The highly controversial judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil trial in Manhattan has issued a highly criticized order that prevents the former president from managing an aspect of his own finances.
Judge Arthur Engoron on Thursday ruled that Trump cannot privately or secretly transfer money to protect his wealth during the trial, according to Newsweek.
Engoron angrily demanded that all defendants in the case disclose their current ownership of and any third parties’ interests in the various businesses and organizations they control. There are other situations where forewarning is required, such as “the creation of a new entity” or “any anticipated transfer of assets or liabilities to any other entities.”
Former federal judge Barbara Jones, the court-appointed monitor, asked for full disclosure of The Trump Organization’s financials involving Trump himself, his two oldest sons Donald Jr. and Eric, former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg, and Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney within one week, the report said.
The order was issued before Trump’s civil trial in Manhattan entered its fourth day. Prosecutors have already convinced Engoron that there is “conclusive evidence” Trump exaggerated his assets and that the Trump Organization lost its business certification.
Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, is demanding $250 million in damages from Trump in addition to a ban on the president and his two sons doing business in New York.
Former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe argued that Engoron’s order is the “logical next step” in the court proceedings since officials will soon be appointed to monitor the financial activity and possible dissolution of the business entities involved in the case.
McAuliffe also argued that the order demonstrates why the former president cannot simply ignore the myriad of legal challenges he faces as the 2024 election approaches.
“The court’s supplemental order reflects why the Trump family defendants have good reason to fear the civil fraud lawsuit and the ongoing trial,” he told Newsweek.
Some have suggested that Trump may have tried to transfer ownership of his businesses, temporarily, to his wife, former first lady Melania Trump.
However, according to Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s former chief of staff, Melania is unlikely to do so unless she is “granted some major control or power.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Engoron exhibited more bizarre behavior during a court session, launching a mini tirade at the former president’s legal team.
At one point, he slammed a hand down on his table during a cross-examination of a witness after he obviously grew annoyed at the line of questioning, according to the New York Post.
Trump’s lawyers were getting very technical with Mazars USA partner David Bender when Engoron exclaimed, “This is ridiculous!” after the president’s attorneys accused Bender of refusing to answer questions.
“Don’t waste time,” he added as Trump’s attorneys tried arguing that they had to go through their client’s records “year by year” with the witness.
Trump’s attorneys had already spent “part of Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday morning” parsing Bender’s testimony, The Post noted. When they advised that he would remain on the stand for the rest of the day, that’s when Engoron lost his temper.
“This is ridiculous!” he said, adding: “Mr. Bender isn’t on trial here.”
“We need to be allowed to parse the evidence,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise argued in response, according to The Post. “We didn’t bring this case.”
“We haven’t got one answer from him,” another Trump attorney, Alina Habba, added. “He has no memory as we sit here.”
At one point, Kise agreed “to streamline” the questioning, which led Engoron to respond, “Let’s not waste time.”
Engoron indicated that Trump’s legal team appeared to be employing courtroom theatrics designed to make an impact on a jury or possibly the media but that these tactics were not conducive to a bench trial where the judge alone would make the ultimate decision.
“There is no jury here,” he told the Trump team at least once, according to the report. He then asked: “Who are you talking to — me, the press or the audience?”