As Trump Appears in New York Courtroom for Fraud Trial, Cameras Catch Judge Laughing

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Former President Donald Trump appeared in New York on Monday at the civil fraud trial being pursued by Attorney General Letitia James.

The outcome of the case is pretty much a foregone conclusion as Justice Arthur Engoron, the Democrat New York Supreme Court judge overseeing the case, already threw Trump under the bus in a ruling last week that Trump, the Trump Organization and officials had overestimated property values. Engoron then canceled the defendants’ New York business certificates and ordered an independent receiver to oversee their dissolution.

But as we noted, the judge’s decision regarding the value of Mar-a-Lago was called into question by real estate experts who knew the area and who opined it was the judge who was underestimating the value of the property. The judge kicked around numbers like $18 million or $21 million when experts said much smaller places with less acreage were running at $150 million or more.

Trump’s attorney and advisor Alina Habba called out the trial as a political effort to take out Trump.  

“We just heard Letitia James make comments that nobody is above the law,” Alina Habba said of her client. “I think that’s quite rich considering that anyone who is a Democrat, including the Biden family, seems to be above the law every day.”

She continued to echo Trump’s claims that the Democrats are bringing these charges against him because he is “leading in the polls.”

But, she said, “Although my faith in the system is weary, I do have faith in Donald Trump.” 

How biased and problematic is this effort?

James ran her 2018 campaign with a promise to go after Trump, calling him an “illegitimate president.” But apparently running with the stated intent of targeting a political opponent and denying the results of an election is totally cool when you’re a Democratic Attorney General and the opponent is Donald Trump.

The case is likely to continue for months as James tries to lay out her case, but there were already visible issues of potential bias in the case this morning when Trump arrived. The judge allowed cameras in the courtroom, perhaps hoping that would play badly for Trump. Instead, it’s Engoron and Letitia James whose behaviors are being questioned as it seemed Letitia James kept giving Trump the side-eye and Engoron appeared to be laughing and playing to the cameras in front of Trump.

In such a highly charged case, this is not a good look, to say the least.

In the clips above you can hear the George Washington University law professor talking about how these visuals will play, and one answer is that this just reinforces the belief that this is about getting Trump when the judge is play-acting for the camera and can’t even hold his decorum together, because he’s likely delighting in this, that he gets to handle the trial against Trump. Since it’s a bench trial, he gets to make the final decision. That’s not good news for Trump.

Unfortunately, that’s the status of the legal system in the United States these days, with questionable efforts to take out political opponents coming more and more frequently, something that is moving us away from the rule of law to the rule of the banana republic.

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