- LaPierre wants permission to stop and start his upcoming testimony depending on how he’s feeling.
- Early Monday, the judge asked to see doctors’ affidavits before approving such an arrangement.
- LaPierre then watched and took notes as Oliver North testified against him all day Monday.
The New York corruption trial involving NRA leader Wayne LaPierre took an unexpected turn when the judge requested sworn statements from his doctors to verify his claimed health condition. LaPierre’s lawyers argue that he is too unwell to endure lengthy testimony, and this dispute has now become a prominent issue in the trial.
During the court proceedings, state Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen expressed his belief in the necessity of having affidavits. “I do think there should be affidavits,” he stated before the civil jury was brought in for the day.
Wayne LaPierre, the long-time leader of the gun-lobby, made the announcement just three days before the trial was set to begin on January 8th. After serving as the helm of the organization for 30 years, LaPierre revealed that he would be stepping down at the end of the month due to health reasons. His lawyers later disclosed that he is suffering from chronic Lyme disease.
LaPierre is set to give his testimony before the trial concludes this week. The New York attorney general’s office has accused top executives of diverting tens of millions of donor dollars into their personal accounts and the accounts of preferred vendors. They also allege that the nonprofit organization facilitated this corruption.
LaPierre’s lawyers recently submitted two letters from his doctors, which were written three weeks ago. These letters serve as evidence of his ongoing struggles with even the simplest tasks, as stated by an infectious disease specialist. Additionally, his internist noted that he has experienced significant cerebral volume loss.
In the submitted letters, dated January 3, the doctors address NRA president Charles Cotton, providing evidence that LaPierre’s illness prevents him from testifying for the entire day.
The defense requested that the leader of the gun lobby be given the flexibility to pause and resume his testimony as needed, depending on his physical and emotional well-being.
In a recent filing, Attorney General Letitia James’ lawyers pushed back against LaPierre’s request for “broad and undefined relief that could cause significant disruptions” to the state’s ongoing case.
Despite his condition, LaPierre has been regularly attending the trial and carrying on as the NRA’s chief executive, as noted in the AG’s filing.
Additionally, the Attorney General’s filing stated that Mr. LaPierre is requesting this relief without offering sufficient evidence or giving enough notice to the Court and the Plaintiff. This lack of preparation makes it difficult for the Plaintiff to arrange for additional witnesses to be present in order to address any potential gaps in testimony.
During the Monday morning hearing, the judge expressed his lack of enthusiasm regarding the timing of the events. He also pointed out that the doctors’ notes lack verification and signatures.
LaPierre has been present for almost every day of the two-week trial, only missing two out of the four days of jury selection.
The gun lobby leader, after discussing his health on Monday, took a seat in the front row of the courtroom. There, he attentively listened to the testimony against him provided by Oliver North, a friend-turned-whistleblower and retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel who had served as the president of the NRA in 2018 and 2019.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, 74, observed attentively, jotting down his observations on a compact yellow legal pad.
Oliver North, aged 80, who played a pivotal role in the Iran-Contra scandal during the 1980s, testified before the jury, revealing his close friendship with LaPierre. North even attended the wedding of the NRA leader back in 1998.
LaPierre approved a substantial salary package for North, amounting to $5 million over three years, without obtaining the necessary pre-approval from the NRA audit committee, as noted by North.
According to the testimony, North started raising concerns about excessive spending, including the allocation of millions of dollars to a specific law firm called Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors. As a result, LaPierre took action and removed North from his position.
Wayne LaPierre was repeatedly informed by me about the exorbitant bills from Brewer. In response, he would often say, “Brewer is the very reason I won’t be spending the rest of my life in an orange jumpsuit.”
North compared the internal conflict over the alleged financial improprieties to a scenario of a “circular firing squad.”
“I wasn’t attempting to stage a coup,” North stated. “My actions were not aimed at getting Mr. LaPierre dismissed,” he clarified.
According to North, when he called for an external audit of the NRA’s finances in early 2019, his intention was to put an end to the internal conflicts within the organization. He believed that these conflicts were causing significant harm to the NRA.
“I had no intention of causing any harm to the NRA,” North stated confidently while on the witness stand. As he spoke, LaPierre, still diligently taking notes, became visibly engaged, vigorously underlining a particular section three or four times in his notepad.
North explained that his intention was to safeguard Wayne LaPierre. The judge has yet to announce when he will establish the guidelines for LaPierre’s testimony, which might commence as soon as Wednesday.