With a trial set for Oct. 2 in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against former President Donald Trump, a lawyer for the latter has declared there to be no real issues presented in the matter and that the AG has had to ignore “everything” in order to continue the case, as Reuters reports.
The vigorous defense of the current GOP primary frontrunner was made by lawyer Christopher Kise, who appeared in court on Friday to argue that the case be dismissed, contending that his client engaged in no fraud, that he harmed nobody, and that the claims in the matter are too old to be the subject of litigation.
As the Associated Press reported during a sometimes-heated court proceeding, Judge Arthur Engoron allowed both the AG's office and Trump's attorneys to present opposing arguments about the future of the case brought by James, a matter from which claims against Ivanka Trump and others have already been dismissed.
The AG's complaint accused Trump and his Trump Organization business enterprise of fraudulently inflating the values of certain assets in order to deceive financial institutions, insurance carriers and others.
A lawyer representing James' office argued on Friday that summary judgment on the state's behalf was appropriate, particularly on the key claim that Trump was guilty of fraud by exaggerating his net worth, allegedly to the tune of $3.6 billion.
Kise, representing Trump, countered by stating that the evidence of such conduct simply did not exist, regardless of James' assertions, adding, “[t]he foundation of the case is to ignore everything. The case comes down to prosecuting the defendants for engaging in successful business transactions.”
According to the AP, the proceeding was marked by apparent frustration on the part of Engoron, who engaged in a heated series of back-and-forth exchanges with Kise, one of which was abruptly curtailed when the judge said, bluntly, “Disagree.”
At another point during the hearing, Engoron pounded a fist atop a surface to punctuate his disagreement with a position taken by Kise, declaring that a foundational premise of the law at issue is, “You cannot make false statements.”
The AP noted that while Engoron also had a number of questions for the AG's attorneys, he did not take quite such a hostile tone when presenting them.
Perhaps sensing that he was arguably generating an appearance of bias, Engoron assured those in attendance that he was attempting to give a fair hearing to each of the opposing parties and that the manner in which he was engaging with them should not be viewed as indicative of the likely outcome.
Adding another layer of complexity to the situation is the fact that last week, attorneys for Trump filed suit alleging that Engoron had abused his authority through the manner in which he has handled the case, and a state appellate court is currently determining whether the litigation will be permitted to continue.
If Trump's complaint against Engoron does proceed, trial in James' case against the former president – currently slated to begin Oct. 2 – could be delayed.
Should the case go to trial as planned, James' office may call witnesses such as former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, the former president himself, as well as his sons, Donald Jr and Eric.
Though the lawsuit at issue is a civil matter, there is no danger of potential incarceration for Trump, but James is seeking a ban that would preclude Donald, Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka Trump from ever again running businesses in New York, and she is also requesting penalties totaling $250 million, among other onerous sanctions the former president certainly does not need as he faces legal battles on multiple fronts.