Trump to challenge judge's claim of 'fraud' 'without any actual fraud'

 February 20, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A ruling by a New York judge that President Donald Trump must pay $355 million to the state for fraud, "without any actual fraud," is being challenged, according to a report from Newsweek.

Months ago, Judge Arthur Engoron had decided, before the case began in his court, that Trump and his companies committed fraud in the way they valued properties.

The state's odd law there allows a case to be brought even though no loans were unpaid and the banks and insurance companies themselves were anxious to do more business with Trump.

It was Letitia James, the state attorney general, who campaigned on the mantra of "getting" Trump who brought the case.

Then last week, after months of claims from James, and multiple refusals to allow Trump to speak in court, Engoron said the company and owners would be fined $355 million, a figure larger than some nations' budgets.

"The case raises serious legal and constitutional questions regarding 'fraud' claims/findings without any actual fraud," explained Chris Kise, Trump's principal lawyer in the case.

Asked by Newsweek about an appeal, Kise said, that it actually "will depend on many factors so it's hard to say at the moment, but in any event, it will fall within the 30-day clock" that is allowed by the court.

Kise explained that James and Engoron both were targeting Trump and trying to run him out of New York.

What yet remains unclear is how other corporations will react to the coordinated attack on Trump and his enterprises, which have provided a multitude of jobs in New York, capital expenditures, and development.

James, after promising voters she would focus on getting Trump, brought a legal action against Trump and his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization, and some executives.

Engoron then decided Trump inflated his assets, even though experts testified the judge was wrong. In one amazing stunt, Engoron claimed that Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida was worth less than $20 million when real estate experts cited its value closer to $500 million.

Trump repeatedly has said that the attack was just another political vendetta against him, and that's not without evidence given James' campaigning for office by attacking him.

The report explained an appeal hinges on the definition of fraud in the case.

"Professor Greg Germain of Syracuse University of Law told Newsweek that on appeal, Trump will have to show that the New York attorney general does not have the power to punish him 'without showing the traditional elements of fraud: (1) scienter—intent to defraud, (2) false statements of fact rather than opinion or trade puffing, (3) reasonable reliance by the victims, (4) materiality, (5) causation, and (6) damages,'" the report said.

He said, "I think he has a strong argument that when the attorney general seeks to punish for past use, rather than prevent future use, she would have to show all of the traditional elements of fraud."

As she was unable, during the trial, to show any victims, that task might be insurmountable.

The report said James will claim she is exempt from meeting those proof requirements.

Germain said, "The evidence of reasonable reliance [on Trump's financial statements] by the 'victims' is very weak' and may be grounds for appeal."

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