Dem AG Goes After Trump Family, Is This Even Legal?

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, has expressed frustration with Trump’s repeated legal strategies.

In a recent legal document, Letitia James urged a Manhattan judge to charge Donald Trump, his two elder sons, and their attorneys $10,000 each for presenting the same “baseless” legal defenses in her $250 million business-fraud lawsuit against them.

James contends that Trump’s legal team has, over the past year and as recently as last week, repeatedly put forth these defenses in the ongoing lawsuit set for trial on October 2.

Among their defenses, they argue that the lawsuit is politically driven, and that James lacks the legal grounds to sue because Trump’s purported business frauds didn’t negatively affect the public.

Reacting to this, Trump’s lawyer, Clifford Roberts, stated that James’s motion was in itself baseless, though he did not offer further comments.

This latest series of accusations emerged last week when James sought a pretrial resolution for parts or the entirety of the case.

In opposing this preliminary move, Trump once again relied on previous arguments, doubting James’ legal authority and her ability to bring forth the case.

Additionally, Trump reiterated an argument stating that caveats in his disputed financial reports advised banks against fully trusting his figures. These disclaimers, he mentioned in a past deposition, rendered the reports “non-credible.”

James, in a legal document filed Tuesday, pointed out that the court had already dismissed these three defenses – about legal authority, ability, and the reports’ supposed “non-credibility” – in rulings from October 2022.

New York Supreme Court Justice, Arthur Engoron, had earlier determined that such a disclaimer was in itself non-credible, as the clause’s language made it evident that Trump was entirely accountable for the details presented.

Justice Engoron emphasized that general disclaimers shouldn’t protect dishonest statements in banking reports.

After initially dismissing the aforementioned three defenses, Engoron once again rejected them a month later when Trump attempted to have the entire case thrown out.

Engoron had, at that time, commented that such defense tactics were nearly baseless from the onset, a sentiment echoed by James in her recent filing.

Last week, Trump’s dismissal attempts resurfaced, with James urging Engoron to impose the highest possible penalties. She believes this is warranted since the court had previously warned the defendants and their attorneys against repeating already-dismissed defenses.

James is currently pushing for sanctions amounting to $220,000, which breaks down to $10,000 for each involved party. This includes the Trump Organization and other related entities, as well as individuals and lawyers.

The crux of James’ lawsuit is the allegation that Trump and his business consistently overvalued his assets in financial reports spanning a decade. By doing so, banks provided them with substantial loans at favorable rates. Conversely, James also accuses Trump of undervaluing his assets in other reports to reduce property tax obligations.

Although Trump denies any wrongdoing, he reiterated many of these defenses in a recent deposition.

Justice Engoron hasn’t delivered a verdict on James’ requests for an early decision or penalties. Likewise, he hasn’t addressed the plea from Trump’s team to dismiss the entire lawsuit. However, he has committed to commencing the trial on October 2.

Engoron, who’ll oversee the trial without a jury, had previously penalized Trump for not fully adhering to James’ demands for his personal business records. There’s an indication that this might result in added penalties.