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Trump’s Courtroom Drama: No Personal Closing Argument Allowed!

Credit: Axios

In a scene straight out of a legal drama TV show, but with fewer dramatic pauses and no commercial breaks, former President Trump has been told he can’t make his own closing argument in his New York civil fraud trial. It’s like being at the final round of ‘America’s Got Talent’ and being told you can’t perform your show-stopping number.

Picture this: Trump, ready to take the stage for his grand finale in court, is stopped in his tracks. Judge Arthur Engoron, in a move that could be a plot twist in a John Grisham novel, decided that Trump will not be speaking in court, after his lawyers couldn’t promise he’d stick to the script.

The email exchange between Engoron and Trump’s legal team, which could probably be its own Netflix series, showed a lively debate over what Trump would be allowed to say. It’s like negotiating the rules of a school debate, but with higher stakes and more lawyers.

Last week, Trump’s attorney Chris Kise told the judge that Trump himself planned to deliver closing remarks. This prompted a quick objection from the New York attorney general’s office, essentially saying, “Hold up, that’s not how this works.”

Engoron laid out the ground rules: Trump could speak if he kept his comments relevant and refrained from turning the courtroom into a campaign rally. “He may not ‘testify.’ He may not comment on irrelevant matters,” Engoron wrote. It’s like telling someone they can have the microphone, but only if they promise not to sing.

The judge was ready to play courtroom bouncer, too. If Trump strayed off-topic, Engoron threatened to cut him off mid-sentence, or even boot him from the courtroom and slap him with a fine. It’s courtroom drama with a side of reality TV suspense.

Trump’s team, however, wasn’t thrilled with these conditions. Kise called them “fraught with ambiguities” – lawyer-speak for “too risky.” There was even a back-and-forth about delaying closing remarks because of a family bereavement, but Engoron wasn’t budging.

“This is very unfair, your honor,” Kise said, sounding like a contestant arguing with a reality show judge. Engoron’s reply? “Take it or leave it. Now or never.” It’s like a high-stakes game of legal ‘Deal or No Deal.’

In the end, Trump was barred from making his closing argument. “Is anyone surprised anymore?” said Trump attorney Alina Habba, probably with an eye roll.

Throughout the case, Trump and Engoron have been like two chefs who can’t agree on the recipe. Trump has thrown insults at the judge and the state attorney general, calling them names you’d expect in a schoolyard spat rather than a courtroom. 

The trial’s closing remarks are still set to go ahead, with both sides getting their chance to sway the judge. Engoron, acting as both judge and jury, could decide the case before month’s end. It’s like the season finale of a courtroom drama, except the verdict is real, and the stakes are high.

So, there you have it: a courtroom saga with all the twists and turns of a political thriller. Trump’s legal tussle has had more drama than a daytime soap opera, and this latest development is just another episode in the series. Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘As the Courtroom Turns.’