Trump’s civil fraud trial judge faces bomb threat at his home

Hours ahead of closing arguments in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, a bomb threat was made at the home of the judge overseeing the case, according to New York court and law enforcement officials.

Early Thursday morning, a “swatting” investigation was underway at the home of Judge Arthur Engoron, the Nassau County Police Department told The Independent.

“At this time it has been deemed unfounded, the investigation is ongoing,” a spokesperson for the police department said.

Mr Engoron and his court staff have faced a deluge of threats and harassment since the former president’s trial in New York County Supreme Court in lower Manhattan began in October.

The latest threat came just hours after Mr Trump’s tirade against the judge on his Truth Social, lashing out against after the court’s release of an email exchange that revealed his lawyers refusing to commit their client to limiting his outbursts in their pitch for his delivery of closing arguments this morning

It’s also the latest in a wave of violent threats targeting judges and prosecutors overseeing a growing number of legal challenges against him, and the latest alleged threat to a US official amid a string of “swatting” attempts and bomb hoaxes across the country.

Donald Trump is questioned next to Judge Arthur Engoron during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on 6 November 2023. (REUTERS)
Donald Trump is questioned next to Judge Arthur Engoron during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on 6 November 2023. (REUTERS)

The threat did not impact proceedings in the trial, which resumed at 10am on Thursday. The judge did not address the threat when he returned to the bench.

Days earlier, the judge overseeing Mr Trump’s federal election interference case, Judge Tanya Chutkan, was the target of a “swatting” incident after police received false reports of a shooting at her home on Sunday, NBC News said. Special counsel Jack Smith also was a recent target of a reported “swatting” attempt.

Swatting is the act of making a prank or fake emergency call to law enforcement in an attempt to dispatch a large number of armed officers to a location.

A lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses Mr Trump, his two adult sons and their chief associates in the Trump Organization and its sprawling real estate empire of using grossly inflated estimates of his net worth and assets in an effort to obtain favourable financing terms.

Judge Engoron’s damning pretrial judgment in September found the defendants liable for fraud, leaving the bench trial to determine how much Mr Trump and his associates should owe, and whether the attorney general is successful on other claims in her complaint, including insurance fraud and conspiracy.

Witness testimony in the lower Manhattan courtroom concluded last month after roughly 11 weeks.

The judge issued a pair of gag orders to prohibit parties and attorneys from disparaging the judge’s staff. A state appeals court upheld those terms, after court officials revealed the scale and volatility of credible death threats and violent messages that followed Mr Trump’s outbursts.

On Wednesday, the court released a series of email exchanges between Judge Engoron and attorneys for both parties to discuss scheduling and timing for closing arguments.

Last week, Mr Trump’s lead attorney Christopher Kise said Mr Trump himself planned to deliver remarks.

The judge agreed, on the condition that he only discuss “relevant, material facts that are in evidence” and may not “testify” or “delivera campaign speech” from the defence table or “comment on irrelevant matters,” the judge wrote to attorneys on 5 January. If he violated the terms of the gag orders, he could be subject to removal from the courtroom and $50,000 in fines, Judge Engoron wrote.

Mr Kise objected to the conditions and appeared to refuse to answer whether his client would agree to them before the judge’s deadline.

In an all-caps attack on his Truth Social on Wednesday night, Mr Trump said the judge and Ms James are “working closely together to ‘screw me’ even though I have done nothing wrong.”

“MEAN & NASTY,” he wrote.