Trump attorneys accuse NY AG James of seeking to 'transform' court-appointed monitor into 'her own special counsel'

 April 10, 2024

New York Attorney General Letitia James is apparently not satisfied with the nearly half-billion-dollar civil fraud final judgment she won in February against former President Donald Trump, as she has now requested that a court-appointed "monitor" of the Trump Organization be granted additional investigative powers to look for other alleged crimes.

Trump's attorneys just cried foul, however, and asserted that James is attempting to illegally "transform the monitor into her own special counsel," according to The Epoch Times.

They further outlined how James' request, including its timing and the manner in which it was made, violated multiple aspects of New York law and standard legal procedures.

AG James asks judge to expand powers of court-appointed monitor, grant investigative authority

Business Insider reported this week that New York AG James, despite having won the massive civil fraud judgment against former President Trump in February, has reiterated her years-old complaints that the Trump Organization failed to turn over certain subpoenaed documents during the discovery process -- specifically a set of 2016 emails that purport to prove that Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg perjured himself about the size and value of a particular Trump-owned property.

As such, James is now asking New York Judge Arthur Engoron to essentially reopen the civil case against Trump so that he can modify and expand upon his prior order appointing former federal judge Barbara Jones as a financial monitor who, per The Epoch Times, was tasked only with providing outside parties like lenders with "relevant information" about property values and preventing the removal of Trump Org assets out of the court's jurisdiction.

In an April 4 letter to Engoron, a member of James' team, Senior Enforcement Counsel Kevin Wallace, urged the judge to grant the Monitor additional investigative powers, ostensibly to find the missing emails that were subpoenaed and never turned over -- but which the AG's office nonetheless received and currently possess through other means.

Attorneys for Trump and Weisselberg object to AG James' request

In response to that move last week by AG James, Judge Engoron received two more letters this week, including one from the attorneys representing Weisselberg and one from the attorneys representing former President Trump and his namesake business.

The first letter from Weisselberg's attorney was brief and simply stated that his client "respectfully requests that the Court deny Plaintiff’s extraordinary and wholly improper request, by letter rather than motion practice, to expand the mandate of Justice Barbara Jones (ret.), the court-appointed monitor, by granting her authority, post-judgment, to investigate and report ex parte on matters of pretrial disclosure."

The second letter from Trump's attorneys, however, explained at length how James' request should be denied for a variety of reasons, all of which appeared to violate normal procedures and certain statutes.

Among those was that the court lacked authority to re-open the case after final judgment had been rendered, that James had previously waived her right to challenge pre-trial discovery -- which she actively participated in and directed for years -- and that the requested expansion of authority for the court-appointed monitor greatly exceeded the court's initial scope and likely violated the separation of powers principle.

AG James attempting to "transform the Monitor into her own special counsel"

"The NYAG also seeks to fundamentally alter and expand the scope of the Monitor’s role for a purpose that was never requested during the long pendency of these proceedings or contemplated in the final judgment," the letter stated. "The quasi-prosecutorial, retrospective investigative authority the NYAG requests far exceeds the limited prospective powers of the Monitor specified in the final judgment."

"By mere letter request, without motion practice or any application to reopen the final judgment, the NYAG asks this Court to now modify the final judgment and expand the Monitor’s mandate to include review of the pre-trial discovery process," the attorneys wrote at another point. "The NYAG’s aim, apparently, is to substantiate her utterly speculative claims that Defendants “withheld relevant and responsive information” from her office during discovery."

"The NYAG is silent as to her intended use of any information she acquires, and it cannot possibly affect the outcome of the trial or the final judgment," they continued. "However, she makes clear that the information would be provided ex parte 'to the Court and OAG,' underscoring her stated desire that Defendants and their counsel be deprived of the right to be present for any part of the Monitor’s investigation and to contemporaneously inspect her findings."

"The NYAG’s astonishing request is an evident play to transform the Monitor into her own special counsel," the attorneys asserted. "To be sure, the NYAG’s proposed investigation ... bears no hallmark of a judicial proceeding. Rather, it is a politicized investigatory proceeding shrouded in secrecy to concoct a speculative claim that Defendants engaged in some malfeasance during a discovery process managed by the NYAG and that concluded to the NYAG’s purported satisfaction last summer."

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