A New York judge rejected motions to dismiss a NYS Attorney General Letitia James’ case against former President Donald Trump.
New York County Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron described the motions by Trump’s lawyers as frivolous. “Finally, this court (and at least 2 others) has soundly rejected the ‘witch hunt’ argument,” Engoron explained in his nine-page Friday ruling.
James filed a civil action against the 45th president and three of his children after conducting a three-year investigation of Trump business practices. James alleges the Trumps inflated property values to obtain loans and deflated them when filing tax returns.
The state attorney general has asked the county Supreme Court, which in N.Y. is a trial-level court, to penalize the Trumps $250 million and permanently bar them from serving as an officer or director of any corporation registered or licensed by N.Y.
Engoron has already found that James had “demonstrated defendants’ propensity to engage in persistent fraud arising out of the submission of annual Statements of Financial Condition (SFCs) for defendant Donald J. Trump.”
Trump attorneys argued the attorney general lacks capacity and standing to sue and that disclaimers issued by their financial auditors insulated Trump from fraud charges and the case is a “witch hunt.” Engoron called the first three arguments borderline frivolous and rejected the witch hunt accusation.
The justice noted that NYS may sanction (financially penalize or disbar) attorneys who bring frivolous legal actions.
Trump attorneys argue sanctions are inappropriate because the preliminary injunction earlier issued by Engoron was just that — preliminary, not a finding on the merits of the case. They also claimed that not raising the issues could be considered as waiving those arguments, which would prevent them being used in an appeal.
Engoron addressed the arguments against sanctions in a serial manner, concluding they lacked merit.
“Notwithstanding the above, in its discretion, this Court will not impose sanctions, which the Court believes are unnecessary, having made its point,” Engoron explained.
New York’s civil case against the Trumps will proceed, but their attorneys dodged a bullet when the Court exercised discretion to not sanction them.