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Trump New York subpoena fight awaits ruling by judge

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Conroe, Texas, U.S., January 29, 2022.Go Nakamura | ReutersA New York judge said he will rule by Thursday afternoon on a request by the New York state attorney general that former President Donald Trump and two of his adult children comply with subpoenas seeking to question them and obtain other evidence for a civil investigation of the Trump Organization.The announcement came at the end of a contentious hearing where lawyers for Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump attacked Attorney General Letitia James for conducting what they said was a probe tainted by political bias, and a violation of the elder Trump’s constitutional rights. The Trump lawyers are seeking to block the subpoenas on those and other grounds.James is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly stated the valuations of various real estate assets to obtain more favorable loans, insurance rates and tax benefits.Trump also faces a pending criminal probe into the same issues by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. James has sent investigators from her office to assist in the DA’s probe.Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron said he will issue his ruling at 3 p.m. ET Thursday.During the hearing, which was conducted via remote video hookup, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba, several times was reprimanded by Engoron’s clerk for interrupting the judge. “Counselor when the judge speaks you need to stop talking,” the clerk told Habba, who during her arguments suggested that Hillary Clinton should be under investigation by James, and not Trump.Habba argued that the probe of Trump is unconstitutional and should be thrown out — even if James’ office has evidence of wrongdoing.”It’s per se invalid,” Habba said of the investigation. “It doesn’t matter if they find all sorts of incriminating evidence.””The evidence is irrelevant,” Habba said at another pointHabba pointed to repeated negative comments James made about Trump while campaigning for attorney general, which included vowing to investigate him for things such as money laundering.”Letitia James can’t run away from her own words,” Habba said.And the lawyer said the probe was sparked by bias by the Democrat James against Trump because he is a Republican, as opposed to legitimate questions about his business practices, which Trump’s own former personal attorney Michael Cohen has testified were corrupt.”He’s allowed to be a Republican,” Habba said. Habba also argued that Trump is a member of a “protected class,” citing his exercise of political speech as president.That legal designation is applied to groups who qualify for special protections against discrimination.”If he was not who he is, she would not be doing this, your honor,” Habba said. “That’s what my argument is.”But Engoron shot back, “He’s not a protected class.”The judge added that even if James has a grudge against Trump, that does not amount to “unlawful discrimination.”Kevin Wallace, an attorney for James’ office, responded by quoting Robert Morgenthau, the late, long-time Manhattan DA who as the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan was accused by Trump’s own late attorney Roy Cohn of bias in prosecuting Cohn.Morgenthau had said of Cohn, “A man is not immune from prosecution just because a United States attorney happens not to like him.”This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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