© 2024 Allbritton Journalism Institute

Trump’s Legal Team Tries to Undermine His New York Bank Fraud Judgment

The New York justice on the case is allowing Trump’s legal team to subpoena the lawyer who says he gave the judge “unsolicited advice” before the order.

Donald Trump
The nearly half-billion-dollar judgment against Trump and two of his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, threatens to cripple the former president’s finances. Paul Sancya/AP

Donald Trump’s desperate search for a smoking gun to tank his bank fraud judgment continues, this time with an attempt to question a lawyer who crossed paths with the New York judge who hit Trump with a half-billion-dollar judgment.

New York Justice Arthur F. Engoron, under pressure to appear as impartial as possible, green-lighted Trump’s request to subpoena a lawyer who publicly admitted he tried to offer “unsolicited advice” to the judge weeks before the order came down.

In May, NBC reported that Adam Leitman Bailey — a real estate lawyer who once had his bar license suspended — randomly approached the judge to let him “know what I think and why … I really want him to get it right.” According to a source who spoke to NOTUS, Bailey hurriedly approached the judge as Engoron was making his way through the courthouse and muttered something about the statutes at issue in the case.

Last month, Trump’s legal team subpoenaed Bailey and demanded that he fork over copies of any and all communications he’s ever had with the judge or his staff — a demand that Engoron found to be an “improper wholesale fishing expedition.” The judge noted that Bailey is involved in other cases before the court that have nothing to do with the Trump fraud trial that concluded earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Engoron narrowed down the subpoena but still allowed Trump’s legal team to question the lawyer about any communications he’s had with the judge about this case. In his order, Engoron recognized the weird nature of the event and concluded that “the subpoena is not wholly without merit.”

“Mr. Bailey is directed to furnish all responsive documents to the subpoena,” Engoron wrote.

However, no additional documents are actually expected, given that Bailey simply approached the judge in person, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Trump’s legal maneuvering here, albeit inconsequential to the case at large, shows how his lawyers are trying to find anything that could cause controversy in the case. The nearly half-billion-dollar judgment against Trump and two of his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, threatens to cripple his finances at a time when the business mogul is undergoing a cash crunch. And with every passing day, the total keeps climbing with mounting interest that is ballooning the overall judgment. The case is currently on appeal in New York’s state appellate court.

Jose Pagliery is a reporter at NOTUS.