Trump’s Fraud Trial Devolves Into More Feuding Over Judge’s ‘Biased’ Law Clerk, Whom Trump Was Fined for Insulting: Defense Accuses Her of Whispering and ‘Passing Notes’

The arguing over the impartiality and courtroom role of Judge Arthur Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, came on a day when Eric Trump took the stand for a long, tough examination.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Judge Arthur Engoron, seated next to his principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, has demanded answers about the reports that Mr. Weisselberg may have lied. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The judge overseeing the 250 million dollar civil fraud case against Donald J. Trump and his family real estate empire scolded lawyers for the defense after one of them accused his law clerk of acting improperly on Thursday.  

“Do not refer to my staff again,” Judge Arthur Engoron warned, slowly enunciating each word. 

The emotionally charged confrontation came on the second day of testimony from Donald Trump’s sons, who are both defendants in the trial and are being accused of falsifying financial company statements. Judge Engoron has already found the Trump Organization guilty of fraud, and the current legal proceedings involve determining the penalty to be paid. 

Justice Arthur Engoron and his principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield. John Taggart-pool/Getty Images

After Donald Trump Jr. had finished his testimony and left the courtroom at 11:40am, his younger sibling Eric Trump took the stand and endured a long day of questions from the prosecution. He was still being grilled by Andrew Amer, a state attorney, when the defense interrupted. Trump attorney Chris Kise stood up and complained that Judge Engoron’s law clerk, Ms. Allison Greenfield, was improperly “co-judging” the case by whispering and passing notes to the judge during the proceeding.

“The person alongside me is my principal law clerk.” Judge Engoron emphasized and paused. “She is a civil servant.” He paused again. “She is doing what I ask her to do and she has helped me process cases and decide them correctly.”

For a clerk, Ms. Greenfield has played an outsized role in the proceedings. Earlier in the trial, Judge Engoron imposed a partial gag order on Mr. Trump after he posted a photo of Ms. Greenfield and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, on Truth Social, calling her, without substantiation, “Schumer’s girlfriend.”  The post was deleted, but a few days later, Judge Engoron fined Mr. Trump $5,000 dollars for violating the gag order when he learned that the offending post was still live on Mr. Trump’s campaign website. 

Then, last week, during the testimony of his nemesis Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump got himself in trouble again regarding Ms. Greenfield. He told reporters in the courthouse hallway that Judge Engoron was “a very partisan judge with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him.” 

Eric Trump arrives in court on Thursday. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The 45th president of the United States was called to the witness stand, where he claimed he had referred to Mr. Cohen, his former fixer, and not to the law clerk, Ms. Greenfield. But the judge did not consider Mr. Trump’s “credible,” and fined him again. 

But on Thursday it was Mr. Kise, Mr. Trump’s attorney, who was attacking Ms. Greenfield. Judge Engeron, her fierce defender, slammed down his fist. If there were any further comments about his staff, he warned the defense, he would extend the gag order to include the attorneys. 

“I sometimes think there may be a bit of misogyny, in fact, on your team, referring to my female principal law clerk,” he added.  

“I assure you misogyny is not the issue,” another defense attorney, Alina Habba, barked from the defense table. ”I have the same issues with the person sitting on the bench. I would like to make that clear on the record. And frankly, it is not just distracting, it’s insulting.” 

Like her colleague, she complained about the notes the law clerk handed the judge. “There is a nod of the head and then decisions are made,” she said. 

Judge Arthur Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield. LinkedIn.

Mr. Kise doubled down on his defense, saying he was happily married and a father to a 17-year-old daughter. “I have my own constitutional, personal rights,” he told the judge, saying he felt obligated, as he defended his client, to make “points in the record” about “observations” about “biased” and possibly politically motivated behavior involving Ms. Greenfield. 

Judge Engoron told the agitated attorneys that he had an “absolute unfettered right to get advice” from his principal law clerk, and that “it actually goes a little broader than that.” Law clerks as a common practice draft opinions and work very closely with judges. He dismissed Mr. Kise’s and Ms. Habba’s complaints. 

“To weigh in on a first amendment right against the state and my staff,” he growled, “your points are not well taken.” He further reminded the attorneys that they too pass notes to each other at their table, and discuss the case during the proceeding. 

Outside the courthouse, Ms. Habba addressed reporters, and defended Trump’s children, saying they “are being brought in, away from their families, for doing nothing wrong.” 

She called the case that Attorney General Letitia James has brought against the Trumps “the biggest waste of New York taxpayer dollars I have ever seen.”

Andrew Amer will continue questioning Eric Trump on Friday morning. Donald J. Trump himself is expected to testify on Monday. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, has been fighting a subpoena to appear, but her emergency appeal was denied on Thursday. She is scheduled to take the stand on Wednesday of next week.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use