Judge Arthur Engoron vows to probe possible perjury in Trump civil fraud trial
Having already courted controversy for his handling of former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York over the past several months, Judge Arthur Engoron is making headlines once again for stating his intention to review whether a witness in the case lied during testimony, as the Washington Times reports.
Engoron cited as a basis for his emergent concerns and his request for comment from Trump's legal team a New York Times article that referenced possible perjury plea talks between prosecutors and Allen Weisselberg, former Trump Organization CFO and the witness at issue.
Trump lawyers protest
As NBC News reported, Trump attorneys responded to Engoron's demands by calling the move “unprecedented, inappropriate and troubling” and expressed their opposition to his use of the Times piece as a basis for any formal action in the case.
“The Article simply does not provide any principled basis for the Court to reopen the record or question the veracity of Mr. Weisselberg's testimony in this case,” attorney Clifford Robert said.
Trump attorney Christopher Kise added in a statement of his own that “court decisions are supposed to be made based on the evidence at trial, not on media speculation.”
Engoron hits back
In response to those objections, Engoron fired back, saying, “Arguing against judicial notice is attacking a straw person, as I have not taken, do not plan to take, and did not suggest or hint that I would take judicial notice of the subject New York Times article or the contents thereof.”
Engoron continued, “However, if tomorrow, Mr. Weisselberg publicly confesses to having committed perjury about a significant matter in the case before me, or if he pleads guilty to such perjury at any time before I issue my final decision, I will research and consider what the law allows.”
“I take seriously my obligation to find the facts and determine the truth,” he concluded.
Decision expected imminently
Though Engoron has already rule on the question of liability in the high-stakes trial involving allegations of inflated real estate valuations, his decision on sanctions to be applied in the case remains unknown.
While a ruling was previously expected around the first of the year, it did not materialize, and it is therefore expected to be issued any day now, as Reuters reports.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has requested the imposition of as much as $370 million in fines against Trump and his enterprises in the state as well as the revocation of his ability to continue doing business in the Empire State, despite the highly unusual – and frequently questioned – nature of the claims and the manner in which the trial has proceeded.
The attorney general's office, for its part, has argued to Engoron that any developments related to Weisselberg should not play any role in delaying the issuance of his decision in the case.