When Donald Trump campaigned for president in 2016, he defended his lifelong hometown with the kind of vigor one might expect from a straight-talking New Yorker, telling then-rival Senator Ted Cruz, “When you want to overthrow New York, you have to go through me.”
But lately, New York has been reacting. Trump’s relationship with the Big Apple took a contradictory turn during his presidency, and recently, a series of lawsuits has summoned him back from his new home state of Florida.
The cases have dragged on for years, both civil and criminal, state and federal, and “it’s not a complete coincidence that everything is happening at the same time,” according to former federal prosecutor E. Danya Perry.
“He managed to very successfully and deftly put a lot of that on ice while he was president,” said Perry, a defense attorney who also previously served as deputy attorney general for New York State.
E. Jean Carroll defamation case and forthcoming sexual assault lawsuit
At federal courthouse on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, a judge last week ordered Trump to sit on Wednesday for his second high-stakes testimony in three months. He will be questioned by a lawyer for author E. Jean Carroll, who sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after Trump accused Carroll of lying when she said he raped her in the mid-1990s.
Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that Trump’s testimony could be used in another civil case that Carroll has pledged to file, a sexual assault complaint against Trump.
Carroll will be able to proceed with the lawsuit next month when a new state law, the Adult Survivors Act, briefly removes the statute of limitations for such claims in New York.
Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s allegations.
Civil fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company
A block east of the federal courthouse is the Center Street state civil court, where for years attorneys for Trump and his company have fought a losing battle to limit subpoenas in an extensive investigation by the New York attorney general into his financial practices. . Trump’s other recent deposition was ordered by Judge Arthur Engoron in this case.
Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 400 times during the August interrogation. His testimony was one of the last pieces of evidence collected before the New York attorney general on September 21 filed a wide-ranging lawsuit targeting Trump’s company. New York is asking for $250 million in damages and an end to Trump’s business in the state. In addition to the Trump Organization, the attorney general’s lawsuit names Trump and three of his children — Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump — as defendants.
The company and the Trumps have denied all allegations in the case and said through a lawyer in September that “absolutely no wrongdoing has occurred.” They have already accused New York Attorney General Letitia James in public and in court proceedings of pursuing the investigation out of political animosity.
The complaint alleges that the Trumps and other company executives engaged in a years-long scheme to enrich themselves by inflating property values across the country.
That investigation was prompted by congressional testimony given in 2019 by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who said at the time that “Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes … and deflated his assets to lower his real estate taxes.” .
Cohen told CBS News that he believes Trump “broke the law” but that the alleged fraud may never have been exposed had Trump not run.
“He may never have been caught beyond the high-profile nature of the post and his continued refusal to adhere to norms,” said Cohen, who is now a fierce critic of the former president.
The next hearing in that case is scheduled for October 31.
Manhattan criminal fraud and tax evasion trial
Until then, the firm’s lawyers will be busy a block north on Center Street at a state criminal court, where the Trump Organization’s criminal fraud and tax evasion trial will begin on Monday.
Among the witnesses expected to be called in this case is former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who in August pleaded guilty to the case. The judge in that case, Juan Merchan, is also presiding over former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s state criminal fraud case.
At a Sept. 12 hearing, Merchan criticized Trump Organization lawyers for “last-minute” changes to their defense team.
“One of the accusations is that the defense is trying to stop. You know, it’s starting to look a little like that,” Merchan said.
Merchan’s rebuke was echoed by Judge Kaplan in the E. Jean Carroll case, who wrote on October 12 that Trump “should not be allowed to run out of time in (Carroll’s) attempt to get a remedy for what was supposed to be a mistake.” serious.”
Trump has long used delay as a judicial strategy, according to Barbara Res, who was Trump’s head of construction in the 1980s.
“His M.O. was trying to do that with contractors when he owed them money and, you know, offer them maybe 50 cents on the dollar. If they didn’t take it, he’d just drag the court down. So, you know, they’d go bankrupt waiting for a long time,” said Res.
Asked by USA Today in 2016 about contractors’ complaints, Trump said he cut companies’ pay if the Trump Organization was dissatisfied with their work.
“Let’s say they do a job that’s not good, or a job they haven’t finished, or a job that’s long overdue. I’ll deduct it from their contract for sure,” Trump said.
If this strategy has worked in the past, it may no longer be effective, according to Perry, who said “there’s a general loss of patience for litigants and, more importantly, the judiciary, with some of these delay and game tactics.”
“There was more of a ‘rocket file’ with some of these subjects than you might see,” Perry said.
Special master in Mar-a-Lago documents probe
Five blocks south of the state criminal court building is the Brooklyn Bridge, which on the outside of the neighborhood passes through another federal courthouse. The building’s atrium is named after Raymond Dearie, the semi-retired judge who is serving as special master in Trump’s lawsuit against the federal government.
That lawsuit was filed in August after the Justice Department served a warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, seizing White House files, some of which were labeled “Top Secret.” Trump insisted the documents were in his possession legally.
Dearie is reviewing thousands of pages of documents seized by the FBI, with a mandate to identify which, if any, are subject to attorney-client or executive privilege.
Trial of Trump confidant Thomas Barrack
On the eighth floor of the Brooklyn courthouse building, another federal judge is presiding over the ongoing criminal trial of billionaire businessman Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend and adviser to Trump who served as chairman of the 2016 inaugural committee.
Barrack is accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in an effort to influence US foreign policy in favor of UAE interests. He has entered a declaration of innocence in the case.
During the trial so far, jurors have heard former Secretary of State for the Trump administration, Rex Tillerson, who has been called as a witness, and have received emails and text messages sent to and from Trump administration officials.