Trump fraud trial: Trump loses bid to throw out limited gag orders, fines


Donald Trump appears to be out of options to appeal the limited gag orders in his civil fraud trial, with his own lawyer describing his options as “procedural purgatory.”

In addition to Thursday morning’s appellate decision denying Trump’s appeal, a panel of appellate judges issued an additional order Thursday denying his request to elevate his appeal to New York’s highest court.

The decision forces Trump back to Step 1: asking Judge Arthur Engoron to vacate the gag orders, then appealing the judge’s likely denial.

But the timeline for that process is unlikely to work in Trump’s favor, with the evidentiary portion of the trial having concluded Wednesday and closing arguments scheduled for Jan. 11.

“We filed the petition because the ordinary appellate process is essentially pointless in this context as it cannot possibly be completed in time to reverse the ongoing harm,” Trump attorney Chris Kise told ABC News in a statement regarding the gag orders, which prohibit Trump and attorneys from commenting on the judge’s staff.

“Unfortunately, the decision denies President Trump the only path available to expedited relief and places his fundamental Constitutional rights in a procedural purgatory,” Kise said.

Donald Trump has lost his appeal to throw out the limited gag orders and associated fines in his civil fraud trial.

In a decision Thursday, New York’s Appellate Division, First Department rejected Trump’s request to annul and vacate the limited gag orders imposed by Judge Arthur Engoron that prohibit Trump and attorneys from commenting on the judge’s staff.

In November, Trump’s lawyers asked the Appellate Division to vacate the gag orders, citing a provision of New York state law to personally sue Judge Engoron. But the court said in today’s ruling that the method used to appeal the gag orders was an improper application of the law.

“To the extent there may have been appealable issues with respect to any of the procedures the court implemented in imposing the financial sanctions, the proper method of review would be to move to vacate the Contempt Orders, and then to take an appeal from the denial of those motions,” the ruling said, indicating that Trump should use the normal appellate process to pursue the vacating of the gag orders.

The court also determined that the “extraordinary remedy” requested by Trump’s lawyers did not match the minimal potential harm from barring statements about Engoron’s staff.

“Here, the gravity of potential harm is small, given that the Gag Order is narrow, limited to prohibiting solely statements regarding the court’s staff,” the decision said.

Donald Trump’s defense attorneys ended where they started, denouncing the former president’s civil fraud trial following the conclusion of court today.

“I feel exactly like I did before, three years ago. This case was a joke. We wasted three months,” Trump’s legal spokesperson Alina Habba told reporters.

Habba, however, acknowledged Trump’s unlikely chance of success in the trial while thanking Trump’s team of lawyers.

“I think they did an amazing job in a court where we had, frankly, lost before we even got to give any bit of evidence,” Habba said, referring in part to Judge Engoron’s pretrial partial summary judgment against Trump.

Trump attorney Chris Kise said he is optimistic that Trump will be successful in an eventual appeal.

In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that the trial “revealed the full extent” of Trump’s fraud and that she looks forward to closing arguments.

“While the judge already ruled in our favor and found that Donald Trump engaged in years of significant fraud and unjustly enriched himself and his family, this trial revealed the full extent of that fraud — and the defendants’ inability to disprove it. We look forward to presenting our closing argument on January 11,” James said.

The evidentiary portion of former President Trump’s civil fraud trial concluded with a combative cross-examination of the state’s rebuttal expert.

“The People rest,” state attorney Kevin Wallace said after testimony had wrapped up.

During the cross-examination of Cornell accounting professor Eric Lewis, defense attorney Jesus Suarez questioning whether he had “any other real world experience” in accounting other than in the classroom or reviewing documents for court cases. Lewis conceded he did not.

Court will adjourn until Jan. 11, when both sides will present closing arguments after submitting written summations.

Defense attorney Christopher Kise also promised to submit a written argument for a directed verdict that will ask Judge Engoron, for a fifth time, to end the case for lack of evidence. Engoron has not promised to even read such a filing, but said that he “probably” would.

After 11 weeks of heated exchanges, Trump attorney Chris Kise ended on a conciliatory note, thanking the court, the court reporters, and others for their work.

Wallace said it may be their first point of agreement.

Judge Engoron wished everyone happy holidays as he ended the day’s proceedings.


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