Judge Arthur Engoron has reversed his decision to allow former President Donald Trump to deliver a closing statement in the ongoing civil trial initiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump and his business entities. This reversal marks a crucial turn in the legal proceedings.
On Wednesday, Judge Engoron retracted his previous consent, which would have permitted Trump to articulate his closing remarks during the Thursday session. The judge had initially approved Trump’s request to personally address the court, with the stipulation that Trump’s commentary be confined to discussing the relevant and established facts of the case and their legal implications. Engoron explicitly prohibited Trump from introducing new evidence, veering into unrelated topics, engaging in political rhetoric, or disparaging the attorney general and court staff.
In a response to Judge Engoron, Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, argued that his client had been unfairly maligned by a “politically motivated Attorney General” and warranted the opportunity to address essential matters. Kise also sought to delay the closing arguments due to the passing of Trump’s mother-in-law, Amalija Knavs, emphasizing Trump’s close bond with her. The death was announced publicly by Melania Trump, the former first lady.
Despite expressing his condolences, Judge Engoron declined the request for delay. He also set a firm deadline for Kise to confirm Trump’s adherence to the guidelines for delivering closing remarks. After Kise missed this deadline, Engoron concluded that Trump would not comply with the established conditions and therefore would not be permitted to speak in court.
Judge Engoron is overseeing the trial, which is rooted in allegations made by James against Trump, his family, and their businesses, involving accusations of bank fraud and inflating financial statements. Speaking to Fox News Digital, a representative for Trump highlighted that the case was filed under a statute that precludes a jury trial, expressing regret that a jury would not be able to assess and presumably dismiss the claims of wrongdoing.
Throughout the trial, Trump and his family have maintained their innocence. Trump has repeatedly asserted that his financial disclosures were conservative estimates and emphasized that they included disclaimers for financial institutions to independently verify the figures.