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Trump New York civil fraud verdict delayed to as late as mid-February

Former U.S. president Donald Trump, center, arrives at New York State Supreme Court in New York on Jan. 11.  (Alex Kent/Bloomberg)
By Erik Larson and Patricia Hurtado Bloomberg

The verdict in New York state’s $370 million civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump may not come until mid-February, the court said Friday – two days after the judge missed a self-imposed deadline to issue his decision in the case.

Trump, the likely Republican nominee for the November presidential election, has been highly critical of the nonjury trial since it wrapped up Jan. 11, issuing public comments accusing Justice Arthur Engoron of bias and lobbing insults at New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the suit.

“It’s looking like early to mid-February, as a rough estimate, and subject to modifications,” Al Baker, a spokesman for the court in Manhattan, said Friday in an emailed statement. “But that’s the working plan now.” No reason was given for the delay.

The delay pushes the verdict closer to the Feb. 24 South Carolina primary, where Nikki Haley, the state’s Republican former governor, seeks to show voters and donors she’s still a viable candidate against the billionaire. Trump also faces a decision at any time from the federal appeals court in Washington over whether he’s immune from prosecution over his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Separately, Trump is planning an appeal of an $83.3 million jury verdict against him in a defamation suit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, raising the prospect of another drawn-out court battle while the former president campaigns. He’s also facing four criminal trials, including in the election-obstruction case, if his immunity argument fails.

Engoron, who frequently clashed with Trump and his lawyers, said last month at the end of the roughly 11-week trial that he’d aim to issue a verdict by Jan. 31. He held Trump liable for fraud before trial, but he must still decide six additional claims as well as penalties, including a possible lifetime ban on Trump participating in the New York real estate market.

James said she sued Trump after a three-year probe found he inflated the value of his assets by as much as $3.6 billion a year for more than a decade to get better terms on loans from Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders. While the banks didn’t lose money, James says New York law is clear that falsified records can’t be used in business transactions and that any “illegal profit” from such conduct must be clawed back.

Trump denies wrongdoing in all the cases and alleges they’re part of a coordinated “witch hunt” against him led by Democrats.