In a major victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, a judge has ruled that former President Donald Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loans and insurance deals. The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron paves the way for the trial to begin next week and strengthens James’s case as she seeks a penalty of around $250 million. The judge’s decision narrows the issues to be heard, affirming that Trump is liable and rejecting his lawyers’ attempts to dismiss many of the claims against him. Justice Engoron criticized Trump and his company for ignoring reality when it suited their business needs, stating that they lived in “a fantasy world, not the real world.”
In addition to ruling in favor of James, Justice Engoron also imposed sanctions on Trump’s lawyers for making previously rejected arguments, ordering them each to pay $7,500. However, Trump still has the opportunity to delay the trial or challenge the case against him. He has filed a lawsuit against Justice Engoron, and an appeals court is expected to rule on it soon. If the appeals court rules against him, Trump will have to face the remainder of the case at trial. James launched her investigation into Trump in March 2019, accusing him of significant fraud in presenting the value of his properties. The lawsuit seeks a fine of approximately $250 million and to remove the Trump family from leading the Trump Organization.
Trump’s lawyers had requested a summary judgment to dismiss many claims against him, but Justice Engoron denied their request while granting James’s bid for partial summary judgment. Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing and accused James of political persecution. His lawyers have argued that the banks that lent him money were not victims and actually made a profit.