A former federal prosecutor went after Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) on Friday, saying her ethics complaint against the judge presiding over former President Trump’s New York business fraud trail is “irresponsible.”
“She knows better,” Andrew Weissmann told MSNBC on Friday. “And that is really — this idea that it’s constantly a step too far and it’s now normalized where you have somebody in Congress doing that and the judge is just doing his job.”
Weissmann, who was a federal prosecutor in New York and the FBI’s general counsel, described Stefanik as one of “a number of enablers” for Trump.
“You may disagree with him,” he said, referring to the judge. “You can say that. You can say he’s missed evidence. But really? A complaint against him for doing his job? Beyond the pale.”
Stefanik’s complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron alleges that the judge has shown “inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance” against Trump in the case.
Her letter also echoes many of the same arguments Trump’s legal team has in protesting the trial, brought forth by New York Attorney General Letitia James, in which prosecutors are seeking to strip the former president and his adult sons of their state business licenses.
Engoron already ruled that Trump committed business fraud by manipulating the value of his assets, the trial is set to determine damages. Prosecutors are seeking at least $250 million in penalties.
Trump took the stand in the trail on Monday, going on random stump-speech-like tangents which sparked rebuke from Engoron towards Trump’s lawyer, Chris Kise.
“Mr. Kise, can you control your client? This is not a political rally,” Engoron said.
Much of Stefanik’s complaints were over a partial gag order imposed on Trump and his attorneys preventing him from bad-mouthing employees of the court and case witnesses. He has been fined a total of $15,000 for two violations of the order.
“If anyone in America must have the constitutional right to speak out against the judge, his staff, the witnesses, or the process, it’s a defendant going through a process he believes is politicized and weaponized against him,” Stefanik wrote. “To gag a defendant is un-American.”
The seven-week trial remains ongoing.
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