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Judge Engoron blasts Trump team’s ‘nonsensical’ mistrial bid

Trump’s attorneys have repeatedly accused Engoron and his clerk of bias in the New York civil fraud trial.

New York Judge Arthur Engoron rejected an attempt by Donald Trump's lawyers to seek a mistrial in his civil fraud trial Friday, calling their arguments "nonsensical" and "utterly without merit."

Trump’s lawyers had filed a motion for mistrial on Wednesday in which they argued that the clerk’s political donations and Engoron’s relationship to his high school alumni newsletter — which included news articles referencing Trump's case — showed partisan bias against their client.

In his order issued on Friday, Engoron dismissed the accusations, saying the newsletter often includes links to articles that mention graduates, including himself, and that restrictions on political contributions by clerks do not apply to his clerk, who is also running for an elected judicial position.

Engoron also rejected the argument that his clerk had any influence over him:

Such arguments are nonsensical; and in any event, they are a red herring, as my Principal Law Clerk does not make rulings or issue orders — I do.

As my colleague Jordan Rubin has noted, Trump’s team had been setting the stage for a mistrial request by “playing up an adversarial posture between him and the judge (and the clerk) throughout the proceeding.” For weeks now, Trump's lawyers have tried to paint Engoron and his clerk as biased against the former president. Engoron even slapped a gag order on Trump's lawyers after one too many "inappropriate remarks" about his staff, noting that the court has received a barrage of threats since the trial began.

That gag order is on hold for now; a New York appellate judge temporarily lifted it on Thursday, citing concerns about "constitutional and statutory rights."

Predictably, Trump pounced on the opportunity. Just hours after the gag order was put on hold, he publicly criticized Engoron's clerk, calling her "politically biased and out of control" and denounced the gag order as "a disgrace."