In a shocking turn of events, the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud case, Arthur Engoron, faced a bomb threat at his home, located in Nassau County, east of New York City, according to reports from Sky News’s US partner network NBC News.
Law enforcement in Nassau County responded promptly to the threat on Thursday, as the trial is reaching its conclusion with scheduled closing arguments set for the same day. The bomb squad was called to Judge Engoron’s home, though it remains unclear if he was present during the incident.
The previous day, Chris Kise, the former president’s lawyer, made a request for Mr. Trump to speak during the closing arguments, a plea that the judge rejected. This incident has raised concerns about the safety of the legal proceedings.
Al Baker, the court spokesman, assured the public that security measures would be heightened following the threat against Judge Engoron. However, specific details about the nature of the threat were not disclosed.
Despite the bomb threat, Donald Trump is expected to attend the court proceedings. The state of New York is seeking nearly $370 million (£291 million) in penalties from the former president, accusing him of overstating his net worth to banks. The developments surrounding the trial and the bomb threat inject an unexpected layer of tension into an already high-profile case.
He took part in a campaign event in Iowa on Wednesday night and said he was being “forced” to return to New York for the closing arguments, despite there being no obligation for him to be present.
“This is a rigged and unfair trial,” he wrote in a post on social media.
Because of the alleged threat, there was a delay in processing lawyers and members of the media through security lines into court on Thursday morning.
Protesters, meanwhile, chanted behind with banner reading “No Dictators in the USA” while briefly blocking traffic.
Mr Engoron will issue a verdict at a later date without a jury, after he found Mr Trump liable for fraud in September – leaving the trial to focus on how much money he should surrender as ill-gotten gains.
The lawsuit, brought forward by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges Mr Trump and his associates inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars to secure better loan terms.
Trump’s court cameo will continue to propel his popularity whilst Prosecutor warns of ‘frightening future’ if Trump wins case.
Mr Trump, who has decried the case as a political with hunt, has denied wrongdoing.
The frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination has complained the trial interferes with his campaign, though he uses court appearances to rally support with inflammatory remarks to news cameras.
But Mr Engoron denied his attempt to make his own closing argument after Mr Trump refused to accept rules barring him from making a “campaign speech”.
The lawsuit is just one of many legal troubles Mr Trump faces as he campaigns to challenge President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election.