© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump departs from Trump Tower to give a deposition to New York Attorney General Letitia James who sued Trump and his Trump Organization, in New York City, U.S., April 13, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo


By Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s lawyers on Friday will try to persuade a New York judge to throw out, just 10 days before a scheduled trial, most or all of state Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit accusing the former U.S. president of “staggering” fraud.

Lawyers for James, in contrast, will ask the same Manhattan judge to find Trump and other defendants, including his adult sons and his Trump Organization family business, liable for fraud even before a jury starts hearing evidence.

The looming trial comes as Trump enjoys a dominating lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, despite facing a slew of litigation including four criminal indictments where he has pleaded not guilty.

Justice Arthur Engoron is reviewing James’ claims that Trump repeatedly lied in financial statements to obtain better terms on loans and insurance.

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James has accused Trump of overstating the values of more than 20 properties from 2011 to 2021, including his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan, and inflating his own fortune by as much as $3.6 billion.

“Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the court to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values,” and used them to defraud banks and insurers, James has said.

Trump has called the lawsuit a “witch hunt.”

His lawyers have argued that James has no authority to sue over private transactions they say were not fraudulent, and that most of her claims fall outside statutes of limitations.

They cited a June decision by a state appeals court dismissing claims against Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and various other claims predating July 2014 or February 2016.

The court left it to Engoron to determine which parts could proceed.

Last week, Trump accused James of ignoring the decision and Engoron of refusing to implement it, and said the trial should be delayed.

That prompted an appeals court judge on Sept. 14 to temporarily stay the trial. A five-judge panel is expected to decide next week whether the trial should proceed.

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Engoron has chosen not to appear before the panel, and referred it to his prior orders.

On Thursday, James called Trump’s request for a delay a “brazen and meritless” attempt to undermine Engoron’s authority.

She said even a brief delay “would likely wreak havoc” on the trial and other trials that Trump faces.

James’ lawsuit seeks to bar Trump and his adult sons Donald Jr. And Eric from running businesses in New York. It also seeks at least $250 million of penalties.

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