A New York judge who was caught smiling during the ongoing trial of former President Donald Trump is a lifelong Democrat donor who spent thousands of dollars on partisan political contributions, according to campaign finance records. This is raising questions about his impartiality.
Judge Arthur Engoron caught a great deal of flack on Monday after he appeared to pose for cameras during the trial, has contributed exclusively to Democrats over the past 25 years.
The judge has massive control over Trump’s legal fate. The state of New York’s case against Trump is being carried out as a bench trial, meaning he will not only preside over the case, but will also determine guilt and sentencing. Engoron ruled last week that no trial was needed to determine that Trump had consistently committed fraud by overstating the value of his assets, and revoked Trump’s licenses to operate his New York properties.
Now the state wants Engoron to impose a massive $250 million penalty, and permanently banish Trump from doing business in New York.
Trump called Engoron a “deranged, Trump-hating judge” who should be disbarred. During a break in the proceedings on Monday, he complained that Engoron had already made up his mind on the case.
“We’re going to be here for months with a judge that already made up his mind. It’s ridiculous,” Trump said. “He’s a Democrat judge. He’s an operative. And it’s ridiculous.”
Some critics have argued that the judge’s smile shows that he is biased against Trump. They point to his political donations as evidence of his partisan leanings. The judge’s political donations are not illegal, but they do raise concerns about her impartiality. New York state law requires judges to recuse themselves from cases where they have a financial interest. However, the law does not explicitly cover political donations.
Legal commentator Jonathan Turley also questioned the political motive behind Engoron’s decision to allow cameras in the room in the first place.