Donald Trump, Letitia James, summary judgement
Photo credit: Illustration by WhoWhatWhy from Jess Bailey Designs / Pexels, Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels, Thomas Good / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0), U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr, and NY Attorney General.

Donald Trump is used to being able to delay legal proceedings or bully plaintiffs who have less money and influence... but these same tactics don’t work against state and federal governments.

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A New York judge on Tuesday added to Donald Trump’s legal woes when he ruled that the former president has committed fraud for many years.

In a scathing decision, Judge Arthur Engoron found that Trump had overvalued his assets and exaggerated his wealth in an effort to deceive banks, insurers, and other stakeholders when trying to make financial deals or get others to give him money.

These lies then helped the former president and his companies to secure favorable terms when seeking loans or obtaining insurance.

“In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies,” Engoron wrote. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”

The ruling comes in a civil lawsuit that New York’s Attorney General Letitia James brought against the former president and that is slated to go to trial next week.

While the decision, also referred to as a summary judgment, resolves the main issue in the case, six others will still have to be resolved at trial.

However, today’s decision will make things significantly easier for James, who is seeking $250 million in penalties against Trump and wants to ban him from doing business in New York.

As part of his ruling, Engoron ordered some of Trump’s business licenses to be revoked.

In addition, he sanctioned several of the former president’s lawyers for making arguments that he had previously rejected.

The judge also was not impressed with the former president’s attempts to defend himself.

“The defenses Donald Trump attempts to articulate in his sworn deposition are wholly without basis in law or fact,” Engoron wrote.

For example, Trump claimed that he could not have inflated the values of his properties because he could always find somebody from Saudi Arabia who would pay him any price.

Among others, James’s lawsuit accuses Trump of inflating the value of his assets, including some of his marquee properties. These include the Mar-a-Lago resort where the former president hoarded classified documents after leaving office, and his gilded apartment in New York City.

The ruling does not bode well for Trump, who faces multiple criminal and civil lawsuits in the coming months.

The former president is used to being able to delay legal proceedings or bully plaintiffs who have less money and influence. However, now he is up against state and federal governments where these tricks won’t work and Trump’s bravado won’t save him.

In this case, the former president’s hopes now rest on an appeals court, which is expected to rule later this week on whether the trial should be delayed.

However, if the appeals court rules against Trump, then the walls are truly starting to close in on him.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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