By Rob Crilly, Senior US Political Reporter for Dailymail.Com and the Associated Press
16:27 03 November 2023, updated 17:53 03 November 2023
- Christopher Kise said a news report claimed the court official was biased
- When pressed, he said it was published by the far-right website Breitbart
- The confession sparked laughter and outrage in a New York courtroom
Donald Trump’s lawyer clashed in court with the judge overseeing the $250 million fraud case in New York as he threatened to seek a mistrial over allegations of bias against the former president.
But he only managed to make the courtroom laugh.
Before Eric Trump continued to testify Friday morning, Christopher Kise said, “I think the defense is going to have to seriously consider a mistrial.”
He referred to a media report which said the court secretary had been accused of engaging in “partisan political activity”.
“We all have to take this very seriously because the whole world is watching,” he said.
Judge Arthur Engoron gave him summary judgment.
“This is not information, this is an accusation,” he said first. “I don’t know what you’re talking about and I’ll answer later.”
Prosecutor requested more information about the media release.
“I’m not the internet guy. I mean, maybe it’s on Breitbart. It’s on a news channel,” replied Kise.
His reference to a far-right website known for pushing baseless propaganda drew laughter from the public gallery.
Engeron said he would let others decide on Breitbart’s credibility before adding, “It’s a shame you’ve stooped to this level.”
The court has already ruled that Trump and his company inflated the value of assets when they sought loans. The trial, which is expected to last until December, is largely about deciding what punishment they should receive.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking a $250 million fine as well as a ban on Trump and sons Eric and Don Jr. from owning companies in the state.
Trump himself is scheduled to testify on Monday, followed by his daughter Ivanka on Wednesday. She is not a defendant in the case.
Meanwhile, Eric returned for a second day of pointed questions on Friday morning.
The second son of the former US president has testified in a New York court that he knew nothing about the financial valuations of apartment buildings, golf courses and other assets that a judge has already ruled were fraudulently inflated to win favors terms from creditors and insurers.
But emails and other evidence presented during the trial show he was involved in decisions about how to value those properties.
Faced with more such evidence Friday, Eric Trump said he didn’t remember many of those interactions or was only peripherally involved in them while overseeing other aspects of the growing business.
“I pick up my phone at five in the morning and put it down at midnight. I have thousands of calls,” he said with exasperation under questioning by state attorney Andrew Amer.
Engoron earlier rejected Ivanka Trump’s legal maneuver to try to avoid taking the stand at her father’s $250 million fraud trial next week.
The mother-of-three argued that testifying would cause her an “undue hardship” – and noted that next week’s scheduled testimony comes in the middle of the school week.
Judge Arthur Engoron had already ordered Ivanka to testify in the case, although her lawyers asked the appeals court to overturn the ruling.
But he rejected a request by her legal team to delay his decision while she appealed to a higher court.