(NEW YORK) — A lawyer for the New York attorney general’s office described “staggering” misrepresentations about the value of former President Donald Trump’s properties and assets, arguing that Trump engaged in a prolonged “bait-and-switch” to lower his tax burden while inflating his assets to obtain favorable loan terms.
“The court should not allow Mr. Trump to play it both ways,” New York AG special litigation counsel Andrew Amer said at Friday’s argument for summary judgment.
Amer and an attorney for former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants made their case before Judge Arthur Engoron on Friday, with oral argument expected to continue through the afternoon.
Engoron told the courtroom that he intends to issue a single ruling by Tuesday that would decide the three major issues at question, including the government motion for partial summary judgment — which could allow Engoron to decide a portion of or the entire case without a trial — and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ request to impose legal sanctions on the defendants.
His ruling could define the scope of the $250 million civil trial scheduled to begin in downtown Manhattan on October 3, including if and how the trial proceeds, according to Engoron.
Twelve of Trump’s assets — including notable properties like Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, 40 Wall Street, and his multiple golf courses — took center stage in court, with the New York AG’s office alleging that Trump engaged in deceptive practices to inflate their value. Amer argued that Trump disregarded professional appraisals, ignored legal restrictions, used erroneous data, and relied on contradictory accounting approaches to inflate their value.
“His perspective is light years away from what the estimated current value is,” Amer said.
In his presentation, Trump’s defense attorney Chris Kise alleged that the New York AG cherry picked appraisals to paint an unfair picture of Trump’s business dealings, citing appraisals of 40 Wall Street and Mar-a-Lago that supported the claim that Trump was undervaluing his properties. Describing Trump as “master at finding value where others do not,” Kise attempted to describe asset valuation as a subjective process.
“This is why billionaires are billionaires,” Kise said of Trump’s ability to see the value of his “trophy” properties.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing in the case and his defense is asking the judge to decide the case before trial based on what they argue is a lack of evidence.
By contrast, the AG’s lawyers will ask the judge to find Trump and other defendants, including his adult sons and his family business, liable for fraud even before a jury starts hearing evidence.
James accused Trump, his children and his company of “grossly” inflating the former president’s net worth by billions of dollars and cheating lenders and others with false and misleading financial statements.
The trial is currently scheduled to get underway on Oct. 2 and is expected to take about three months, according to Engoron. But the start of the trial could be delayed if a state appeals court upholds a last-minute legal challenge by Trump after the former president filed suit against the judge.
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