Donald Trump, the former president, was back in Manhattan Thursday morning for the latest hearing in his civil financial fraud trial — the start of which was delayed after the presiding judge received a bomb threat at his Long Island home.
Judge Arthur Engoron — the frequent subject of Trump’s ire throughout the civil trial — received the bomb threat on the morning of Jan. 11 at his Nassau County home. According to NBC News, the threat came hours before the closing arguments were set to take place. The bomb squad rushed in and combed over Engoron’s home, causing proceedings to be slightly delayed.
“The Nassau County Police Department continues to investigate this morning’s threat and takes seriously any threat made to an individual,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, said in a statement Thursday. “The Police Department continues to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners on all aspects of this case.”
Meanwhile, Trump — who, despite his myriad legal troubles and role in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, remains the Republican Party’s frontrunner for president in 2024 — wasted little time Thursday making hefty accusations seconds after he arrived for closing arguments. Before even entering the Lower Manhattan courtroom, Trump took aim at both New York Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Engoron overseeing the case, calling the legal process “election interference.”
“It’s election interference at the highest level, it’s crazy,” Trump told reporters, alleging that President Biden is behind his prosecution. “I want to speak, the judge is not letting me because I will bring up things he doesn’t want to hear.”
Trump had sought to offer the closing argument himself in the trial, which Judge Engoron denied. The Associated Press reported that the judge told Trump his summation had to “stick to ‘relevant’ matters and ‘not deliver a campaign speech'” — something to which Trump’s attorneys protested.
Attorney General James, who is leading accusations that Trump and his company knowingly defrauded banks and insurance companies by inflating assets, said that she feels confident about her case.
“Before this trial began, the court ruled in our favor and found that Donald Trump engaged in years of significant financial fraud and unjustly enriched himself and his family,” James said in a statement. “Throughout this trial, we revealed the full scale and scope of that fraud. I am proud of the case we presented, and I am confident that the facts and the rule of law are on our side.”
James is seeking $370 million in damages. While closing arguments began at 10 a.m., a decision is not expected to be made until later this month or early February.
Meanwhile, the former president griped that the court would not even allow him to have a microphone in the hallway as he spoke to reporters, accusing his rivals of trying to keep him silent. Still, according to the Associated Press, Trump attempted to deify the judge’s orders, letting loose a bombastic rant in the court room during his side’s final arguments.
“We have a situation where I am an innocent man,” Trumped blurted out, disobeying pre-arranged commands for him not to interject. “I’m being persecuted by someone running for office.”
Judge Engoron did stop the republican, but instead let him finish the baseless accusations.
Trump — who has repeatedly disparaged the press as “the enemy of the American people” — invited reporters to a press conference later this afternoon at 40 Wall St., yet denied most outlets entry aside from a few photographers and a video camera.
More details on this story will be provided later today as they become available.