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'Written in stone': N.Y. judge refuses to delay Trump civil fraud trial

Justice Arthur Engoron denied a request from the former president's lawyers that could have pushed the trial into next year.
Donald Trump,Eric Trump,Donald Trump Jr.,Ivanka Trump
Donald Trump sits with his children, from left, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump at a groundbreaking ceremony for Trump International Hotel in Washington in 2014.Evan Vucci / AP

As Donald Trump waits to hear whether he's being indicted by the New York County district attorney's office, the New York judge presiding over the separate $250 million civil fraud case against the former president and his company refused a request that would have delayed his October trial date.

At a hearing in civil court in lower Manhattan, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron told lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization that the Oct. 2 trial date he'd already set for the case is "written in stone" and wouldn't be moved. Supreme Court is the name of New York's highest trial court.

"This case is complex, but it's not complicated," Engoron said of the request by Trump, his oldest children and his company to have more time to work on their defense against the fraud allegations that have been brought by the state attorney general's office.

Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing this month that the deadline for discovery in the case, which had been Monday, was unfair and unrealistic given the “staggering” amount of evidence they have to review from the office of Attorney General Letitia James.

Trump’s legal team asked the judge to extend the deadlines for fact discovery until late September and for expert witness discovery until December — which is two months after the trial was scheduled to begin.

The attorney general's office blasted the request in court filings, saying Trump was using the same delaying tactics he has been using for years.

“When the calendar turns over into 2024, Donald J. Trump will be in the midst of a campaign for President,” their filing said. “Defendants have used his campaign as a reason for delay in both 2016 and 2020. There is no reason to believe 2024 will be any different.”

In court Tuesday, Trump lawyer Chris Kise proposed a more modest delay, which would have resulted in the trial’s being pushed back to Oct. 23, but the judge refused.

Engoron did allow the Trump side to take 10 additional depositions it had been seeking.

James filed her sweeping lawsuit against Trump, his children Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka and the family company in September, alleging that they had for years been inflating their worth in financial statements to banks and insurers to the tune of billions of dollars, allowing them to get loans and deals they weren’t entitled to.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and he maintains the suit is part of a partisan "witch hunt" against him. He has made similar allegations against Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, whose office is weighing whether to indict him on a charge of falsifying business records, alleging he covered up a hush money payment to an adult film star.

Some of Trump's Republican allies in the House announced Monday that they were investigating Bragg. On Tuesday, Trump posted on his social media website, Truth Social, that Congress should also "look at Corrupt Attorney General of New York Letitia James, who got elected solely on a ‘I WILL GET TRUMP’ platform.” 

The start of Tuesday's hearing was delayed for about a half-hour because of a bomb threat that was phoned into 911, said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state court system. The “varied” threat was made against a "number of locations" in Lower Manhattan, he said.