Trump Lawyers Argue Attorney General Cannot Turn Monitor Into Special Counsel

Trump Lawyers Argue Attorney General Cannot Turn Monitor Into Special Counsel
Former President Donald Trump attends a hearing to determine the date of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on March 25, 2024. (Justin Lane/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Lawyers for President Donald Trump pushed back on New York Attorney General Letitia James’s late request for an expanded monitorship as final judgment has already been entered in the civil fraud case against the former president and his Trump Organization.

In an April 8 letter to the court, they raised what they described as several troubling aspects of the attorney general’s request.

“The NYAG’s astonishing request is an evident play to transform the monitor into her own special counsel,” the letter reads. “[The proposal] bears no hallmark of a judicial proceeding.

“Rather, it is a politicized investigatory proceeding shrouded in secrecy to concoct a speculative claim that defendants engaged in some malfeasance during a discovery process managed by the NYAG and that concluded to the NYAG’s purported satisfaction last summer.”

In February, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron entered final judgment against President Trump, who is now appealing the case and maintains he did nothing wrong.

On March 4, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to perjury in Justice Engoron’s courtroom, avoiding jail time in a separate criminal case in New York.

Ms. James on April 4 addressed a letter to the judge requesting that the monitor on the Trump Organization be given the authority to conduct and direct an independent investigation into documents related to Mr. Weisselberg’s false testimonies and report back to the attorney general’s office.

Mr. Weisselberg testified about the Trump Tower triplex penthouse—famously misreported to be three times its actual size in a Forbes article resulting in controversy—and the attorney general requested the monitor review correspondence related to this and determine why certain files were produced or not produced in discovery.

Discovery Closed

Defense attorneys argued that discovery had closed months ago at the direction of the attorney general, who “vigorously defended” the trial schedule that commenced.

They added that Ms. James had certified that discovery was complete on July 31, 2023, and has not taken any steps to vacate this certification.

Several state cases ruled that by filing a note of issue stating discovery is complete, the plaintiff cannot reopen discovery and has even waived any defects in the defense’s productions, the attorneys cited.

They argued that the attorney general herself played an active role and gave “substantial input” in directing the discovery process and that the defense went back and forth with the office over several months to refine the discovery that was ultimately produced.

The defense claimed this was a fishing expedition based on speculation that it withheld information related to perjury, which attorneys for President Trump say they did not know of.

More troubling, they argued, was that the attorney general made this request via an informal letter.

If the court were to amend the monitorship order based on this informal recommendation, the defendants would not be able to appeal.

“Without motion practice or any application to reopen the final judgment, the NYAG asks this court to now modify the final judgment and expand the monitor’s mandate to include review of the pre-trial discovery process,” the letter reads.

“Thus, the court’s entry of the NYAG’s proposed order would not comport with the CPLR or be subject to standard appellate review.”

Barbara Jones, a former judge, was appointed as monitor to review Trump Organization’s financial practices in 2022, ordered by the judge to represent an “arm of the court.”

The purpose of the monitorship was to ensure that outside parties like lenders and accountants receive all necessary information related to Trump Organization valuations and to prevent defendants from removing assets outside the jurisdiction during the investigation and trial.

The court noted that this role would be separate from a receiver to control the organization, which it had contemplated installing.

The defense now argues that as an extension of the court, the monitor must not do what a judge cannot himself do.

To confer investigative authority on the monitor “violates deep-seated separation of powers principles enshrined in case law and the constitution of this state,” they argued.

New York courts have ruled that judges cannot be made investigators and act as prosecutors do, the defense argued.

In any case, final judgment has already been entered and such an investigation would not change that, they added.

“The NYAG is silent as to her intended use of any information she acquires, and it cannot possibly affect the outcome of the trial or the final judgment,” the letter reads.

From The Epoch Times

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