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Trump’s lawyers ask NY judge who oversaw civil fraud case to recuse himself

<i>Shannon Stapleton/Pool/Reuters via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers ask New York judge
Shannon Stapleton/Pool/Reuters via CNN Newsource
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers ask New York judge

By Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) — Lawyers for Donald Trump asked the New York judge who ordered the former president to pay nearly half a billion dollars to recuse himself from the case alleging the judge engaged in “prohibited communications” with a real estate lawyer about the case before issuing his decision.

Trump’s attorneys said if Judge Arthur Engoron would not recuse from the case they are seeking an evidentiary hearing to delve into the judge’s reported conversation with New York real estate lawyer Adam Bailey.

In a series of filings with the court on Thursday, Trump’s attorneys cite an interview Bailey gave to NBC New York the day the verdict was rendered, in which Bailey said, he “had the ability to speak to [this Court] three weeks ago … I saw him in the corner [at the courthouse] and I told my client, ‘I need to go.’ And I walked over and we started talking … I wanted him to know what I think [about the case] and why … I really want him to get it right.”

Trump’s lawyers say that is a reason why the judge should recuse himself from the case, which has since been appealed. The judge is still overseeing a monitor who he put in place to oversee the Trump Organization’s finances.

“Specifically, this Court has been publicly accused of engaging in prohibited communications regarding the merits of this case, in clear violation of the Code and this Court’s solemn oath,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, adding, “Where, as here, this Court’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned under the circumstances, it must recuse. Indeed, there is no other means of dispelling the shadow that now looms over this Court’s impartiality, fairness, and ability to adhere to the Code.”

“According to Mr. Bailey, this Court was an active participant in a conversation concerning the merits of the case, wherein this Court asked Mr. Bailey a ‘lot of questions,’” Trump’s lawyers, who also subpoenaed the real estate lawyer, wrote.

Bailey told CNN that he only spoke with Engoron about his September summary judgment decision “because that’s the only thing I discussed with reporters.”

Bailey said they “were discussing the law and how he got the law wrong,” adding: “I didn’t even follow the trial.”

He went on to say he didn’t think speaking with Engoron about his personal views on the judge’s published decision “was wrong in any way.”

“I was tricked, I was duped and I’m devastated that any of this is happening, it’s just wrong,” Bailey said. “I am devastated and I am hurt that even though Judge Engoron is retiring very soon that he still has to deal with this, because of a statement I gave off-the-record.”

A WNBC spokesperson said Thursday: “We stand by our story and our several months of reporting.”

Bailey declined to comment on whether he would move to quash the subpoena.

The NBC New York article was published in May, months after Engoron issued his $454 million judgement against Trump in February. Bailey told NBC New York he spoke with Engoron before the judge issued his decision in the case.

A spokesman for the court told NBC New York at the time, “No ex parte conversaion concerning this matter occurred between Justice Engoron and Mr. Bailey or any other person. The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual.”

Al Baker, spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, said Thursday, “We have no further comment on this matter.” The New York Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Piper Hudspeth Blackburn contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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