Donald Trump won't make his own closing argument in his New York civil business fraud trial after his lawyers objected to the judge's insistence that the former president would stick to “relevant” matters.
Judge Arthur Engoron rescinded permission on Wednesday, a day ahead of closing arguments in the trial.
The trial could cost Trump hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and strip him of his ability to do business in New York. His lawyers had signaled Thursday that he planned to take the extraordinary step of delivering a summation personally, in addition to arguments from his legal team.
Trump is a defendant in the case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. She claims his net worth was inflated by billions of dollars on financial statements that helped him secure business loans and insurance.
The former president and current Republican 2024 front-runner denies any wrongdoing, and he has lambasted the case as a “hoax” and a political attack on him. James and the judge are Democrats.
It’s extremely unusual for people who have lawyers to give their own closing arguments. In an email exchange that happened over recent days and was filed in court Wednesday, Engoron initially approved the unusual request, saying he was “including to let everyone have his or her say.”
But he said Trump would have to limit his remarks to the boundaries that cover attorneys’ closing arguments: “commentary on the relevant, material facts that are in evidence, and application of the relevant law to those facts.”
He would not be allowed to introduce new evidence, “comment on irrelevant matters” or “deliver a campaign speech” — or impugn the judge, his staff, the attorney general, her lawyers or the court system, the judge wrote.
Trump attorney Christopher Kise responded that those limitations were unfair and said Trump could not agree to them.
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