Trump legal news brief: Oregon punts on removing Trump from ballot until after U.S. Supreme Court weighs in

Yahoo News’ succinct daily update on the criminal and civil cases against the 45th president of the United States.

Former President Donald Trump
Donald Trump before the start of closing arguments in his civil business fraud trial in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Following Colorado, Maine and other states, Oregon is forced to decide whether, under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, former President Donald Trump is disqualified from appearing on its 2024 ballot for engaging in insurrection — and chooses to wait until a pending U.S. Supreme Court case on the same subject is resolved. In New York, a judge ordered Trump to pay the New York Times nearly $400,000 in compensation for the legal fees it incurred while fighting his failed 2021 lawsuit against the paper. Here are the latest legal developments in the cases facing the man who hopes to return to the White House

Oregon Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 ballot

Key players: Oregon Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade

Why it matters: The recent flurry of 14th Amendment rulings on Trump’s 2024 ballot eligibility will likely subside now as states wait for the Supreme Court to weigh in early next month. A clear decision against Trump — considered a long shot, given the court’s conservative majority — would upend the election; a clear decision in his favor would bring accusations of political bias. The other possibility — a narrow, technical decision or one that postpones addressing the central issue — could keep the controversy alive through November.

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New York Times lawsuit

Judge orders Trump to pay the New York Times nearly $400,000

Key players: The New York Times, Trump’s niece Mary Trump, reporters Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russell Buettner, New York Judge Robert Reed

  • In 2021, Trump sued the New York Times and his niece Mary over a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 story about his inherited wealth and his family’s tax practices.
  • Trump claimed that Mary breached a prior agreement that barred her from disclosing the confidential tax documents that formed the basis of the story.
  • He also claimed that the paper and its reporters — “motivated by a personal vendetta” against him — engaged “in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly sensitive records which they exploited for their own benefit.” Trump sought $100 million in damages.
  • Last year, Reed dismissed the New York Times and its reporters from the suit, writing that news gathering is “at the very core of protected First Amendment activity” and that its practitioners shouldn’t have to live in “fear of tort liability.”
  • Though Trump opposed the amount of money requested by the New York Times to cover its legal fees — $392,638 — Reed ordered Trump to pay it in full.
  • Trump’s suit against his niece will proceed separately.

Why it matters: “The court has sent a message to those who want to misuse the judicial system to try to silence journalists,” said a New York Times spokesperson.

Thursday, Jan.

One day after reversing himself and refusing a request by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers to let him speak during closing arguments in his New York financial fraud trial, Judge Arthur Engoron reverses himself once again. Predictably, Trump’s remarks do not follow the guidelines laid out by the judge, who quickly interrupts him. Here are the latest legal developments involving the former president hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

New York financial fraud

Engoron allows Trump to speak during closing arguments, then quickly cuts him off

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise, New York Attorney General Letitia James, assistant Attorney General Kevin Wallace

  • Near the end of the defense’s closing arguments, Kise asked Engoron to relent on his refusal to allow Trump to address the court even if he did not agree to the judge’s terms of what topics were off limits, the Associated Press reported.
  • Engoron then asked Trump directly whether he would keep his comments limited to the facts in the case.
  • “Well I think your honor that I think this case goes outside just the facts,” Trump responded and then proceeded to flout those guidelines that would have barred him from making a political speech or from attacking courtroom staff and the judicial system.
  • “We have a situation where I’m an innocent man. I’ve been persecuted by somebody running for office and I think you have to go outside the bounds,” Trump said.
  • “This was a political witch hunt,” he added.
  • “What’s happened here, sir, is a fraud on me,” Trump continued. “They want to make sure that I don’t win again and this is partially election interference.”
  • James, Trump added, “hates Trump and uses Trump to get elected.”
  • Lashing out at the judge, Trump said, “You can’t listen for more than one minute.”
  • Engoron told Trump’s lawyer to “control your client,’’ before cutting Trump off altogether after roughly five minutes.
  • “This could have been done differently,” Engoron told Kise before a lunch recess.
  • When court reconvenes, Trump’s lawyers were at the defense table, but their client was not.
  • As the state began its closing arguments in the case, Trump held a news conference at his property at 40 Wall St., where he repeated many of the same claims he made earlier in court.
  • When the state delivered its closing argument, assistant Attorney General Kevin Wallace told Engoron that Trump, in addition to paying millions of dollars in fines, should be barred from doing business in the real estate industry.
  • He added that Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. should be banned from doing business in New York real estate for five years.
  • In October, an appeals court paused Engoron’s order that canceled Trump’s business licenses in New York, but has yet to issue a final ruling.

Why it matters: Trump’s courtroom comments were similar to those he has made to reporters outside the courtroom. The fact that Engoron allowed him to speak at all during the proceedings was the only real surprise about the exchange. But Trump’s remarks are unlikely to impress the judge who will decide the penalties in his civil fraud trail.

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