Trump Lawsuit Against New York State Flops Before It Starts

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Donald Trump has dropped a second lawsuit in federal court that challenged the investigation by New York state Attorney General Letitia James into his family business.

That investigation centered on what seemed like profoundly expansive deception in the valuations the Trump Organization presented for dozens of its assets. These deceptive claims of value, which are now the subject of a civil lawsuit from James against defendants including the Trump company, were positioned to provide the former president’s family firm with unearned financial benefits, like perks on their taxes and favorable terms on loans. The lawsuit Trump has now willingly abandoned originated when James’s investigation remained just that, an investigation. He filed the other case he recently dropped to challenge James’s pursuit of records from a personal financial trust of the former president.

The same judge in that case, Donald Middlebrooks, imposed financial penalties of nearly $1 million on Trump and an attorney of his in yet another case shortly before Donald abandoned the dispute over records from the trust. In that dispute, Middlebrooks already denied a motion from Trump for a preliminary injunction that would’ve blocked James’s access to the records. In the second federal case over the James investigation that Trump ditched, proceedings already reached an appeals court after a federal judge at the district court level concluded there just wasn’t the kind of real-world evidence of political motivation on James’s part that Trump claimed.

As spotlighted by Law&Crime, Judge Brenda Sannes in federal court said of the investigation there was “no evidence before this Court that it was conducted in a manner that is harassing or in bad faith.” She also referenced the similar rejection in New York state court by Judge Arthur Engoron of claims from Trump’s corner that James was pursuing his family business on what would amount to political grounds. Engoron rejected claims of political motivation as early as February of 2022, although motions he recently rejected that sought the dismissal of James’s lawsuit rehashed similar rhetorical ground.

That more recent rejection from Engoron was earlier this month, and current scheduling has the James lawsuit going to trial in October of this year. James publicly commented on the end of what apparently constituted the entirety of the remaining federal proceedings from Trump challenging her work. “I am pleased that Donald Trump has withdrawn both of his pending actions against my office,” she said on Twitter. “As we have shown all along, we have a legitimate legal case against him and his organization, and we cannot be bullied or dissuaded from pursuing it.”

Trump may have dropped the earlier case — the proceedings handled by Middlebrooks — out of concern about possibly further financial penalties, although such a consideration might be more distant here, since Middlebrooks isn’t on that appeals court. Trump might just be acknowledging the reality of the impending trial over James’s claims and focusing his resources. There was no reason for the second dismissal explicitly outlined in the court filing establishing it.