November 10th, 2023
By Ella Lee
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) filed a judicial ethics complaint Friday against the New York judge overseeing former President Trump’s civil fraud trial, claiming the judge has shown “inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance” toward the former president and calling on him to resign.
Judge Arthur Engoron has displayed a “clear judicial bias” against Trump and broken “several rules” in the state’s judicial conduct code, Stefanik wrote in a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
“This judge’s bizarre behavior has no place in our judicial system, where Judge Engoron is not honoring the defendant’s rights to due process and a fair trial,” Stefanik wrote, asserting that those “serious concerns” are amplified by Trump’s status as the front-runner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary.
The letter trumpets many arguments Trump’s legal team has made throughout the case, including that there were “no victims” of the former president’s business dealings and that Engoron unfairly prejudged the case.
Before the trial began, Engoron ruled that Trump, the Trump Organization and several executives — including Trump’s adult sons — were liable for fraud. The decision stripped Trump’s business licenses and put some of his iconic properties at risk, though a New York appeals court paused the cancellation of the business licenses until after it hears Trump’s case.
Throughout the seven-week trial, which is ongoing, Engoron has become an unlikely foe of Trump. The two butted heads while the former president took the witness stand in the New York attorney general’s case against him.
“I’m sure the judge will rule against me, because he always rules against me,” Trump said Monday.
Engoron lodged repeated objections to the former president’s winding responses to the state’s questions — akin to his stump speeches on the campaign trail — and urged Trump attorney Chris Kise to rein him in.
Trump’s behavior toward Engoron began to significantly break down after the judge issued a limited gag order barring the former president or other parties from speaking about the judge’s principal law clerk, whom Trump and his team have decried as biased and “Trump-hating.”
Stefanik’s letter discusses the clerk at length, detailing her purported political donations to Democratic donors and causes and criticizing the gag order.
“If anyone in America must have the constitutional right to speak out against the judge, his staff, the witnesses, or the process, it’s a defendant going through a process he believes is politicized and weaponized against him,” Stefanik wrote. “To gag a defendant is un-American.”
The Hill requested comment from the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. A spokesperson for the commission said that “all matters before the Commission on Judicial Conduct are confidential according to law, unless and until a judge is found to have committed ethical misconduct, and a decision to that effect is issued.”
The New York attorney general’s office has requested $250 million in financial penalties and a ban on Trump and executives doing business in the state. The state rested its case Wednesday, and Trump’s legal team is expected to begin its case in chief Monday.
Read the article in The Hill here.