Trump legal news brief: Judge Engoron rules that Ivanka Trump must testify in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial

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

Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Samuel Corum/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Getty Images (3).
Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Samuel Corum/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Getty Images (3).

Ivanka Trump must testify in the $250 million civil fraud case against her father, brothers and family business, Judge Arthur Engoron rules. In Colorado, meanwhile, a district court judge rules that a case seeking to block Trump’s name from appearing on state ballots can move forward.

New York financial fraud

Judge: Ivanka Trump must testify in civil fraud case against family father

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, former Trump Organization EVP Ivanka Trump, New York state prosecutor Kevin Wallace, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Ivanka Trump's lawyer, Bennet Moskowitz

  • On Friday, Engoron ruled that Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanaka, must testify in the $250 million civil case brought by James against the former president, his adult sons and their family business, the Associated Press reported.

  • Ivanka Trump served as executive vice president of the Trump Organization through 2017, when she left that role and became an unpaid presidential adviser.

  • On Friday, Moskowitz told Engoron that New York prosecutors “just don’t have jurisdiction over her.”

  • Wallace countered that argument, saying, “She is 100% someone who can come in and testify.”

  • In June, a New York state appeals court ruled that the claims James brought against Ivanka Trump exceeded the state statute of limitations, and dismissed the charges against her.

  • Her lawyers were given time to appeal his ruling.

Why it matters: Trump, his sons Eric and Don Jr., and his daughter Ivanka will now all be compelled to testify under oath in the case about whether they inflated the value of their assets to obtain favorable bank and loan terms.

Jan. 6 election interference

Judge rejects Trump bid to dismiss lawsuit that aims to keep him off Colorado ballot

Key players: Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace, Chief U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer

  • Wallace ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit brought to keep Trump’s name from appearing on Colorado ballots could continue, NBC News reported.

  • Trump’s lawyers argued that Wallace should dismiss the lawsuit brought by six voters. It seeks to block Trump’s inclusion on ballots because he allegedly violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” in the wake of the 2020 election.

  • Lawyers for Trump argued Congress, not courts, are the sole arbiters on the question of eligibility.

  • In her 24-page ruling, Wallace disagreed, writing that the Constitution “says nothing regarding what government body would adjudicate or determine such disability in the first instance.”

Why it matters: The Colorado case, which has survived multiple legal challenges, is just one of several seeking to keep Trump off the ballot due to his apparent violation of the 14th Amendment. Those seem destined to land at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Recommended reading:


Thursday, Oct. 26


Photo illustration of Donald Trump and microphones.
Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Robert Alexander/Getty Images, Spencer Platt/Getty Images, Getty Images (2)

In Washington, prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team ask Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue a permanent gag order on former President Donald Trump, in part over a message posted on social media they say included a threat to his former chief of staff. In New York, Judge Arthur Engoron stands by his decision to fine Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order in his New York financial fraud trial.

Jan. 6 election interference

Citing 'threatening' message to Meadows, Smith asks judge to impose permanent gag order on Trump

Key players: Special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Tanya Chutkan, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

  • Citing a social media post by Trump that prosecutors said included a "threatening" message for Meadows, prosecutors asked Chutkan in a Wednesday court filing to impose a permanent and more restrictive gag order on the former president, ABC News reported.

  • Trump posted his message in response to media reports that Meadows had reached an immunity deal with Smith's office, agreeing to testify in exchange for avoiding criminal charges.

  • “I don’t think Mark Meadows would lie about the Rigged and Stollen 2020 Presidential Election merely for getting IMMUNITY against Prosecution (PERSECUTION!) by Deranged Prosecutor, Jack Smith,” Trump wrote Tuesday on Truth Social. The post continued that those who would accept such deals were "weaklings and cowards."

  • The post, prosecutors wrote in their filing, was meant to "send an unmistakable and threatening message to a foreseeable witness in this case."

  • In their filing, prosecutors asked Chutkan for a more stringent gag order than the one she established earlier this month.

  • “The Court should modify the defendant's conditions of release by making compliance with the [gag] Order a condition or by clarifying that the existing condition barring communication with witnesses about the facts of the case includes indirect messages to witnesses made publicly on social media or in speeches,” Wednesday's filing stated.

  • “There has never been a criminal case in which a court has granted a defendant an unfettered right to try his case in the media, malign the presiding judge as a ‘fraud’ and a ‘hack,’ attack the prosecutor as ‘deranged’ and a ‘thug,’” the filing continued.

  • Chutkan paused an a partial gag order on Trump designed to prevent him from attacking prosecutors, court staff and potential witnesses after Trump's lawyers appealed her ruling last week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Why it matters: As the Associated Press noted Thursday, while the use of gag orders for defendants in civil and criminal cases is not uncommon in American courtrooms, restricting the speech of those who are also running for political office is a novel test for the judicial system. If Trump is hit with more gag orders, more violations of them seem likely. Testimony provided by Meadows is certain to be a part of the prosecution's case against Trump.

New York financial fraud

Engoron refuses to revoke Trump’s $10K fine

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

  • In court Thursday, Engoron stood by his decision to impose a $10,000 fine on Trump Wednesday for violating a limited gag order designed to prevent him from verbally attacking members of the judge’s staff, Reuters reported.

  • Kise asked Engoron to reconsider the fine, reiterating his client’s position that he had been speaking about Cohen rather than the judge’s clerk when he told reporters, "This judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who's very partisan sitting alongside of him."

  • Engoron reviewed videotape of Trump’s remarks and concluded that it was “clear” Trump was referring to the clerk who sits next to the judge in the courtroom.

  • This is the second fine Engoron has imposed on Trump. The first, for $5,000, came after the former president attacked his clerk on social media.

Why it matters: While Trump routinely goes after Engoron in social media posts and in statements made to the media, the judge has the power to fine and jail him for violating court orders.


Wednesday, Oct. 25


Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Getty Images)

Judge Arthur Engoron fined former President Donald Trump another $10,000 Wednesday for violating a gag order he put in place to prevent Trump from disparaging members of his staff. Following reports Tuesday that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows struck an immunity deal with special counsel Jack Smith in exchange for providing testimony about Trump, Meadows casts doubt on that claim and Trump wonders aloud if it is true.

New York financial fraud

Judge questions Trump on witness stand, fines him $10,000 for violating gag order again

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

  • Engoron questioned Trump on the witness stand Wednesday about comments he made outside the courtroom that appeared in violation of a gag order imposed to keep him from disparaging the judge’s staff, Reuters reported.

  • During a break earlier on Wednesday, Trump told reporters, “This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.”

  • In court, Engoron’s clerk, who Trump attacked in a social media post that later resulted in a $5,000 fine, sits next to him.

  • Engoron asked who he was referring to with his latest comments. “You and Cohen,” Trump responded.

  • Engoron was not impressed. "As the trier of fact, I find the witness is not credible," he said, and issued a $10,000 fine.

  • After that, Trump angrily stormed out of the courtroom and the trial then continued.

  • Engoron, earlier on Wednesday, admonished Trump’s lawyers over remarks the former president made outside the courtroom, the Associated Press reported.

  • Kise responded that Trump was referring to Cohen, who delivered testimony from the witness stand a short distance from where the judge sits.

Why it matters: Engoron, who has now twice fined Trump for violating the gag order, has also threatened to jail him if the attacks continue. Wednesday’s altercation was yet another test of his patience.

Jan. 6 election interference

Meadows denies reports he accepted an immunity deal with federal prosecutors

Key players: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, special counsel Jack Smith, Meadows’s lawyer George Terwilliger, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis

  • On Tuesday, citing “sources familiar with the matter,” ABC News published a story that claimed that Smith had granted Meadows immunity to testify under oath about his interactions with Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election.

  • Bloomberg, citing their own source, confirmed that reporting, and both outlets noted that Meadows testified that he told Trump repeatedly that claims of widespread election fraud were not true.

  • But a lawyer for Meadows denied late Tuesday that his client had flipped on Trump, the Daily Beast reported.

  • “I told ABC that their story was largely inaccurate. People will have to judge for themselves the decision to run it anyway.” Terwilliger told CBS News.

  • In a post on Truth Social, Trump expressed a measure of confidence that Meadows had not joined the ranks of those who have cut deals with prosecutors to testify against him, but seemed to acknowledge it was a possibility.

  • “I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?” Trump wrote.

  • Meadows has not been charged in Smith’s federal election interference case, but he has been charged by Willis with multiple felonies in Georgia.

Why it matters: Perhaps more than any other person involved in the events leading up to and following the 2020 presidential election, Meadows witnessed Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results. His testimony could prove decisive in the federal and Georgia cases.


Tuesday, Oct. 24


A photo illustration of two women and a man, showing them before courthouse columns.
Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images, Alyssa Pointer/Getty Images (2), Getty Images (3).

Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis becomes the fourth defendant to plead guilty in Georgia over her role in the effort to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election and promises to testify in the trials of the others charged. In New York, meanwhile, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen takes the stand to testify against his former boss in the financial fraud trial of Trump, his adult sons and their family business.

Georgia election interference

Jenna Ellis becomes the latest Trump lawyer to plead guilty

Key players: Former Trump-aligned lawyers Jenna Ellis, Rudy Giuliani, Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and John Eastman. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Judge Scott McAfee

  • Days after pro-Trump lawyers Chesebro and Powell pleaded guilty to election interference charges in Georgia and agreed to testify against other defendants, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis became the fourth defendant of 19 to cut a plea deal with Willis, Politico reported.

  • "If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges," an emotional Ellis said Tuesday morning as she pleaded guilty.

  • Ellis admitted to McAfee that she had spread lies about election fraud in 2020 in multiple states to help Trump remain in power.

  • “What I did not do, but should have done, Your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true,” she said.

  • As with Chesebro and Powell, the terms of the plea deal will spare her from going to prison in the event she was found guilty at trial. Instead, she must pay a $5,000 fine, serve five years’ probation, write a letter of apology to Georgia residents and, most importantly, cooperate with Willis in the prosecution of others in the case.

  • In March, Ellis was censured by a judge in Colorado for promoting false election claims. Giuliani’s law license was suspended in New York over those same claims, and Eastman is in the midst of disbarment proceedings in New York for his role in the election subversion plot.

Why it matters: Ellis has firsthand knowledge of the actions of defendants like Giuliani and Trump and she will be compelled to testify against them.

New York financial fraud

Michael Cohen takes the stand as Trump looks on

Key players: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Judge Arthur Engoron

  • Cohen took the witness stand Tuesday in the New York civil trial that will decide the penalties Trump, his adult sons and family business must pay after being found liable for years of financial fraud, Insider reported.

  • Just feet away from Cohen, Trump sat at the defense table, watching his former longtime employee-turned-antagonist testify against him about claims that he inflated the value of his business assets in order to obtain more favorable loan and insurance rates.

  • "I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected, and my responsibility, along with [former Trump Org. CFO] Allen Weisselberg, primarily, was to reverse engineer" the value of the company’s assets, “in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump tasked us,” Cohen testified.

  • Cohen was sentenced to serve three years in prison for tax evasion and other crimes committed while working for Trump. In his 2019 testimony to the House Oversight Committee, he detailed allegations that Trump had routinely inflated the value of his assets, statements that James cited as the basis for her investigation.

  • “He’s a proven liar," Trump told reporters about Cohen as he headed into court.

Why it matters: While Trump and his lawyers will continue to attack Cohen’s credibility, he is a central witness in two cases brought against the former president: the New York financial fraud civil trial and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal hush money payment case.


Monday, Oct. 23


A photo illustration showing a woman and a side view of Donald Trump against a red background with filing cabinets in the background.
Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Scott Olson/Getty Images, Stephanie Keith/Getty Images, Getty Images (7).

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump tell a federal appeals court Monday that he was not liable for defamatory comments made about writer E. Jean Carroll because he was president when he first said them. Following last week’s guilty plea in Georgia by lawyer Sidney Powell, Trump seeks to clarify their relationship. He is also preparing to confront his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen in a New York courtroom.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Trump lawyers say ‘presidential immunity’ shields him from having to pay Carroll for defamation

Key players: writer E. Jean Carroll, Judge Lewis Kaplan, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Lawyers for Trump on Monday presented their arguments that Trump should not be held liable for defamatory comments made about writer E. Jean Carroll because he was president at the time, ABC News reported.

  • “Defendant-Appellee's conduct is not properly the subject of a civil damages claim since his conduct is shielded by presidential immunity. The District Court's rejection of this defense was clearly made in error,” Trump’s attorneys wrote prior to oral arguments Monday.

  • Trump is appealing a June ruling by Kaplan that rejected the presidential immunity claims, Reuters reported. In May, a Manhattan jury found Trump had sexually abused Carroll in a New York department store changing room and later defamed her.

  • The jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages, but Trump then continued to make more defamatory remarks about her during a CNN Town Hall following the verdict. The second part of her lawsuit seeks an additional $10 million in damages, partly stemming from Trump’s subsequent comments.

  • In July 2020, Carroll’s lawyers argued, Trump waived his presidential immunity defense when his lawyers said Carroll was entitled to pursue her defamation lawsuit “when the President is no longer in office.”

  • On Monday, two of the appeals court justices questioned Trump’s lawyers about why the former president had waited so long to raise presidential immunity claims, Reuters reported, given that the case had proceeded for so long.

Why it matters: Trump’s second defamation trial is scheduled to begin in January. If allowed to go forward, it will decide how much more money Trump will have to pay Carroll.

Georgia election interference

Following Sidney Powell plea deal, Trump says she ‘was not my attorney’

Key players: Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, District Attorney Fani Willis, special counsel Jack Smith

  • Just days after Powell pleaded guilty to charges stemming from her role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, Trump sought to put distance between her and himself, NBC News reported.

  • "Despite the Fake News reports to the contrary, and without even reaching out to ask the Trump Campaign, MS. POWELL WAS NOT MY ATTORNEY, AND NEVER WAS," Trump wrote in a post on Sunday on Truth Social, his social media network.

  • As part of her plea deal, which will spare her from serving prison time in the Georgia case, Powell has agreed to testify in the trials of the other 17 people charged, including Trump.

  • Chesebro, who is credited with helping devise the alternate elector strategy to challenge the election results, has also accepted a plea deal and agreed to testify against other defendants.

Why it matters: Whether Trump hired Powell to represent him may ultimately be beside the point. She attended a White House meeting with the president and sued Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, claiming “massive election fraud.” Trump saw fit to promote a story about the lawsuit on his Twitter feed, Smith noted in his federal indictment of the former president.

New York financial fraud

Michael Cohen to testify Tuesday

Key players: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Judge Arthur Engoron, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

  • Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday and come face-to-face with his former boss, The Hill reported.

  • Cohen is one of James’s star witnesses in the $250 million civil trial to determine the penalties Trump, his adult sons and their family business must pay after being found liable by Engoron for years of financial fraud.

  • In an interview this month with CNN, Cohen said “everything that happened at the Trump Organization happened with the direct knowledge and at the direction of, and ultimately signed off by, Donald J. Trump.”

  • Trump, who has attended much of the trial, told reporters last week that “Cohen didn’t have the guts” to appear.

  • Cohen cited a “preexisting medical condition” as the reason he did not testify last week, adding that he was not afraid to testify as his former boss looked on.

Why it matters: Since serving jail time for tax evasion related to his duties when working for Trump, Cohen has become one of the former president’s fiercest critics. His testimony will be central in both the financial fraud trial as well as Bragg’s criminal case stemming from Trump’s alleged $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.