A New York judge said Friday that former US President Donald Trump must face a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general accusing him of fraudulently overstating the assets of his namesake real estate company and his own net worth.
Attorney General Letitia James had sued Mr. Trump, his grown children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka and the Trump Organization last September for an alleged plan to inflate Mr. Trump’s billions of dollars in assets through a decade of lying to banks and insurance companies, in what she called an “astounding” fraud.
State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron in Manhattan rejected defense claims that Attorney General James waited too long to file suit, failed to establish fraud and should have better justified the $250 million in damages she is seeking.
He also said Ivanka Trump could be sued despite her claims that she had not falsified values and had not worked for the Trump Organization since 2017, saying she could be liable for engaging in “continued wrongdoing.”
The judge also decided not to sanction the defendants for making arguments, including that Attorney General James was running a political “witch hunt” and lacked legal standing to sue.
“A sophisticated defense attorney should have known better,” Judge Engoron wrote nonetheless.
Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a statement, Attorney General James said Trump “engaged in years of extensive financial fraud to enrich himself and cheat the system” and must defend himself in court.
She also wants to stop the Trump family from operating businesses in New York and ban Trump and his companies from acquiring real estate there for five years. An Oct. 2 trial is scheduled.
The lawsuit is one of many legal problems facing Trump, who is seeking another term as president in 2024.
They include criminal investigations related to the FBI’s seizure of government documents from his Florida home and his role in efforts to overturn or disrupt the 2020 presidential election results.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is also conducting a criminal investigation in connection with Attorney General James’ civil case, and the Trump Organization will be sentenced on January 13 after being convicted of tax fraud in another case in New York.