US court refuses to delay Trump civil fraud trial

A New York appeals court has refused to delay Donald Trump’s scheduled October 2 civil fraud trial after the former US president accused the trial judge of wrongly refusing to throw out most of the case.

In a brief order, a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division, a mid-level appeals court in Manhattan, denied Trump’s motion to postpone the trial.

It also lifted a September 14 order by Justice David Friedman to put the trial on hold while it considered Trump’s motion.

Friedman was part of Thursday’s panel.

The panel ruled two days after state court Justice Arthur Engoron found that Trump and his family business persistently and fraudulently overvalued his assets and net worth in order to obtain better terms on loans and insurance.

‘Staggering fraud’ alleged

Trump had been sued in September 2022 by state Attorney General Letitia James who accused him, his adult sons, the Trump Organisation and others of “staggering fraud” in how they valued properties.

James is seeking at least $US250 million ($391 million) in penalties, a ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organisation.

The case is unrelated to the four criminal indictments that Trump faces, including for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all, and cast litigation against him as part of a politically-motivated Democratic witch hunt as he seeks a return to the White House.

James is a Democrat.

Despite his legal woes, Trump holds a commanding lead for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump sued Engoron on September 14, seeking to delay the trial and accusing him of ignoring a June ruling from the appeals court that, according to Trump, required gutting James’ case because many of her claims were too old.

Engoron’s decision on Tuesday showed that he believed the appeals court ruling had little effect on James’ case.

The judge said the defendants were living in “a fantasy world, not the real world,” as they made up valuations for properties including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida and Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan.

Engoron found “conclusive evidence” that Trump had overstated his fortune by as much as $US2.2 billion.

He also ordered the cancellation of certificates that let some of Trump’s businesses operate.

This could force Trump to cede control to a receiver of properties including Manhattan’s Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses and his family estate in suburban Westchester County, New York.

Late on Wednesday, James’s office and defence lawyers disclosed lists of witnesses, potentially numbering more than 100, who may be called to testify.

Donald Trump and his adult sons appear on both lists as do former Trump Organisation chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and controller Jeffrey McConney.

The attorney general’s list also includes Trump’s one-time personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who has turned against his former boss, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who the appeals court dismissed as a defendant in June.

Trump sues ex-MI6 officer in Britain

Trump is suing a former MI6 officer and the intelligence consultancy he founded, British High Court records show.

He is bringing a data protection claim against Orbis Business Intelligence and its founder Christopher Steele, who previously ran the Secret Intelligence Service’s Russia desk.

According to a court order published on Thursday, a two-day hearing in Trump’s legal action will start on October 16. It is thought to be the first hearing in the claim.

No other details of the case have been made available but Trump is not expected to attend.

Steele was the author of the so-called Steele dossier, which included unsubstantiated allegations that Trump had been “compromised” by the Russian security service FSB.

The dossier, leaked to BuzzFeed in 2017, also alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin “supported and directed” an operation to “cultivate” Trump as a presidential candidate for “at least five years”.

Trump denied the claims.

Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence were previously sued for libel by Russian citizen Aleksej Gubarev over the publication of the dossier, claiming they were legally responsible for BuzzFeed publishing the dossier.

However, in a judgment in October 2020, Justice Warby dismissed the claim.


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