Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, has filed a judicial ethics complaint against the judge presiding over the New York civil fraud case against Donald Trump, accusing Judge Arthur Engoron of “weaponized lawfare” against the former president and calling on the judge to recuse himself.
Engoron has exhibited “clear judicial bias” against Trump, including by telling Trump’s attorney that the former president is “just a bad guy” whom New York Attorney General Letitia James “should go after,” Stefanik, R-N.Y., said in a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. She said the judge has failed to honor Trump’s due process rights, concerns that she said are exacerbated by the former president’s position as the front-runner for the presidential nomination.
In the $250 million lawsuit, Engoron is presiding over a bench trial, which means the judge will also decide guilt and any applicable fines. James filed the lawsuit last year, alleging that Trump inflated asset prices in order to make money. In the highly consequential lawsuit, Trump gave an irate testimony on Monday. He has been arguing and arguing with the judge for weeks.
A partial gag order was imposed by Engoron on Trump last month following his derogatory remarks to reporters and on social media about a law clerk. He broke the gag order twice and paid a fine. Last Monday, the judge extended the gag order to cover the attorneys for the former president.
“I filed an official judicial complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron for his inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance in New York’s disgraceful lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization,” Stefanik said in a statement to NBC News. “Americans are sick and tired of the blatant corruption by radical Leftist judges in NY. All New Yorkers must speak out against the dangerous weaponized lawfare against President Trump.”
In the letter that accompanied the complaint, Stefanik said that Engoron had unlawfully silenced Trump’s protected political speech, broke political donation laws by contributing money to Democrats as recently as 2018, and disregarded a ruling regarding the proper statute of limitations in the case. She mentioned that Engoron “infamously smiled and posed for the cameras” at the beginning of the trial.
“If Judge Engoron can railroad a billionaire New York businessman, a former President of the United States, and the leading presidential candidate, just imagine what he could do to all New Yorkers,” Stefanik writes. “Judge Engoron’s lawlessness sends an ominous and illegal warning to New York business owners: If New York judges don’t like your politics, they will destroy your business, the livelihood of your employees, and you personally. This Commission cannot let this continue.”
“All Americans, including political opponents, must receive due process and equal protection under our U.S. and New York Constitutions,” Stefanik wrote. “Judge Engoron’s disdain for President Trump and his politics are evident, and the Commission must take corrective action to restore a just process and protect our constitutional rights. Judge Engoron must recuse from this case.”
The American Civil Liberties Union claimed last month that Trump’s First Amendment rights had been violated by the federal court overseeing his criminal prosecution for his attempts to influence the 2020 election by imposing a gag order.
Stefanik, a close supporter of the outgoing president, was the first member of the Republican leadership to support Trump’s campaign for reelection. Stefanik, the leading Republican from New York in the House, is suing Governor Kathy Hochul for expanding the ability to vote by mail.
With the criminal case in New York and the civil litigation in Georgia, Florida, Manhattan, and Washington, D.C., Trump has a busy trial calendar. The testimony of four Trump family members—including Trump himself—in the New York case may seriously harm their company.
Using “Valuations so LOW that they are Fraudulent,” Trump unleashed a social media attack on the New York judge overnight, accusing Engoron and James of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. James has accused Trump of inflating the real estate holdings of his family business.