(The Hill) – A New York state judge on Friday rejected a motion from former President Trump to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), allowing the case to proceed. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled the arguments from Trump’s legal team were frivolous and rejected an argument that the case is a “witch hunt.”
James sued Trump and his three adult children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, in September following a three-year investigation into whether the former president inflated the value of his properties to his investors to get loans and deflated their values on tax forms. The New York attorney general’s office is pursuing a $250 million penalty against the defendants and asking the court to permanently prohibit them from serving as an officer or director of any corporation registered or licensed in the state.
The lawsuit alleges Trump’s children engaged in a conspiracy to commit the crimes and Trump was also aided by Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney. Trump’s legal team argued in their motion that James does not have the legal capacity or standing to sue and that disclaimers from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars, protect the defendants. Mazars cut ties with Trump and said it could no longer stand behind Trump’s financial statements in February.
Engoron rejected the arguments, saying they were “borderline frivolous” the first time that the defendants made them, when James sought a preliminary injunction, and that the defendants reiterating them was “frivolous.” He said a state law was “tailor-made” for enforcement from the attorney general, overcoming any argument about capacity and standing, and that the Mazars disclaimers were made by a “non-party.”
Engoron noted that the defendants argued that the ruling on the preliminary injunction was only precursory, but he found that they were not substantially different from the first time they were argued and were only “re-presented.” He also found the defendants’ arguments about the case being a “witch hunt” had already rejected by the court and on appeal.
Engoron separately rejected a motion from Ivanka Trump to dismiss the complaint against her. She argued the lawsuit does not sufficiently articulate allegations against her and does not allege that she personally falsified any business record or that she was aware of improper methods to value certain assets. But Engoron said evidence, including emails she was included on, shows her participation in securing loans. The Hill has reached out to an attorney for Trump for comment.