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Judge rejects Trump motion for mistrial in New York fraud case

The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump's New York fraud case rejected a motion on Friday seeking to have a mistrial declared.

Trump's attorneys made the request on Thursday, claiming Judge Arthur Engoron and his law clerk had displayed bias and that he conferred with her so much it was as if they were "co-judging" the case. Engoron explicitly denied that claim on Friday, and called the motion "without merit."

"My rulings are mine, and mine alone. There is absolutely no 'co-judging' at play," Engoron wrote. The judge and his clerk, Allison Greenfield, have been the subject of fierce criticism by Trump and his lawyers, who claim they have overwhelmingly favored New York Attorney General Letitia James' side in the case. 

Former President Donald Trump clashes with judge in New York fraud trial 04:43

The trial, which began Oct. 2 and is expected to last into December, stems from a September 2022 lawsuit in which James' office alleges that Trump, two of his sons and their company engaged in a decade of fraud tied to Trump's financial statements. James is seeking $250 million for the state and additional penalties that would restrict the defendants' ability to do business in New York. 

Engoron found the defendants liable for fraud in a pretrial ruling. The trial is proceeding on other allegations related to falsification of business records, conspiracy and insurance fraud and the appropriate damages and penalties to be imposed.

Judge Engoron ruled that Trump and his campaign twice violated a limited gag order the judge put in place Oct. 3, after Trump posted a derogatory statement on social media about Greenfield. He's been ordered to pay $15,000 in fines related to the gag order violations.

In the motion for a mistrial, the Trump attorneys complained that Engoron consulted too frequently with Greenfield. Trump's attorneys announced plans to file it the day he testified in the case on Nov. 6, capping off an intense day of examination in which Trump — who has frequently criticized Judge Engoron and his clerk — even lashed out at the judge from the witness stand, pointing at him and calling him a "fraud."

In the filing, Trump's attorneys claim that "the Court has abrogated its constitutional responsibility to ensure each Defendant, including President Trump, receives a fair trial free from even the appearance of impropriety and impartiality."

Engoron wrote that he has an "absolute unfettered right to consult with my law clerks in any way, shape, or form I choose."

The attorney general had proposed a briefing schedule to address the mistrial motion, but Engoron ruled that was unnecessary, calling the motion itself "without merit" and writing "subsequent briefing would therefore be futile."

Trump legal spokesperson Alina Habba said, "As expected, today the Court refused to take responsibility for its failure to preside over this case in an impartial and unbiased manner. We, however, remain undeterred and will continue to fight for our clients' right to a fair trial."

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