A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump defrauded banks and insurers for years as he built his real estate empire, a charge the former president has vigorously denied, defending the Trump Organization as a “great company” that’s oft-maligned by a “politically motivated witch hunt.”
Justice Arthur Engoron made the ruling ahead of the $250 million civil lawsuit being brought against Trump, his adult sons and the Trump Organization by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Engoron agreed with James that Trump overvalued his assets and exaggerated his net worth.
Trump railed against Engoron on Monday, as if he had a preview of what was coming down the pike, slamming the judge as a “Trump hater.”
"I have been unfairly sued by the Trump Hating Democrat Attorney General of New York State, Letitia James, over the false fact that I inflated my Financial Statements,” Trump posted to Truth Social.
"The Judge in the case, Arthur F. Engoron, refused to allow this case to go to the "Commercial Division," where it belongs, because he is a Trump Hater beyond even A.G. James, who campaigned against me spewing horrible inflammatory statements which are False & Defamatory."
In the aftermath of the ruling on Tuesday, Trump lawyer Alina Habba issued a statement of her own, reinforcing the Trump team's positions.
It said: "Today's decision is fundamentally flawed at every level. It is important to remember that the Trump Organization is an American success story. The fact that this Court summarily found that there is no question of fact, finding in part that Mar-a-Lago is worth approximately $20 million and issue a decision of this magnitude is an affront to our legal system.
"We intend to immediately appeal this decision because President Trump and his family, like every American business owner, is entitled to their day in court."
Engoron ruled that Trump, his sons and company executives repeatedly lied on financial statements to secure more favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums.
Engoron specifically addressed a claim made by Trump on Monday.
“On the front page of the financial statements there is a strong “disclaimer clause” telling all not to rely on these financial statements. The disclaimer clause tells anyone reviewing the data, including financial institutions, to do their own research and analysis — it is a non reliance clause, and could not be more clear,” Trump posted.
Engoron rejected that disclaimer, ruling that his financial tactics crossed a line and the clause that Trump pointed to did not absolve him of wrongdoing.
The non-jury trial is set to begin Oct. 2.
However, Trump's attorneys filed a lawsuit against James and Engoron that could delay the start of the trial. While Engoron dismissed some claims in Tuesday’s summary judgment, an appeals court is reportedly expected to rule Thursday on the lawsuit against James and Engoron.
In addition to the $250 million in penalties, James is also seeking a ban on Trump doing business in New York, his home state. The trial is expected to last until December.
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