A New York judge on Friday refused to drop the state’s attorney general’s civil fraud case against former President Donald J. Trump, raising the possibility of a trial this fall.
In a sharply worded order, Judge Arthur F. Engoron of the Manhattan State Supreme Court gave another victory to Attorney General Letitia James by rejecting Mr. Trump’s proposal to dismiss the case. In September, Ms. James filed a lawsuit accusing Mr Trump, his three adult children, and their family business of overestimating billions of dollars in assets.
In his written order, Judge Engoron said some of the allegations made repeatedly by Mr Trump’s lawyers were “nonsense” and “borderline senseless even when the defendants first made them”.
The judge also rejected an attempt by Mr Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who was named as a defendant in Ms James’ trial, to dismiss the charges against her.
“Once again,” Ms James said in a statement, “Donald Trump’s attempts to evade the law have been denied.” The ruling “makes it clear that Donald Trump is not above the law and must be held accountable for his actions in court,” he added.
What You Need to Know About the Trump Investigations
Lots of inquiries. Since leaving office, former President Donald J. Trump has faced several investigations into his trade deals and political activities. Here’s a look at some key cases:
Query confidential documents. The FBI searched Mr. Trump’s home in Florida as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into his use of classified materials. The investigation focuses on documents that Mr. Trump brought with him when he left the White House to his private club and residence, Mar-a-Lago.
January 6 investigations. In a series of public hearings, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack put forward a comprehensive account of Mr Trump’s efforts to disrupt the 2020 election. This evidence could allow federal prosecutors conducting a parallel criminal investigation to indict Mr Trump.
Case of interference in Georgia elections Atlanta district attorney Fani T. Willis is conducting a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the efforts of Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse the 2020 election loss in Georgia. This case may pose the most immediate legal danger to the former president and his vice presidents.
Civil case of the State of New York. New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Mr Trump, the family business, and their three adult children of fraudulently inflating the value of their assets by lying to lenders and insurers. The allegations included in an extensive lawsuit are the result of years of legal investigation.
Manhattan criminal case. Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg is investigating, among other things, whether Mr. Trump or his family business knowingly provided false property values to potential lenders. As a result of the investigation, the Trump Organization was convicted on December 6 of tax evasion and other crimes.
An attorney for Mr Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Trump’s lawyers argued, among other things, that the former president, a Republican, was “elected and subject to selective treatment” by Ms James’ office, and that she was acting out of personal and political animosity.
These arguments, versions of which lawyers articulated in court documents last year as they tried to thwart the attorney general’s investigation, reflect Mr Trump’s long-standing allegation that Mrs. .
Judge Engoron contested Mr Trump’s latest claim regarding the allegation. In a letter he wrote this week, he suggested he could punish the former president’s lawyers for “meaningless lawsuits”, saying they continue to rely on legal arguments he previously rejected.
In response, Mr. Trump’s lawyers said they ethically had to reconsider the arguments.
“The defendants and counsel have no intention of contempt of this court and in no way seek to prolong or delay this trial,” they wrote in their letter. “Under such circumstances, sanctions are not warranted for defending views that respectfully disagree with the views of both the plaintiff and this court.”
Kevin Wallace, a lawyer from Ms. James’ office, urged the judge to impose sanctions, which would likely come in the form of fines to Mr Trump’s lawyers. Mr Wallace said some of the allegations lacked a bona fide legal basis and appeared “calculated to delay trial”.
“This court (and at least two other courts) firmly rejected the ‘witch hunt’ argument,” Judge Engoron wrote on Friday. Ultimately, he decided not to impose sanctions “which the court believed to be unnecessary, stating its purpose”.
Ms. James in a suit, Mr. Trump, Ivanka and their son Donald Trump Jr. and Eric lied to lenders and insurers about the value of the former president’s assets. The lawsuit says they did this to secure favorable loan terms and lower their insurance premiums.
“The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering and affects most, if not all, real estate assets in any given year,” the lawsuit says.
The judge scheduled a hearing for early October, just months before the 2024 presidential primaries kick off, but the parties can try to settle the matter before then.
Judge Engoron presided over the case for years – first overseeing a protracted battle over Ms. James’ efforts to gather evidence from Mr. Trump and his company, and now he’s handling the case himself – and has at times expressed his frustration with Mr. Trump. and their lawyers. In April, he despised Mr Trump for failing to comply with Mrs James’ subpoena.
In November, after Ms. James sued Mr. Trump and her family, Judge Engoron appointed Barbara S. Jones, a former federal judge, as an independent observer to oversee the Trump Organization’s use of its annual financial statements. she says she overvalued the company’s assets in her suit. In a previous order, Judge Engoron said Ms Jones would also monitor any corporate restructuring or “distribution of any significant assets”.
Judge Jones said he started the monitoring process last month and that the Trump Organization is cooperating.
Miss James’ outfit tries to keep the Trumps from running business in New York again. His office, which was not authorized to prosecute in this case, referred some of the charges to federal prosecutors in Manhattan for investigation.
In addition to calling the case part of a witch hunt, Mr. Trump accused Ms. James, who is Black, of being “racist” towards him.
Mr. Trump is also being investigated by Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg, whose office quickly launched an investigation into the former president and re-examined his involvement in a 2016 silence payment to a porn star. presidential campaign.