Police on Long Island responded Thursday morning to a bomb threat at the home of Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud case, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told NBC News.
The threat came hours before closing arguments in the trial were scheduled to begin, with those arguments expected to proceed.
A Nassau County bomb squad was called to Engoron’s home and was investigating Thursday morning; it is unclear whether Engoron was home at the time.
On Wednesday, there was a tense email exchange between Engoron and Trump attorney Chris Kise over whether Trump could speak at closing arguments. Engoron ultimately denied the request.
There was a delay in processing reporters and lawyers through security lines into the courthouse where closing arguments are taking place because of the alleged bomb threat.
Outside the courthouse, protesters chanted behind a banner that said, “No Dictators in the USA,” briefly blocking traffic before law enforcement officers moved them out of the way.
Trump had asked to deliver part of the closing arguments himself, but Engoron rejected the request Wednesday in a contentious email exchange with Trump’s lawyers after the former president refused to commit to only speaking about the facts of the case and not engage in any attacks.
“You are not allowing President Trump, who has been wrongfully demeaned and belittled by an out of control, politically motivated Attorney General, to speak about things that must be spoken about,” Trump attorney Kise wrote in an email to Engoron.
Engoron replied, “Take it or leave it. Now or never,” and gave Kise seven minutes to agree to his terms. Kise did not respond, prompting Engoron to say Trump won’t testify.
Trump, however, is still expected to attend closing arguments in Engoron’s courtroom Thursday. Before he participated in a town hall in Iowa on Wednesday night, Trump said he was being “forced” to return to New York for the closing arguments, despite having no obligation to attend.
“This is a rigged and unfair trial,” he wrote in a post to his Truth Social platform.
Engoron is presiding over a bench trial in the $370 million lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump, the Trump Organization and top executives, including Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., in 2022 after a yearslong investigation into their business practices. Because there is no jury in the trial, Engoron will issue a ruling and any penalties.
Engoron and James have become the target of attacks by Trump and his allies. The judge in October issued a partial gag order on Trump after he made disparaging remarks about Engoron’s law clerk on social media and to the news media. The former president was fined twice for violating the gag order. Engoron expanded the gag order in November to also include Trump’s lawyers.
Trump appealed the gag order, arguing that was unconstitutional. But a state appeals court reinstated it, arguing that it was necessary due to the “deluge” of threats directed at the clerk after Trump had taken aim at her on social media.
A state appeals court again upheld the gag order against Trump a day after testimony wrapped in the trial last month, ruling that Trump’s lawyers had erroneously sued Engoron instead of following the usual appeals process by first asking the judge to reverse the gag order.
In her lawsuit, James accuses Trump of engaging in fraud by falsely overvaluing his assets and properties in financial documents for more than a decade.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and maintained that his properties were actually worth more than the financial statements showed. He has also repeatedly insisted that the civil fraud lawsuit is part of an effort to interfere with his 2024 presidential campaign, in which he remains the GOP primary front-runner.
“I’ve been sitting in a courthouse all day long instead of being in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or a lot of other places I could be at,” Trump said after the first day of the civil fraud trial in October. “This is a horrible situation for our country.”
“It’s election interference,” he added.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com
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