Trump subpoena of outside lawyer over chat with NY civil fraud judge narrowed

The New York judge overseeing former President Trump’s civil fraud case narrowed a subpoena issued to an outside lawyer who said he offered unsolicited advice about the case as the judge’s multimillion-dollar decision was pending.

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled Tuesday that Trump’s subpoena of New York real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey sought to achieve an “improper wholesale fishing expedition” of any communications between himself and the lawyer, noting that Bailey and his firm had appeared before his court “often” and that unrelated conversations would likely be swept up in the broad request.

However, Engoron conceded that the subpoena was not “wholly without merit,” asserting that Bailey’s “extraordinary claims to the media” opened the door for Trump’s lawyers to seek any communications or documents related to their conversation.

On Feb. 16, the day Engoron handed down a judgment of $464 million — plus additional interest — against Trump for altering his net worth for tax and insurance benefits, Bailey said in an interview with NBC New York that he approached the judge weeks earlier to offer unsolicited advice about the case.

“I saw him in the corner [at the courthouse], and I told my client, ‘I need to go.’ And I walked over and we started talking. … I wanted him to know what I think and why … I really want him to get it right,” Bailey told NBC New York.

Bailey later added that “the word ‘Donald Trump'” was never mentioned in the conversation, but when asked if it was clear they were discussing Trump’s case, he replied, “Well, obviously we weren’t talking about the Mets.”

The conversation led Trump’s attorneys to demand that Engoron recuse himself from the case, purporting the judge improperly discussed it with an outside party.

Engoron has not yet ruled on the matter, but a spokesperson for the court said at the time that the judge’s decision in Trump’s case “was his alone, was deeply considered and was wholly uninfluenced” by Bailey.

Bailey previously told The Hill that his remarks to NBC New York were “off the record” and said he “only discussed with the Judge the September Summary Judgment decision,” where Engoron found Trump and his co-defendants liable for fraud.

Engoron directed Bailey to turn over any responsive documents to Trump’s attorneys within one week.

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