Court Rejects Trump’s Effort to Delay Trial in Fraud Case

From a New York Times story by Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess headlined “Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Effort to Delay Trial in Fraud Case”:

Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud trial over accusations that he inflated the value of his properties by billions of dollars could begin as soon as Monday after a New York appeals court rejected the former president’s attempt to delay it.

The appeals court, in a terse two-page order Thursday, effectively turned aside for now a lawsuit Mr. Trump filed against the trial judge, Arthur F. Engoron. The lawsuit had sought to delay the trial, and ultimately throw out many of the accusations against the former president.

Thursday’s ruling came two days after Justice Engoron issued an order that struck a major blow to Mr. Trump, finding him liable for having committed fraud by persistently overvaluing his assets and stripping him of control over his New York properties.

Justice Engoron sided with the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who last year sued Mr. Trump, accusing him of inflating his net worth to obtain favorable loan terms from banks.

Mr. Trump is not entirely out of options in blocking the trial from moving forward. He can still appeal Justice Engoron’s Tuesday order, but it is unclear whether the appeals court would consider that.

A trial, the result of which would be decided by Justice Engoron, not a jury, would resolve other aspects of the case, most notably whether Mr. Trump and his company will face other punishments, including a financial penalty. Ms. James is seeking to recover $250 million in ill-gotten gains.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that Justice Engoron had ignored an earlier appeals court decision in June that raised the notion that some of the accusations against the former president might be too old to go to trial.

But the appeals court on Thursday appeared unmoved by those arguments, and did not engage with them in its order other than to say they had been considered.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Christopher M. Kise, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Tuesday, he called Justice Engoron’s ruling “outrageous” and “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law.” He said that the judge ignored “basic legal, accounting and business principles.”

Mr. Trump has denied all wrongdoing. A Republican, the former president has accused the judge and the attorney general, both Democrats, of being politically motivated, and has called Justice Engoron “deranged” and Ms. James, who is Black, a racist.

At the heart of Ms. James’s case is the accusation that Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements exaggerated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion in some years. Mr. Trump, she said, submitted the statements to banks to obtain favorable loans.

Mr. Kise, in turn, has argued that Mr. Trump could not have committed fraud because the banks made money off the loans and the former president never missed a payment.

But lawyers from the attorney general’s office have countered that, under the powerful state law allowing them to bring the case, they did not need to show the fraud had resulted in any financial harm. Justice Engoron agreed in his Tuesday opinion, and sanctioned each of Mr. Trump’s lawyers $7,500 for continuing to advance arguments they had previously made.

His order also left the future of Mr. Trump’s business in New York hanging in the balance.

Jonah E. Bromwich covers criminal justice in New York, with a focus on the Manhattan district attorney’s office, state criminal courts in Manhattan and New York City’s jails.

Ben Protess is an investigative reporter covering the federal government, law enforcement and various criminal investigations into former President Trump and his allies.

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