New Order in Trump’s Case: Is Justice Engoron Giving Him a Breather?

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, overseeing a case that will decide the future of ex-President Donald Trump’s business ventures and properties, has issued a fresh directive. This order mandates that Trump and the other defendants inform the court’s neutral monitor before moving assets or establishing a new entity. This includes applying for a new business license outside of New York.

Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Trump, alleging that he exaggerated his net worth to secure better terms from insurance companies and banks. She is pursuing $250 million in fines and aims to prohibit the former president and his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., from conducting business in New York.

On September 26, Justice Engoron delivered a pretrial summary judgment, deeming Trump accountable for fraud. The trial commenced on October 2. Prosecutors are now tasked with substantiating their allegations on six counts. Following this, the judge will determine the penalties to be imposed.

In line with the summary judgment, Justice Engoron nullified all business licenses owned by Trump, his adult sons, and ex-Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney. McConney is anticipated to testify soon. Both sides were also instructed to propose names of neutral receivers to oversee the dissolution of the various LLCs under the Trump Organization.

By October 5, the defendants must supply the neutral monitor, ex-judge Barbara Jones, with a comprehensive list of all entities they oversee and possess, along with other pertinent details about these entities. The deadline to submit the list of neutral receivers has been extended to October 26, which is beyond the original 10-day timeframe after September 26.

The judge’s initial directive led to confusion. Trump’s legal team inquired about the implications for properties like Trump Tower and the residential homes of Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., which LLCs also govern under the Trump Organization. Justice Engoron stated that he was not ready to make an immediate decision on the matter but would finalize the specifics as the trial progressed.

The recent order wasn’t discussed in court. The trial continued with Donald Bender, the prosecution’s initial witness, sharing his testimony.
Bender, previously affiliated with Mazars USA, managed Trump’s personal tax filings from 2009 to 2018. Between 2011 and 2012, he collaborated extensively with the Trump Organization. He was responsible for the financial statements that formed the basis of the lawsuit against Trump.

During his testimony, Bender revealed that he would use data from Trump Organization officials. He confirmed documents highlighting the Trump Organization’s obligation to ensure accurate accounting. The defense began cross-examining Bender on Wednesday, but the judge urged them to hasten the process.

Camron Harris, an audit partner at Whitley Penn, succeeded Bender. Harris testified similarly, emphasizing the Trump Organization’s accountability for the accuracy of the numbers, as documented in communications from the organization’s CFO, Mr. Weisselberg, also a defendant.

Trump caught the attention of many when he made an appearance at his trial, addressing the media extensively. He left the trial early on Wednesday and hasn’t returned since. Trump advised the press that he preferred campaigning to attending the trial, “I’m here, stuck here, and I can’t campaign,” he said. He also criticized the proceedings and emphasized his desire to expose perceived corruption to the media.