A Manhattan judge said Wednesday there was no option for former President Donald Trump to have a jury trial in the $250 million civil fraud case against him.
“We are having a non-jury trial because we are hearing a non-jury case,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said at the seventh day of trial against Trump, according to ABC News.
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, 77, said during opening statements last week that her client wanted a jury to oversee the case against him.
And Trump — who was present for the first three days of the trial last week — said in front of the press and on his social media platform Truth Social multiple times that it was unfair he couldn’t have a jury in the case.
Engoron said it wouldn’t have mattered if Trump’s team had checked a box on a legal form requesting a jury, or even if he’d made a motion for one, because the judge would have shot down any such request.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is prosecuting the lawsuit, brought the case seeking “equitable” relief, which does not allow for a jury trial, Engoron explained — validating comments Habba also made in the press.
“It would have not helped to make a motion. Nobody forgot to check off a box,” the judge said.
“I would like to say thank you, your honor,” Habba responded.
Habba said in a statement the day after opening remarks: “There was never an option to choose a jury trial.
“It is unfortunate that a jury won’t be able to hear how absurd the merits of this case are and conclude no wrongdoing ever happened.”
On Wednesday, Engoron heard testimony from Nicholas Haigh, a retired risk manager at Deutsche Bank, who said the company relied on Trump’s vast purported personal net worth in agreeing to lend him $125 million to buy a golf course in 2011, ABC News reported.
James’ case claims that for a decade, the real estate tycoon inflated his wealth by over $3 billion a year to get better loan and insurance terms.
“[Trump] is guaranteeing he will repay our loan — all the money due on the loan,” Haigh said. “He is also guaranteeing if the result is losing money, he will pay the cost of that shortfall.”
He said Trump was allowed to use the Trump National Doral golf club and spa to back the loan — which was “unusual” collateral for the bank.
But it did so believing Trump could personally pay back the money after seeing his yearly Statements of Financial Condition — which James said Trump lied on each year from 2011 through 2021.
The former commander-in-chief agreed to keep his net worth at a minimum of $2.5 billion as part of the loan terms, Haigh explained.
“It was set in order to make sure the bank was fully protected under adverse market conditions,” Haigh told the judge.
James, meanwhile, has claimed that Trump’s true worth was a much lower $1.5 billion at the time he struck the agreement — which would have put him in default.
Haigh also said that when Trump came looking for $1 billion in backing to buy the Buffalo Bills football team in 2014, the bank rejected the request, since Trump already had a loan out with the bank, the outlet reported.
“Deutsche Bank was not willing to increase its credit exposure to Donald Trump at that time,” Haigh testified.
The AG’s Office didn’t immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
SOURCE: New york post