New York AG will seek sanctions on Trump, lawyers over ‘false’ court filings in fraud suit
Former US President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a 2024 election campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 28, 2023.
Logan Cyrus | AFP | Getty Images
The New York attorney general’s office on Tuesday said it will ask a judge to impose sanctions on former President Donald Trump and his attorneys in a pending $250 million fraud lawsuit for “falsely” denying facts they previously admitted and other issues related to his recent court filing.
Attorney General Letitia James‘ team also plans to ask Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron to make a series of rulings that would hobble Trump’s ability to contest her civil lawsuit.
The planned requests were revealed nearly two weeks after a federal judge in Florida sanctioned Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba nearly $1 million for filing what that judge called a “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others.
Habba did not immediately respond to a request for comment on James’ plan, which was disclosed in a letter to Engoron from one of the attorney general’s lawyers.
James is suing Trump, the Trump Organization, three of his adult children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — and others for what she said was widespread fraud involving false financial statements and improper valuation of real estate assets. The defendants deny the allegations.
Trump and the other defendants last week responded to the lawsuit with a court filing that contained so-called verified answers to the allegations.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for James told Engoron that “each of the Verified Answers is deficient in a host of ways.”
“Defendants falsely deny facts they have admitted in other proceedings,” wrote Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel of the AG’s Office’s Division of Economic Justice.
“They deny knowledge sufficient to respond to factual allegations that are plainly within their knowledge,” Wallace wrote.
“And they propound affirmative defenses that have been repeatedly rejected by this Court as frivolous and without merit,” he added.
Wallace said the attorney general’s office plans to file a motion asking Engoron to take several steps that would undercut Trump’s defense to the suit. One would be the judge assuming that Trump had effectively admitted the allegations that he and his co-defendants had improperly denied.
James also will ask that Engoron “sanction defendants and their counsel,” according to Wallace’s letter.
The letter said that “a cursory review” of the verified answers shows “that a number of the denials are demonstrably false and actually contradict sworn statements by the Defendants in other proceedings.”
Wallace pointed to the Trump defendants’ denial in James’ lawsuit that Trump remained the inactive president of the Trump Organization while serving in the White House.
“But the allegation that Mr. Trump was the ‘inactive president of the Trump Organization,’ while in the White House, is taken directly from his own sworn testimony in Galicia v. Trump on October 18, 2021,” Wallace wrote. “In fact, [James’] complaint uses Mr. Trump’s own phrasing.”
Eric Trump in the verified answers denied that Seven Springs LLC, which is controlled by the Trump company, bought a property in Westchester County, New York, in 1995 for $7.5 million after the company admitted it did in a prior court proceeding, Wallace said.
The lawyer concluded by saying Engoron “has already admonished Defendants and their counsel for their continued invocation of meritless legal claims but exercised its discretion in not imposing such sanctions, ‘having made its point.'”
But Wallace added, “It does not appear that this point was taken, however, and [Office of the Attorney General] would ask the Court to renew the issue.”