Chicago, IL

Lawyers Want to Stop Inclusion of Former Alderman's Tax Work for Trump Tower During Corruption Trial

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Defense lawyers for indicted former 14th Ward Ald. Edward Burke want to bar mention of his law firm winning big property tax breaks for Donald Trump’s downtown Chicago tower, saying it would be prejudicial due to Trump being “despised by a significant percentage of the population”

Lawyers for former 14th Ward Alderman Edward Burke are making a controversial request – they are seeking to prevent any mention of Burke's law firm's successful efforts to secure substantial property tax breaks for Donald Trump's iconic downtown Chicago skyscraper, Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Burke's legal team argues that bringing up his work for Trump Tower could unfairly prejudice the jury against him due to the polarizing nature of the former president. In a motion filed recently, they contend that associating Burke with Trump, who is "despised by a significant percentage of the population," could create significant bias against the ex-alderman. They argue that telling jurors about this association is "fraught with the likelihood of unfair prejudice."

While the sweeping racketeering charges against Burke revolve around his alleged misuse of his powerful position at City Hall to benefit his law firm, Klafter & Burke, there is no specific mention of Trump Tower in the indictment.

Prosecutors have not signaled any intent to bring up Burke's work for Trump during the trial, which is scheduled to commence on November 6 at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.

This development coincides with a civil trial against Donald Trump in New York, where he faces allegations of manipulating property values to secure favorable loan rates and lower tax bills, including at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. The latter is cited as an example of how Trump allegedly manipulated property valuations for financial gain.

Furthermore, Trump faces three separate criminal indictments related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election and concealing top-secret government documents at his Florida golf estate.

In their bid to bar certain evidence, Burke's attorneys have also revealed secretly recorded conversations that could be presented at the trial. These conversations include discussions between Burke and various individuals, some unrelated to the charges against him.

As the trial date approaches, the question of whether Burke's association with Trump Tower will play a role remains unanswered, but his legal team is adamant about preventing it from influencing the proceedings.

The trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall, is expected to span approximately one month.

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