A Lawsuit That Moves to Bar the Trumps From Doing Business Here
Good morning. It’s Thursday. We’ll look at the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against former President Donald Trump. We’ll also look at a baseball team that doesn’t play by Aaron Judge’s rules.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Printed out page by page, it is about an inch tall.
It is a lawsuit that spells out in startling detail what the New York attorney general called a “staggering” fraud by Donald Trump, his family business and three of his children. In asserting that they overvalued assets by billions of dollars, it said that Trump’s annual financial statements amounted to an anthology of lies.
The attorney general, Letitia James, moved to bar the Trumps from ever running a business in New York State again.
The lawsuit alleged that Trump and his business had broken several state criminal statutes and had also “plausibly” contravened federal criminal laws. James’s office does not have the power to file criminal charges in this case. But she said she had referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Internal Revenue Service.
She is seeking an order compelling the defendants to forfeit $250 million, the amount the lawsuit said the defendants had collected through “repeated and persistent fraudulent practices.”
And she moved to block the Trumps from buying any commercial real estate in New York for five years or from applying for loans from financial institutions that are “chartered by or registered” with the state for the same length of time.
James emphasized the scale of the fraud in the lawsuit, which was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. “The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year,” the lawsuit said, adding that the 11 annual statements of financial condition filed by Trump from 2011 through 2021 contained more than 200 “false and misleading” valuations.
James said that Trump had inflated the value of the skyscraper at 40 Wall Street, saying it was worth $527 million in 2012 when an appraiser had estimated it to be worth $220 million, and had claimed rent-stabilized apartments in the Trump Park Avenue building were worth many times their correct value.
She also said he had listed the square footage of his own 11,000-square-foot triplex in Trump Tower as 30,000 square feet. “Tripling the size of the apartment for valuation was fraud, not an honest mistake,” she said at a news conference.
Understand New York State’s Civil Case Against Trump
An empire under scrutiny. Letitia James, New York State’s attorney general, has been conducting a yearslong civil investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s business practices, culminating in a lawsuit that accuses Mr. Trump of “staggering” fraud. Here’s what to know:
The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.
The findings. Ms. James detailed in a filing what she said was a pattern by the Trump Organization to inflate the value of the company’s properties in documents filed with lenders, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr. Trump’s lawsuit. In December 2021, Mr. Trump sued Ms. James, seeking to halt the inquiry on the grounds that the attorney general’s involvement in the inquiry was politically motivated. On May 27, a federal judge dismissed the suit.
Invoking the Fifth Amendment. In August, Mr. Trump faced questions by the attorney general under oath. He declined to answer anything and invoked his right against self-incrimination, leaving Ms. James with a crucial decision: whether to sue the former president or seek a settlement.
Fraud lawsuit. After Ms. James’s office rebuffed a settlement offer from Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the attorney general filed a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and his family business, accusing them of a sweeping pattern of fraudulent business practices.
James said the penalties she sought were “consistent with what we have sought for other businesses that have committed the same misconduct.” She said “there cannot be different rules for different people” and that “former presidents are no different.”
“Everyday people cannot lie to a bank about how much money they have in order to get a favorable loan or send their kid to college,” she said, “and if they did, the government would throw the book at them. Why should this be any different?”
James had already been one of Trump’s chief antagonists. But as my colleague William K. Rashbaum noted, the sweep of the lawsuit, along with her criminal referral and her request for a monitor to oversee the Trump Organization, ratcheted up the legal and financial pressure on the former president, who is already juggling nearly half a dozen criminal and congressional investigations.
James’s case could be difficult to prove. Property valuations are often subjective, and the annual financial statements she took issue with included disclaimers saying that they had not been audited.
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, called the lawsuit “an abuse of authority” and said that “we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the attorney general’s meritless claims.” The former president, in a post on his Truth Social site, attacked James and the investigation, as he has throughout the inquiry. “Another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James,” Trump wrote, adding, “she is a fraud who campaigned on a “get Trump” platform.”
A cold front will drive in clouds along with showers and thunderstorms during the day. The high will be in the low 70s. Tonight will be dry but breezy and much cooler, with the temperature dropping to the low 50s.
In effect until Monday (Rosh Hashana).
U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY
It’s another “gridlock alert day” as the United Nations General Assembly continues. Among the leaders scheduled to address the gathering today is Prime Minister Yair Lapid of Israel.
The latest New York news
Student club offers a compromise: An L.G.B.T.Q. student group at Yeshiva University offered to delay seeking recognition from Yeshiva while the school, which lost at the Supreme Court on procedural grounds, pursues its arguments in state court.
Carriage horses: The horses have charmed tourists since the 19th century, but detractors say there is abuse and exploitation. A bill before the City Council would replace the horse-drawn carriages with electric ones.
Arts and Culture
“Beetlejuice” closes: In the latest in a string of closings as Broadway grapples with diminished tourism, “Beetlejuice” will end its run on Jan. 8.
New solo show: The comedic storyteller Mike Birbiglia will return to Broadway with “The Old Man & the Pool,” a new show prompted by swimming.
A new setting for Aperture: The nonprofit photography organization will relocate to offices across from the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side.
Not playing by Aaron Judge’s rules
Rocky Belbol, above, was unambiguous, unequivocal and unwavering. If Aaron Judge played the kind of baseball he plays, Judge would not be in the home run pantheon.
Belbol plays baseball the way it was played in 1864. He is the captain of the Eckford of Brooklyn Base Ball Club, which uses the name of a team that disbanded in 1872.
Back then the ball — a “base ball,” not yet squeezed into a single word — was hand-stitched and softer than machine-made descendants. “To hit a ball as far as he does now,” Belbol said, “it would have been almost impossible.”
To hit as many homers would also have been difficult, to say the least. Teams played fewer games a year — the Eckfords took the field only 12 times in 1857, 14 times in 1859 and 22 times in 1867, according to “Base Ball Founders: The Clubs, Players and Cities of the Northeast That Established the Game.” Judge would not have had the 528 at-bats he had before he smashed home run No. 60 on Tuesday, tying Babe Ruth’s best season. Nor would Judge have 15 more regular-season games to add to his numbers — or the postseason.
Belbol’s outfielders do not have to catch fly balls the way Judge does — before they hit the ground. “You can catch the ball on one bounce for an out,” he said.
And Judge, when he is out in right field, uses something Belbol and his teammates lack: a glove.
Belbol said it takes “guts to stand up there and take a line drive at third or short” barehanded, just as the original Eckfords did. “Some guys are like, ‘I’m not catching that — I’m getting out of the way,’” he said. “We send those guys to the outfield. We do want to win.”
The 1872 Eckfords finished ninth in the National Association with a 3-26 record, according to Baseball Reference. They were never in first place that season and won the three games after Jimmy Wood replaced Jim Clinton as the manager 11 games into the season. “We never saw the out field of a match played in such an execrable manner,” one reporter wrote, according to “Base Ball Founders.” Belbol’s Eckfords are 8-2 this year, he said.
As for Judge, Belbol is a big fan. “Someone who’s that good and that strong would have dominated the game in any era,” said Belbol, who was at the game on Tuesday. “I was thinking, one more at-bat and it’s going to happen. He knows how to rise to the moment. He’d hit No. 58 and No. 59 in Milwaukee. You know how special No. 60 was. You know he wanted to it for us.”
Mavis and Amy
I was walking my pit bull terrier, Mavis Staples, north on a crowded Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights when I overheard a woman behind me singing my favorite song, “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, very loudly. She was not a talented singer, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
When we got to the corner, I could feel her sidling up to me.
“I really appreciate how respectfully you walk your dog,” she said, pointing to Mavis. “You keep out of people’s way, and you’re also protecting her.”
“Thank you so much,” I said, choking up a bit. “And I was just thinking to myself how much I appreciate your taste in music.”
“It’s nice to be seen, isn’t it?” she said.
— Christina Holsten
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero, Jeffrey Furticella, Rick Martinez and Olivia Parker contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].