President Donald Trump’s legal team has asked the civil fraud case be directed in his favor.
In a significant move reported by the Associated Press, his lawyers made a bid Thursday to put an immediate end to the New York civil fraud trial.
They argued that state lawyers had failed to prove that the former president intended to dupe banks, insurers, and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.
President Trump’s lawyers asked Judge Arthur Engoron, as reported by Reuters, to clear the 2024 Republican front-runner, his namesake company, and other defendants of wrongdoing at the halfway point in the trial of state Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit.
According to Reuters, each of the defendants signed documents saying they were responsible for the preparation of the statements, which James is seeking at least $250 million in penalties for, as well as restrictions that would effectively bar President Trump and his adult sons from the New York real estate business for five years.
In defiant testimony on Monday, President Trump acknowledged, according to the Associated Press, that his asset valuations were sometimes inaccurate but said they were not relevant to banks and insurers. The AP then went on to report that President Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, built on that argument on Thursday, saying banks that did business with the Trump Organization profited from the loans.
Reuters further reported that Kise argued:
“There’s no victim. There’s no complainant. There’s no injury. All of that is established now.”
Kise “also stated that President Trump’s financial statements had clear disclaimers advising banks to independently verify the valuations,” according to Reuters.
Judge Engoron, according to the aforementioned Associated Press article, was skeptical of that argument, which he has rejected in prior rulings.
“You seem to be saying the fact that somebody says, ‘Don’t believe me’ … proves that they’re not lying?” Judge Engoron asked.
Kise responded that it would make no sense for President Trump to tell banks to “do their own homework” if he was trying to dupe them.
As the fraud trial is one of several legal battles President Trump faces as he mounts a comeback bid for the White House, it is reported by Reuters that he is a defendant in four criminal trials, including two stemming from his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss.
Despite that, as reported by the AP, he holds a commanding lead over his rivals for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination.