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New York AG Wants Trump Sanctioned for ‘Demonstrably False Denials’ in Fraud Suit

Left: Letitia James, wearing a red shirt, dark jacket, and pearl necklace, discusses Donald Trump's financial dealings at a press conference. Right: Donald Trump, wearing a white shirt, dark suit jacket, and a red "Make America Great Again" hat, speaks into a microphone.

Left: New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference regarding former US President Donald Trump and his family’s financial fraud case on September 21, 2022 in New York (photo by YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images). Right: Donald Trump speaks at a ‘Save America’ rally on October 22, 2022 in Robstown, Texas (photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images).

New York State Attorney General Letitia James asked a judge to sanction former President Donald Trump for making “demonstrably false denials” in his answer to her $250 million lawsuit against his business empire.

Calling Trump’s answers to her complaint “deficient in a host of ways,” the attorney general’s senior enforcement counsel Kevin Wallace writes: “Defendants falsely deny facts they have admitted in other proceedings, they deny knowledge sufficient to respond to factual allegations that are plainly within their knowledge, and they propound affirmative defenses that have been repeatedly rejected by this Court as frivolous and without merit.”

Pointing to one example, they claim that the former president falsely denied serving as “inactive president” of the Trump Organization during his time at the White House.

“But the allegation that Mr. Trump was the ‘inactive president of the Trump Organization,’ while in the White House, is taken directly from his own sworn testimony in Galicia v. Trump on October 18, 2021,” the attorney general’s letter states, referring to the since-settled lawsuit against Trump over his security guards’ alleged assault of protesters.

During a deposition in that case, Trump was asked about his position with his company during his tenure.

“I would say that I was an inactive president and now I’m active again,” Trump responded in a videotaped deposition, whose transcript is excerpted in court papers.

James also accused son Eric Trump of making denials contradicted by the public record.

“Defendant Eric Trump denies that Seven Springs LLC purchased property in December 1995 for $7.5 million after having admitted those same facts in the Special Proceeding,” the letter states.

The fraud investigation into Trump Organization looked into several properties in New York, Chicago, and Scotland, seeking discrepancies in the company’s financial filings. Seven Springs, a 212-acre Westchester estate whose president is Eric Trump, was one of those properties, along with Trump International Golf Club Scotland, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, Trump Park Avenue, and 40 Wall Street.

“Defendants including Eric Trump and Seven Springs LLC previously admitted that on or about March 15, 2016, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. delivered a written appraisal that valued the Seven Springs property at $56.5 million as of December 1, 2015,” the attorney general wrote. “These same Defendants now deny the allegations concerning that appraisal in their entirety.”

The attorney general’s office asked Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron to schedule a conference to consider their request for sanctions. They also want the judge to “deem factual allegations subject to improper denials as admitted” and dismiss Trump’s affirmative defenses.

Her top enforcement counsel says that such a message is necessary.

“The Court has already admonished Defendants and their counsel for their continued invocation of meritless legal claims but exercised its discretion in not imposing such sanctions, ‘having made its point,'” Wallace wrote. “It does not appear that this point was taken, however, and OAG would ask the Court to renew the issue.”

Before the attorney general filed her lawsuit, Engoron granted sanctions against Trump for failing to comply with her subpoenas during the investigation.

Read the attorney general’s letter below:

This is a developing story.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."