NY fraud judge rejects Trump's "inappropriate" witness

Donald Trump Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Donald Trump Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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The New York judge presiding over Donald Trump's civil fraud trial denied on Monday the former president's request to call a retired federal judge appointed to monitor and potentially dissolve key Trump businesses as a defense witness, The Messenger reports. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron appointed former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones to act as a court-appointed monitor to watch over the Trump Organization in 2022 ahead of the trial. Trump family lawyer Clifford Robert requested she take to the stand Monday, an ask that Engoron promptly rejected.

“Besides being untimely and inappropriate, Judge Jones and her staff are arms of the court,” Engoron said from the bench, adding that allowing her to testify could raise a conflict of interest. In September, when Engoron issued a ruling dissolving the former president's New York business empire, he assigned Jones to oversee the process of placing Trump's corporations into a receivership. She has previously served as a judge for the Southern District of New York, and state and federal courts in the private sector have sought out her expertise in high-profile cases. In recent years, Jones also acted as a special master in two criminal investigations involving ex-Trump lawyers Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani.

"Since Judge Jones almost certainly wouldn't have done Trump any credit in her testimony—you can read her reports about his noncompliance with financial norms and missing required disclosures—you gotta figure getting this ruling from Engoron was the whole aim of calling her," lawyer Luppe Luppen wrote on X, formerly Twitter. According to Engoron's ruling, Jones, in a report dated Aug. 3, 2023, found that Trump's disclosures had been "incomplete" and that his trust had "not consistently provided" all the required certifications of the financial statements' accuracy.