Trump civil fraud trial judge defends questioning potential perjury from witness

CNNThe judge overseeing the New York attorney general’s fraud case against Donald Trump defended his questioning of a potential guilty plea by a long-time ally of Trump, saying allegations that he is not impartial are “getting old.”

The exchange is the latest in a long-running case fraught with tension as the parties await the judge’s ruling which could significantly impact the former president’s business in New York.

Judge Arthur Engoron has asked the lawyers for Trump and the attorney general’s office whether he should consider the possible perjury admission by former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, as reported by CNN, The New York Times, and numerous news organization, and if it should impact the timing of his decision, which is expected this month.

In a letter Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers said it would be improper for the judge to consider anything that did not come into evidence during the 45-day trial and “calls into question the impartiality of the Court.” The attorney general’s office urged the judge to rule, saying a criminal investigation could go on indefinitely.

In an email to Trump’s attorney on Thursday, the judge pushed back on the suggestion that he was going to rely on news reports about Weisselberg’s possible perjury in his decision.

“I have not taken, do not plan to take, and did not suggest or hint that I would take the Times article into consideration in my findings of fact,” the judge wrote.

The judge said if Weisselberg pleads guilty before his ruling he will “research and consider what the law allows.” He said it was appropriate to inquire about the potential perjury charge.

“You and your co-counsel have been questioning my impartiality since the early days of this case, presumably because I sometimes rule against your clients. That while approach is getting old,” the judge wrote.

“I am not reopening the case, but if someone pleads guilty to committing perjury in a case over which I am presiding, I want to know about it,” the judge wrote.