Donald Trump loses bid for mistrial in New York civil fraud case

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A New York judge on Friday rejected Donald Trump’s bid for a mistrial in state Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud lawsuit over the former U.S. president’s family real estate company’s business practices.

Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan said he could not “in good conscience” let Trump pursue a request that was “utterly without merit.”

A spokesperson for Trump and his lawyers had no immediate comment.

Lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization argued that Engoron and his law clerk, Allison Greenfield, were biased against the defendants, and that the only way to maintain confidence in the judiciary was to end the trial.

According to court papers, the alleged bias was reflected in various rulings Engoron has made, his editing a high school alumni newsletter that linked to articles about the case, and political donations made by Greenfield.

But the judge said he has presided “fairly, impartially, and professionally” throughout the more than three years he has overseen the case, and intended to do so until its conclusion.

Attorney General James has accused Trump, his family business, his adult sons and many other defendants of manipulating financial statements, asset values and Trump’s net worth to defraud banks and insurers.

The attorney general is seeking $250 million in penalties, and wants Trump banned from New York state real estate business, among other remedies.

Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in November 2024.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Ismail Shakil; editing by Jasper Ward, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis)

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