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Trump claims that his Trump Organization can’t be sued because it doesn’t exist

The Independent logo The Independent 1/27/2023 Alex Woodward
Trump Organization fined in fraud case © EPA Trump Organization fined in fraud case

In a lengthy, wild response to the New York attorney general’s $250 lawsuit alleging widespread fraud across his business empire, attorneys for Donald Trump and his three eldest children have argued that the “Trump Organization” at the centre of her blockbuster case against them cannot be sued because it does not legally exist.

The filing argues that the “Trump Organization” is used by the defendants only for “branding and business purposes” and that “no entity as such exists for legal purposes”, an argument that is repeated dozens of times across a 300-page document.

Thousands of pages across 16 answers to Letitia James’s case were filed just before a midnight deadline on Thursday, as the former president, his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric and recently convicted chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and other associates and entities face a sweeping lawsuit alleging that Mr Trump falsely inflated the value of his net worth by billions of dollars. He’s alleged to have done so in an effort to gain tax benefits and other benefits from insurers and financial institutions.


The latest filing comes days after Mr Trump was fined $1m for what a federal judge called a “pattern of abuse of the courts” for filing frivolous lawsuits for political purposes, which he said “undermines the rule of law” and “amounts to obstruction of justice.”

“Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose,” US District Judge Donald M Middlebrooks wrote earlier this month.

Ms James’s three-year civil investigation includes interviews with 65 witnesses and reviews of millions of documents.

The lawsuit seeks to recover $250m in lost revenue and penalties, as well as a judge’s order that would permanently bar the Trumps from holding any offices with businesses in the state.

A New York judge overseeing that case has also blocked Mr Trump and his company from transferring assets without first notifying the court and the attorney general’s office. An independent monitor is overseeing compliance with the order.

A trial has been set for October in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan.

In a separate case, two of the Trump Organization’s subsidiaries were convicted of three counts of falsifying business records, two counts of third-degree tax fraud, and one count each of scheming to defraud in the first degree, fourth-degree conspiracy, and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud.

Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail after pleading guilty to several tax crimes stemming from the investigation. He pleaded guilty to 15 violations of New York tax law in August after prosecutors accused him of participating in a years-long “systemic” fraud scheme and a “sweeping and audacious illegal payment” arrangement in which Trump companies paid him generous benefits – including free rent, luxury car leases, and private school tuition for his grandchildren – that were not reported for tax purposes.

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