Letita James Targets Trump With Sanctions For Lying In Court


The team of New York state Attorney General Letitia James is seeking further sanctions on Donald Trump and his legal representation, this time directly in the context of an ongoing lawsuit from James alleging a longtime pattern of financial misconduct at the Trump family business. The proposed sanctions might cover other defendants as well, like Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump.

The planned motion referenced in a new missive discusses sanctions on “Defendants and their counsel,” a relatively broad category. The new letter to New York Judge Arthur Engoron (dated this Tuesday) outlining the hopes from the James team and signed by Kevin Wallace, who serves as Senior Enforcement Counsel in the Division of Economic Justice, walks through a substantial list of fundamental problems in responses from the Trumps’ corner to allegations from James. In a glaring example, the Trumps partly contradict themselves. Although Trump himself described his role at the Trump business while he was in office as that of an “inactive president,” filings in this case dispute James using that exact same description for Donald’s position. Eric Trump also denied key, basic facts of a 2016 appraisal from a real estate services firm for a contested Trump property north of New York City, despite previously admitting them.

Also present among the responses to James’s allegations are what Wallace’s letter summarizes as improper denials claiming a lack of sufficient knowledge where such information would clearly be actually accessible. “Donald J. Trump claims that he lacks sufficient information about the structure of his own companies to answer the Verified Complaint,” Wallace’s letter frustratedly notes. It sounds like the Trumps used largely similar language in responding to much of what James filed — and it also seems like the sorts of denials the Trumps made could be taken in judicial contexts as an admission of the substance of the allegations. “Denying knowledge sufficient to answer is inappropriate where the relevant knowledge is available to defendants, and a court may deem those allegations as admitted,” Wallace added.

The criticisms for the Trump corner’s responses extend from there, including deflection through means like insistent complaints on descriptions from James of the “Trump Organization” considering there are many individual business entities — and individuals — operating in the Trumps’ business orbit. Relevantly, also at issue is that rehashed among the Trumps’ arguments is the contention James has operated out of political animus, which is an argument Engoron already rejected last year — even though the notion apparently also came up in motions to dismiss he also denied. Trump himself, along with Eric and Donald Trump Jr., apparently brought back up the arguments about James’s supposed political animosity.

Specifically, Wallace sought a pre-motion conference on state prosecutors’ objections. Trump has recently faced other sanctions, with a Florida federal judge demanding he pay nearly $1 million to cover legal fees incurred by a host of defendants in a case he filed alleging some kind of conspiracy to undercut his 2016 campaign for president with talk of ties to Russia. Some of that money, which attorney Alina Habba was also responsible for paying, would be for Hillary Clinton.

Image:Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons