Former President Donald Trump and his children will not be able to evade the $250 million fraud lawsuit filed against them by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron denied Trump’s motion to dismiss James’ lawsuit, which targets the former president and his children Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump. The lawsuit alleges that the Trumps committed extensive tax fraud from 2011 to 2021 and seeks to bar Trump, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation.
Engoron’s ruling was relentless in its rejection of the Trumps’ arguments in support of their effort to dismiss the case.
“The first three arguments were borderline frivolous even the first time defendants made them,” Engoron wrote, noting that he had previously rejected the Trumps’ position that James, in her capacity as attorney general, didn’t have the right to sue, that she didn’t have standing to sue, and that the case is a “witch hunt.”
Engoron said the Trumps’ repetition of those arguments “adds nothing new” to their motion to dismiss.
The judge implied that the defendants may have been unnecessarily wordy in their filings, noting that while the Trumps’ legal team at one point cited around 21 cases to make a point, “as a simple rule of thumb, three is enough for most purposes.”
Engoron notes that while he could rightfully impose sanctions for “frivolous litigation” on Trump’s “sophisticated defense” lawyers who “should have known better,” he will not.
“Notwithstanding the above, in its discretion this Court will not impose sanctions, which the Court believes are unnecessary, having made its point,” Engoron writes in the order.
The judge separately addressed a distinct motion by Ivanka Trump to dismiss the complaint against her specifically. In addition to the standard dismissal argument — that the complaint fails to sufficiently plead allegations against her — she had argued that the statue of limitations against her has run, since she left the Trump Organization in 2017.
Engoron said that pandemic-era court rules temporarily paused the time on the statute of limitations. The judge also implied that the former first daughter’s statements that she “does not understand statements of financial condition” — despite communicating directly with a bank about such statements — may not hold water if the case goes to a jury trial.
“It is well-settled that triers of fact determine the credibility of witnesses,” Engoron warned before noting that “such a credibility determination is premature” on a motion to dismiss.
Engoron’s ruling is the latest defeat for the one-time president, who attempted to sideline James’ lawsuit with a lawsuit of his own in Florida. The federal judge overseeing that case, Bill Clinton appointee Donald M. Middlebrooks, refused to do so.
Read the ruling here.
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