New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million lawsuit against Donald Trump alleging fraudulent business practices will proceed, a judge ruled Friday, dismissing arguments by Trump’s legal team to dismiss it as “frivolous.”
James filed suit in September against Trump, the family-run Trump Organization, his three oldest adult children who have been business executives, and his CFO Allen Weisselberg. The case is scheduled to be heard during October.
The suit accuses the Trumps and the Trump Organization — which operates real estate, golf resort and hospitality businesses — of intentionally lying to lenders and insurance companies about the value of the former president’s assets to secure favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums.
If successful, the suit could destroy the company’s ability to do business in New York.
Trump and his lawyers have denied any wrongdoing, and the former president has accused James of launching a politically partisan “witch hunt” against him.
In rejecting the motion to dismiss the case, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron on Friday scolded Trump’s team for the “frivolous” action.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba said in a statement that the decision will be appealed.
Engoron wrote that “sophisticated defense counsel should have known better” than to make baseless arguments that had already been shot down in previous motions. One of the chestnuts already rejected was the allegation of “witch hunting”, Engoron wrote.
“Reading these arguments was, to quote baseball sage Lawrence Peter (“Yogi”) Berra, ‘Deja vu all over again,'” the judge wrote.
Engoron also rejected a separate attempt by Ivanka Trump, who is named as a defendant in James’ lawsuit, to dismiss the allegations against her.
James responded in a statement after Engoron’s ruling: “Once again, Donald Trump’s attempt to evade the law has been rejected.”
She added: “We sued Mr. Trump because we found that he engaged in years of extensive financial fraud to enrich himself and cheat the system.” The ruling “makes it clear that Donald Trump is not above the law and must answer for his actions in court,” James noted.
If the lawsuit goes ahead as planned in October, it will happen while Trump is making another choice for the presidency in the 2024 election.
The lawsuit refers to the business practices of the Trump Organization as “swindling” fraud. James has called the actions “the art of stealing”, a reference to Trump’s well-known ghost-written book “The Art of the Deal”.
Trump, meanwhile, remains under criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is reviewing the company’s practices regarding how assets were valued for loans and insurance.