former president was asked if he planned to testify in the case, the Telegraph reported.
“Yes, I will. At the appropriate time I will be,” Trump responded.
James has indicated that she plans to call Trump and his adult sons as witnesses, as have Trump’s own lawyers.
Why it matters: Engoron has indicated that the trial will last until the end of December. There is no indication yet when James may call Trump to take the witness stand and whether he will agree to answer questions or simply invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Monday, Oct. 2
Former President Donald Trump’s civil financial fraud trial gets underway in New York. The U.S. Supreme Court — minus Justice Clarence Thomas, who recused himself — refuses to hear an appeal filed by lawyer John Eastman about shielding emails he sent to Trump. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis subpoenas Bernard Kerik to testify in the case against Trump and 18 others.
Jan. 6 election interference
Supreme Court rejects Eastman appeal — and Thomas recuses himself
On Monday, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Eastman, who sought to block Congress from obtaining 10 emails he sent to Trump about overturning the results of the 2020 election, Reuters reported.
The emails were handed over to the House committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol, but Eastman’s lawyers argued that they were protected by attorney-client privilege.
In 2020, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter ruled that the emails were not protected by attorney-client privilege because they were likely used in furtherance of a crime.
Thomas, for whom Eastman worked as a clerk, recused himself from the case.
Why it matters: Eastman has been charged with multiple felonies related to his efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia and could yet face federal charges. Legal challenges attempting to shield Trump’s communications regarding the 2020 election plot have largely failed. Given the extensive efforts by Thomas’s wife, Ginni, to challenge the election results, this may not be the last case in which he will face calls to recuse himself.
New York financial fraud civil trial
Prosecutors: Trump gained $1B by lying to banks and insurers about the value of his assets
On the first day of the New York trial to decide how much Trump, his adult sons and his business will have to pay in damages after being found liable for years of financial fraud, prosecutors said Trump had gained $1 billion by inflating his assets in order to obtain favorable loans and insurance rates, the Telegraph reported.
“This isn’t business as usual, and this isn’t how sophisticated parties deal with each other,” Wallace said. “These are not victimless crimes.”
Kise countered by saying, “There were no unjust profits, and there were no victims.”
James, Trump and his son Eric all attended the trial. Asked why he had come even though he was not legally required to, Trump quipped, “Because I want to watch this witch hunt myself.”
Trump also tore into Engoron, calling him a “Democrat operative” and a “disgrace.”
Why it matters: Engoron will alone decide the amount of damages Trump, his sons and business will have to pay for illegally inflating their assets on loan and insurance forms.
Georgia election interference
Willis subpoenas Kerik to testify
Willis has issued a subpoena to Kerik, seeking his testimony in the case against Trump and 18 others accused of attempting to illegally overturn the election results in Georgia, CNN reported.
Kerik is an unnamed co-conspirator in the case. He took part in meetings with officials from other battleground states that Trump lost in 2020 to devise a strategy for contesting those results.
In response to Willis, Parlatore said that no “competent criminal attorney would allow Mr. Kerik to testify absent a grant of immunity.”
Short of being given immunity, Kerik will plead the Fifth Amendment on the witness stand, Parlatore added.
Why it matters: On Friday, bail bondsman Scott Hall became the first defendant in the Georgia case to cut a plea deal with prosecutors. Kerik has not been charged in Georgia, however, so it remains to be seen if Willis will agree to offer him immunity in exchange for his testimony.