A New York judge ruled Thursday that an “independent monitor” will be appointed by the court to oversee the finances of former president Donald Trump and the Trump Organization during the tax fraud trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
According to Josh Gerstein of Politico, the ruling is a big loss for the failed former president and his company, which is already facing financial uncertainty and multiple investigations.
New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron issued an order after a daylong hearing, requiring that the Trump Organization’s dealings with banks and sale of major assets be subject to supervision by a third party expert to be named by the court.
One provision in the order requires 14 days notice to the court before Trump can dispose of any “non-cash asset” listed in a financial statement his firm prepared last year.
The judge’s order came over strenuous objections from Trump’s lawyers in Manhattan earlier Thursday, where Trump’s team pleaded with Engoron to reject Attorney General Tish James’ bid to impose potentially far-reaching supervision of Trump’s business empire as litigation proceeds over her claims that the firms engaged in vast bank and insurance fraud in real estate transactions.
After Judge Engoron issued the ruling, James praised the decision:
“Time and time again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump cannot evade the law for personal gain,” she said in a statement. “Today’s decision will ensure that Donald Trump and his companies cannot continue the extensive fraud that we uncovered and will require the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance at the Trump Organization.”
The judge also noted that while he believes the government has to meet a “heavy burden” to warrant the appointment of a financial monitor, all he has heard so far in the way of a defense from Trump’s attorneys is “little more than hot air.”
Kise suggested that such a move would be tantamount to placing the Trump Organization into receivership, arguing “It’s really more in the nature of seizing control of a successful corporation and interfering on a day-to-day basis with its financial arrangements.”
But Judge Engoron dismissed Kise’s argument by remarking:
“Your papers kept using the word receiver. … They’re not asking for one and that’s very different from a monitor. True or false?”
Kise also accused AG James of trying to make headlines in the midst of a midterm election, which will be held next Tuesday.
“We’re a few days out from an election. I’m hoping that’s not behind the motivation and the timing here, but I’m candidly a little bit cynical about it. … I hesitated to bring it up, but this really shouldn’t be about political theater.”
What Kise failed to add, however, is that Trump isn’t on the the ballot in any of the 50 states and is subject to the same laws as every other American.