An appellate judge at the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan has blocked Donald Trump’s attempt to pause a blockbuster civil trial on fraud allegations while he continues to challenge a judge’s sweeping order that threatens to cancel his business licenses in the state.
The order issued on 6 October rejected the former president’s attempts to halt the trial, which entered its fifth day on Friday, but the judge agreed to stay a ruling that cancels his business certificates, a sanction that came in a surprise order from Judge Arthur Engoron last week finding Mr Trump liable for fraud.
By cancelling business certificates in New York held by the former president and his co-defendants – his sons, associates, and the Trump Organization – Judge Engoron effectively directed that those companies be dissolved by the end of October.
Justice Peter Moulton said at the outset of oral arguments on Friday afternoon that he was unlikely to halt the trial.
Making the case regarding the business certificates, Trump attorney Christopher Kise argued that Judge Engoron’s order applied to non-parties – Trump businesses in New York state not named in New York Attorney General Letitia James’s complaint.
“That’s severe, irreparable, and unconstitutional harm,” Mr Kise said.
Speaking on behalf of the attorney general’s office, Judith Vale argued that the near-term effects of Judge Engoron’s order were not as consequential as being made out.
“I don’t think anyone thinks that revoking the certificates means the lights go off at 40 Wall Street tomorrow,” Ms Vale said.
When Judge Moulton’s order came down it read: “Defendants’ application for an interim stay of enforcement of Supreme Court’s decisions dated September 26 and October 4, 2023, and for a stay of trial is granted solely to the extent of staying enforcement of Supreme Court’s order directing the cancellation of business certificates. The interim application is denied in all other respects.”
It’s the latest legal blow for the former president, who sat in Judge Engoron’s courtroom for two and a half days to hear opening arguments from counsel with Ms James, who is suing the former president and his adult sons and chief associates for allegedly fraudulently inflating his wealth and assets to secure lucrative financial benefits.
Mr Trump also heard testimony from former accountants who put the blame on his allegedly fraudulent statements of financial condition back on the Trump Organization and its leadership.
In his attempt to pause the trial, attorneys for Mr Trump warned that the sanctions against him and his business empire would “unquestionably inflict severe and irreparable harm” to the parties and “employees who depend on the affected entities for their livelihoods.”
“Terminating non-party business licenses without jurisdiction, without process, without statutory authority, without trial, and without reason renders impossible the lawful operation of multiple businesses and threatens termination of hundreds of New York employees without any jurisdiction or due process,” the motion argued.
The court “clearly does not comprehend the scope of the chaos its decision has wrought,” their last-minute filing stated.
Eric Trump released a statement on behalf of the Trump Organization thanking the court for Friday’s stay over the loss of the business certificates.
He claimed the judge’s order “erroneously sought to adjudicate the rights of non-party business entities that employ nearly 1,000 hard-working New Yorkers, have never been accused of any wrongdoing and, were never given their day in court,” which he argued is unconstitutional.
“We will continue to vigorously defend our company and our incredible employees from this politically-motivated persecution,” he added.
The fraud trial will proceed next week, with co-defendant former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg expected to take the stand on Tuesday.
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