Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, concerning allegations that he inflated the value of his properties by billions of dollars, may commence on Monday following the rejection of his attempt to delay it by a New York appeals court.In a brief two-page order issued on Thursday, the appeals court effectively dismissed a lawsuit filed by Trump against the trial judge, Arthur F. Engoron, which aimed to postpone the trial and dismiss numerous accusations against the former president.
Thursday’s ruling came just two days after Engoron delivered a significant setback to Trump by finding him liable for fraud, specifically for persistently overvaluing his assets and stripping him of control over his New York properties.
Engoron sided with New York Attorney General Letitia James, who had sued Trump last year, alleging that he inflated his net worth to obtain favourable loan terms from banks.While Trump retains the option to appeal Engoron’s Tuesday order, it remains uncertain whether the appeals court will consider it.
A trial, the result of which will be decided by Engoron rather than a jury, will address other aspects of the case, notably whether Trump and his company will face additional penalties, including potential financial penalties. James seeks to recover $250 million in ill-gotten gains.
Trump’s lawyer, Christopher M. Kise, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On Tuesday, he criticized Engoron’s ruling as “outrageous”. He claimed it was “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law,” asserting that the judge disregarded “basic legal, accounting, and business principles.”
At the core of James’ case is the accusation that Trump’s annual financial statements exaggerated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion in some years, which he submitted to banks to secure favourable loans.Kise has argued that Trump could not have committed fraud because the banks profited from the loans, and the former president never missed a payment.
However, lawyers from the attorney general’s office have countered that they did not need to demonstrate financial harm under the state law empowering them to bring the case. Engoron agreed in his Tuesday opinion and imposed sanctions of $7,500 on each of Trump’s lawyers for persistently advancing arguments they had previously made.
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