OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The attorney-spokeswoman for former President Donald Trump didn’t have much good to say about New York Attorney General Letitia James following a court session last week.
James is seeking $250 million in alleged damages from Trump and his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., as well as a permanent ban on them from doing any business in the state of New York. The judge overseeing the case, Arthur Engoron, ruled in September, before the civil fraud trial began, that the former president inflated the value of his businesses and assets to get more favorable loan rates, a ruling that Trump has denied.
In an interview with Newsmax TV, attorney Alina Habba referred to James, who has attended some of the trial, as “not that bright.”
“She’s just not that bright. I’m sorry, I have to say it,” she said, adding that she doesn’t believe James has a good case. “I’ve seen their case; I’ve seen their lawyers. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
“Just because a bank who’s giving you a loan says it’s worth what the loan amount is, which is what happens when anybody takes a loan out, they’re never going to say the real value,” she continued, per The Hill. “They’re going to say what they want to say and not a penny more, or what the loan amount is and not a penny more.”
“She needs to educate herself, maybe go to some — I don’t even know how to express how ridiculous this is,” Habba said. “It’s like being in a circus with a bunch of — I mean, what I want to say I can’t say on TV, but it’s crazy. You know, it’s just ridiculous. Anybody with a brain understands that this is just completely insane.”
Meanwhile, a former federal prosecutor ripped James for going after Trump in a case where there was no financially injured party.
In an op-ed, Andrew McCarthy said that James is “inventing losses no one ever suffered” to try to “get Trump.”
Trump has countered that none of the banks and other companies he did business with over the years ever lost money or were financially injured in any way.
McCarthy essentially supports Trump’s argument, writing in National Review: “The case against the former president lacks victims, so Tish James and Arthur Engoron are inventing some.”
The former prosecutor went on to note that if Trump had really defrauded banks out of more than $168 million, they would have no doubt sought legal remedy from him, but they never did that because, he argued, they never lost money.
“That is not stopping elected progressive Democrats Letitia James and Arthur Engoron, the state attorney general and her cat’s paw in a judge’s robe, from concocting a mammoth fraud scheme masterminded by Trump in which we’re to believe the banks lost their shirts . . . but just forgot to complain about it,” he wrote.
He went on to note that since Engoron ruled before the trial even started Trump committed fraud, that left the former president “no incentive to litigate as if he were in a normal legal proceeding.” As such, Trump has been left to spar with the judge and the prosecutors to demonstrate that it is little more than a partisan proceeding, McCarthy wrote.
Later, he noted:
The ongoing trial that has followed Engoron’s ruling centers on what the damages for Trump’s infraction should be. There is more to it than that, as I elaborated here, but in the main the trial is about determining whether Engoron, at James’s urging, will disgorge Trump and his real-estate empire of $250 million or more in what she maintains are “ill-gotten gains.”
Obviously then, the Trump defense seeks to minimize the damages. Trump is trying to do that by denying that there was any fraud at all, arguing that his assets are worth more than what is claimed in the SFCs. But Engoron keeps cutting Trump and his lawyers off by insisting that he has already decided Trump (a) committed fraud, (b) overvalued his assets, and (c) cannot be insulated by the disclaimer in his SFCs (advising counterparties to do their own due diligence in evaluating asset values).
That has left the former president wondering why even have a trial if the outcome was predetermined, McCarthy said.