Fox lawyer Jonathan Turley defended Trump's property valuation lies as victimless (they weren't) while he and anchor John Roberts aided and abetted MAGA attacks on the New York fraud trial judge, Arthur Engoron.
Today, Team Trump began presenting its defense in the New York fraud trial. The Daily Beast reported that with Trump “running out of viable options,” he and his lawyers “have shifted their focus from trying to win in this downtown courtroom to a full-on attack against the judge and his top adviser.” But given the gag orders, Trump has turned to outside help to delegitimize the trial. Most notably, Rep. Elise Stefanik has further sullied her reputation by filing what she almost surely knows is a bogus ethics complaint against the judge.
On today's America Reports show, Fox “News” anchor John Roberts and contributor Jonathan Turley, who somehow remains a law professor at The George Washington University Law School, did their part for the MAGA undermining of the rule of law.
First, Roberts gave a friendly framing of co-defendant Donald Trump Jr.’s attack on the trial in a not-so-subtle hint to Turley about which team he was there to play for:
ROBERTS: Trump's legal team presenting its case in the ongoing New York civil fraud trial. His attorney, Alina Habba, hinting that she will be filing a mistrial “very soon.” More on that in just a second. Let's bring in Jonathan Turley, constitutional law attorney and a Fox News contributor.
So, Professor, Donald Trump Jr. was back on the stand today this time, testifying on behalf of the defense. Judge Engoron said, “Welcome back.” Donald Trump Jr. responded, “I would say it's good to be here but I'm afraid that the attorney general would sue me for perjury.” Little sardonic wit there, but it does kind of demonstrate what he believes is the bias against him and his family.
Turley, unsurprisingly, took the cue, even as he feigned neutrality.
TURLEY: Well, it's a view that is shared by millions of people and there's some support for it. You know, I think there is evidence that some property was overvalued. That is a very common problem in New York real estate, is a common practice. The question is why the Attorney General has opted for this nuclear option to go for hundreds of millions of dollars, bar Trump from doing business in New York. And the answer is, she ran on these types of pledges. That's why she's there.
You know, you watch these proceedings, and she's right there in the background, just beaming with pride as if she's at the spot of a thrill kill. And that's what it is. You know, she promised that she would bag Trump and his family. She didn't say what she would do it on. And this is really the result. They're using a New York law that is virtually unique. It does not require that anyone lost money, does not require that any business is a victim. It just allows the Attorney General to go after these oversized penalties against someone who is obviously very unpopular in New York City.
Notice anything missing from Turley’s attack on the attorney general and the New York law? Whether or not Trump committed fraud and whether or not it hurt businesses. I think we all know why. Because, according to the state’s expert witness, banks lost out on more than $168 million in interest because Trump inflated his net worth.
But regardless of what Turley thinks of New York’s law, if Trump committed fraud, he broke the law whether anyone lost money or not, according to Turley. Funny how neither he nor Roberts seemed to think that worthy of a mention.
Next, Roberts suggested the judge is prejudiced (just like Team MAGA does!) and cued Turley go after him, too. “Judge Engoron has already determined that the Trumps are guilty,” Roberts said. Then he played a clip of Trump Junior saying, “I’m apparently guilty of fraud for relying on my accountants to do – wait for it: accounting.”
Nobody pointed out that Engoron wrote a 35-page decision explaining his fraud ruling. Its essence, PBS NewsHour reported, was that the judge found that “Beyond mere bragging about his riches, Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums.”
Turley allowed as how he’s “not too sure” there’s a viable mistrial option. But he was all in on an appeal of “either extreme.” He meant, “If the judge goes and bars him from New York and imposes hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, it’s going to raise serious questions on appeal,” Turley opined. “Otherwise, if the judge yields to some of this evidence and reduces those damages, then the Trump family can continue to do business in New York.”
Yeah, why wait for the decision or even the end of the trial before declaring the judge shouldn’t be too harsh on Trump?
Turley went on to paint Trump Jr. as a victim – because everybody has always known Daddy Trump’s a liar!
TURLEY: In some ways, you can't blame a Trump Jr. from feeling like this is a play that is continuing after the audience has already left. I mean that the judge has already said that the Trump Corporation is guilty of fraud. And so the only effort here for the Trump team is to create that record for review later. And they're really hammering away at the fact that these estimates came with a disclaimer that said “Don't take our word for it.”
Trump was well known to overvalue property. I remember when I worked with another network, we looked at one of his his bank filings, and it had billions of dollars just for name recognition. The funny thing about that is that it wasn't really fraud because he was saying “That's how I got to this number. I actually think my name's worth billions of dollars.”
So this case sort of grows out of that. That is the practice in New York, and also the fact that none of the banks complained none of them lost money. No one lost money. And the bottom line with real estate, I mean, the bottom line with anything, particularly with celebrity name attached to it is, it is worth whatever anyone is willing to pay for it.
Roberts gave a stamp of approval: “Jonathan Turley always good to see you. Thank you.” Of course, Roberts almost surely knows that propaganda matters more than facts or journalism at Fox “News.”
You can watch Roberts and Turley give Trump a pass on fraud below, from the November 13, 2023 America Reports.