A New York state judge has rejected a motion from former President Trump to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), allowing the case to proceed.
New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled the arguments from Trump’s legal team were frivolous and rejected an argument that the case is a “witch hunt.”
James sued Trump and three of his adult children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — in September following a three-year investigation into whether the former president inflated the value of his properties to his investors to get loans and deflated the value on tax forms.
The New York attorney general’s office is pursuing a $250 million penalty against the defendants and asking the court to permanently prohibit them from serving as an officer or director of any corporation registered or licensed in the state.
The lawsuit alleges that former President Trump’s children engaged in a conspiracy to commit the crimes and that he was also aided by Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.
Former President Trump’s legal team argued in its motion that James does not have the legal capacity or standing to sue and that disclaimers from his longtime accounting firm, Mazars, protect the defendants. Mazars cut ties with former President Trump and said it could no longer stand behind his financial statements in February.
Engoron rejected the arguments, saying they were “borderline frivolous” the first time that the defendants made them, when James sought a preliminary injunction, and that the defendants reiterating them was “frivolous.”
He said a state law was “tailor-made” for enforcement from the attorney general, overcoming any argument about capacity and standing, and that the Mazars disclaimers were made by a “non-party.”
Engoron noted that the defendants argued that the ruling on the preliminary injunction was only precursory, but he found that the arguments were not substantially different from the first time they were made and were only “re-presented.”
He also found the defendants’ arguments about the case being a “witch hunt” had already rejected by the court and on appeal.
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Engoron separately rejected a motion from Ivanka Trump to dismiss the complaint against her.
She argued the lawsuit does not sufficiently articulate allegations against her and does not allege that she personally falsified any business record or that she was aware of improper methods to value certain assets. But Engoron said evidence, including emails she was included on, shows her participation in securing loans.