House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik on Friday filed an ethics complaint calling for the removal of a judge presiding over the $250 million business fraud trial of former President Donald Trump.
The No. 3 House Republican and one of Trump’s most loyal allies in the House, Stefanik claimed in her complaint that Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron had shown “clear judicial bias” against the former president and displayed “bizarre behavior” during his high-profile civil trial.
Stefanik, whose congressional district covers northeast New York, urged the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct to “take corrective action to restore a just process and protect our constitutional rights.”
Stefanik also wrote that Engoron “must recuse from this case,” although the commission does not have the authority to remove specific judges.
The complaint is a remarkable step by Trump’s political allies in Washington to join his aggressive efforts to undermine Engoron, whose rulings in the case could strike a major blow to the ex-president and his business empire.
The letter from Stefanik, who is not a lawyer and is unrelated to the case, could also be aimed to help Trump in a possible appeal of Engoron’s eventual rulings.
It comes after a week of testimony in the trial by members of the Trump family that some legal experts say did little to help their case.
The case will settle claims brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who accuses Trump, his two adult sons, his company and some of its top executives of fraudulently inflating the values of Trump’s assets to boost his net worth and rake in financial benefits.
Engoron will deliver verdicts in the no-jury trial, because neither side requested a jury trial ahead of time.
Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud. The trial itself will determine how much the defendants will be ordered to pay in damages or other penalties. The judge will also evaluate six other claims in James’ lawsuit that have yet to be resolved.
In addition to seeking around $250 million in damages, James wants to permanently bar Trump Sr., Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump from running a New York business.
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