Trump lawyers tell NY judge that ex-president is in ‘protected class’ and shouldn’t have to testify

Former president’s attorneys say he is in a ‘protected class’ of people who should not be made to testify in court

Eric Garcia
Thursday 17 February 2022 18:32 GMT
Eric Trump almost breaks down during Fox News interview
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Lawyers for former president Donald Trump said on Thursday that New York state attorney general Letitia James is targeting the former president because they think that he can win another presidential campaign in 2024, Law & Crime reported.

Alina Habba made the statements in a hearing with the Manhattan Supreme Court along with other attorneys Ron Fischetti and Alan Futerfas. The court will determine whether Mr Trump and his two children Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump would have to comply with subpoenas for a civil investigation into the Trump Organization, according to CNBC.

Ms Habba made the argument that Mr Trump was part of a “protected class,” which was met with scepticism from the judge.

“He’s not being discriminated against based on race, is he? He’s not being discriminated against based religion, is he,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron asked lawyers.

Throughout much of the hearing, attorneys for the former president and his children cited statements from Ms James they said showed that she was deliberately targeting Mr Trump for political reasons.

But Kevin Wallace, who serves as the acting chief of the investor protection bureau for the attorney general’s office, cited a line from Robert Morgenthau, a former Manhattan district attorney, about Trump’s former mentor Roy Cohn, saying: “A man is not immune from prosecution merely because a United States attorney happens not to like him.”

At the same time, Ms Habba dismissed discussions of evidence in the hearing.

“He keeps talking about the evidence. The evidence is irrelevant if you are selectively prosecuted and there is prosecutorial misconduct,” she said.

Similarly, Mr Fischetti accused Ms James of acting as a district attorney.

“This is a unique case. This is the former president of the United States,” he said. “It'll be on the front page of every newspaper in the world.”

At the end of the hearing, Judge Engoron said he would release a decision by 3pm eastern time.

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