Trump Can’t Deliver Closing Argument in Fraud Trial, Judge Says

judge engoron trump closing arguments

The former president reportedly wanted to defend himself as his New York fraud trial wraps up this week

It looks like Donald Trump won’t deliver the closing argument in his New York fraud trial, after all.

Judge Arthur Engoron on Wednesday rescinded his decision to let the former president defend himself as the trial begins to wrap up on Thursday. The reversal came Trump’s lawyers wouldn’t agree to restrict their client’s defense to “relevant” and “material” matters. ABC News was the first to report on Tuesday that Trump wanted to personally deliver his closing argument, which certainly would have resembled a live performance of his incessant social media posts railing against the case.

Engoron has already ruled that Trump is liable for financial fraud in the civil suit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). The trial to determine his punishment has been a circus, with Trump repeatedly attacking those involved (and their families) as corrupt, both online and in person. Engoron imposed a gag order on Trump last year after Trump attacked his clerk, which the former president has violated on multiple occasions.

Trump’s punishment could be hefty. James filed a brief ahead of this week’s closing arguments asking Engoron to fine Trump to the tune of $370 million, and for Trump and two of his associates to be barred for life from conducting business in New York. The former president and his sons Eric and Don Jr. are accused of perpetrating a wide-reaching scheme to manipulate the value of the Trump Organization’s assets in order to secure more favorable loan agreements. Engoron found Trump liable for fraud in September, and Trump has repeatedly alleged the ruling and ensuing trial are part of a vast Democratic conspiracy to prevent him from winning back the White House.

Trump’s lawyers were not happy with Engoron’s move to prevent Trump from launching into a conspiracy-laden rant on Thursday, with defense attorney Christopher Kise calling the move “fraught with ambiguities, creating the substantial likelihood for misinterpretation or an unintended violation.” Engoron initially agreed to let Trump defend himself, but changed his mind after Trump’s team didn’t agree to his terms by noon on Wednesday, per the Associated Press.


Engoron’s fear that Trump would veer off topic is understandable. The former president testified in the trial in November, but was so unruly that the judge was forced to reprimand his team. “I beseech you to control him if you can,” Engoron said. “If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”

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