Donald Trump’s Fantasy Self Worth

Yesterday, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump and his two sons have engaged in fraud since July 13, 2014, overstating the value of Trump properties by at least $812 million dollars and possibly as much as $2.2 billion.

The core of the scathing ruling — which imposed sanctions on his attorneys and ordered the dissolution of some of the properties — describes the fantasy world of Trump’s business valuations.

Exacerbating defendants’ obstreperous conduct is their continued reliance on bogus arguments, in papers and oral arguments. In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies; the Attorney General of the State of New York does not have capacity to sue (never mind all those cases where the Attorney General has sued successfully) under a statute expressly designed to provide that right; all illegal acts are untimely if they stem from one untimely act; and square foot subjective.

That is a fantasy world, not the real world.

Engoran went one by one, describing the properties that Tish James had demonstrated Trump Organization had overvalued:

He described how Trump (and a purported expert Trump brought in to pitch Mar-a-Lago’s value) repeatedly defied objective value. There is no such thing as “objective” value; square footage is a subjective process (though Chris Kise did admit at oral arguments that it is actually an objective number); the value of MAL is based on a realtor’s “dream” of “anyone from Elon Musk to Bill Gates” to “Kings, emperors, heads of state” who might overpay to own Trump’s beach resort.

In response to the ruling, both failsons rushed to Twitter to complain that Judge Engoran used the Palm Beach assessment for Mar-a-Lago, which of course incorporates the promises not to turn the property into a residence, rather than the dream-casting of their expert.

In doing so, Eric may have confessed to tax fraud, given that Palm Beach has been taxing Mar-a-Lago as a as a social club rather than a private residence.

That’s sort of the point: When the Trump men’s fantasies butt up against objective reality, they simply claim they’ll break their contracts, maybe even the law, to find a way to fluff up their own value to match their delusions.

Which brings us to one of the most telling passages in Engoron’s ruling. He quotes Trump as saying that market value of all this doesn’t matter because the Saudis will happily pay whatever he demands.

The defenses Donald Trump attempts to articulate in his sworn deposition are wholly without basis in law or fact. He claims that if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the SFCs were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time (i.e.; “but you take the 2014 statement, if something is much more valuable now — or, I guess, we’ll have to pick a date which was a little short of now. But if something is much more valuable now, then the number that I have down here is a. low number”) [citation omitted] He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because he could find a “buyer from Saudi Arabia” to pay any price he suggests.10 [citation omitted]

10 This statement may suggest influence buying more than savvy investing.

This is their out. This is the out that Jared Kushner already pursued. This may be the underlying basis for Trump’s LIV golf tournament deal.

Trump confessed, in a sworn deposition, that if he can’t make objective reality match his own delusions, he’s sure the Saudis will bail him out.

An interesting service the Saudis are offering.

216 replies
  1. Rugger_9 says:

    The fraud works in multiple ways. Having a blank check from the Saudis means Defendant-1 is intending to engage in influence peddling. Having lower values in official filings for tax purposes rips off the local governments (FL, NJ, NY, etc.), but once the damages are assigned in NY, AG James can look around for assets to seize unless TrumpOrg pays up in full. That might not be so good for Defendant-1’s ego and preferred story line.

    One wonders if any of the PAC money used to finance the criminal defenses will also make it to the civil cases, but I think it will. Is that a crime to divert money that way?

    • ThomasJ7777 says:

      Given his track record, I would assume that Trump wakes up every day and commits crimes.

      He commits frauds, launders money to finance other crimes, uses money that is the fruit of crime to finance bribery, witness tampering, blackmail, coercion, etc etc

      For example, Save America commits wire fraud. Then Trump steals that money from the PAC, and uses it to hire corrupt lawyers to represent witnesses in his other crimes, and they suborn perjury and file baseless lawsuits to obstruct criminal investigations.

      • Wajimsays says:

        And to think I’m a regular desperado when I hit 35mph in a 25mph zone on the way to work. Gotta up my game

      • Peacerme says:

        Wealthy people break more laws. (Too tired to link the studies but I did look them up. Easy google).

        And another study says poor people sacrifice more when they share.

        That New Testament Jesus stuff contained some kernels of truth.

        Greed is a disease just like addiction. Dehumanizing, self aggrandizing, cognitive distortions and denial included.

        Emotions are the electrical current of connection. It’s not how much you give but the sacrifice made when given and the emotions that sacrifice creates within us that yields human connection and love.

        The human body rewards altruistic love with endorphins. But not when love is given to seek the reward.

        Excessive wealth is not good for mental health. No different than excessive drugs and alcohol.

        Without consciousness wealth for wealth sake numbs the soul.

        We intuitively know this. Rich Jesus, rich Buda, rich Ghandi. We know and yet…we compulsively seek it as we lose who we are as we connect with cash instead of each other.

  2. Lisboeta says:

    The Trumps seem quite upset that they can’t just “think of a number, any number” to support their claims. It doesn’t pay to piss off the judge!

    • SteveBev says:

      And to find so many ways to piss off a Judge is beyond brazen eg

      “Even with a preliminary injunction in place, and with an independent monitor overseeing their compliance, defendants have continued to disseminate false and misleading information while conducting business.”

      • ThomasJ7777 says:

        We are supposed to believe that half the country wants this recklessly irresponsible fraud, liar and rapist to be the president.

        Who is paying for these polls every week that are oversampling Republicans and undersamplingDemocrats deliberately, as part of the methodology?

        My hunch is that middle management at the major media companies are pocketing some handsome bribes to defraud the whole country for the benefit of the crime boss.

        But that doesn’t sound like a reasonable suspicion, does it? I’m just asking questions.

        • Rayne says:

          Don’t swag guesses like your hunch about bribes without some evidence to support it.

          All it takes is corporate ownership which is solidly right-wing to ensure right-wing perspectives are presented most often to media consumers, ex. John Malone of WB-Discovery which now owns CNN.

        • Lisboeta says:

          The MSM in the US is owned by half-a-dozen moguls who, unsurprisingly, all lean right-wing. Investigative journalism is now an under-valued skill. Apart, that is, from a few independent outlets such as the Pulitzer-winning ProPublica. And, of course, this site. (Thanks to you all!)

        • PieIsDamnGood says:

          >We are supposed to believe that half the country wants this recklessly irresponsible fraud, liar and rapist to be the president.

          Yes. The two times people revealed their actual preferences about 48% of those who bothered to vote wanted this recklessly irresponsible fraud, liar and rapist to be the president. Direct your irritation at your fellow citizens not the statisticians. Better yet, do something

        • Seashell says:

          Is it 48% of all actual voters or 48% of Republican voters? The WSJ reported several weeks ago that 68% of Rs would vote for him the primaries.

        • Violater says:

          48% of the people who own landlines and actually pick up phone and respond.

          [Welcome to emptywheel. For your own privacy and security, please avoid putting your email in the URL field when preparing to comment. I’ve removed it from this comment for you and replaced it with the URL you’ve used in your previous (9) comments. /~Rayne]

  3. Rugger_9 says:

    I think this will also call unpleasant attention to the 9-figure debt bill that IIRC was due in 2022 for servicing the various properties. As I recall (please correct me) pretty much the only banks willing to work with TrumpOrg was Deutsche Bank and the various sketchy operations run by Putin, et al. because TrumpOrg had stiffed and/or sued everyone else (including DB). So, who covered the debt payments? I’m asking because we’ve seen neither a foreclosure nor any announcement about restructuring that would probably need to be filed with regulators at some level.

    • Leu2500 says:

      I read somewhere that after selling the Trump DC hotel, Trump was able to roll over/delay the debt he had coming due by 4 years.

    • Playdohglobe says:

      New Trump Cash machine??

      Not sure Rugger if this is the path to your question? Who next is the new bank for Mr Trump.

      “Trump needed $225 million. A little-known bank came to the rescue.
      Gregory Garrabrants, a GOP donor and CEO of online Axos Bank, approved the loans after the former president’s main lender

      Axos Bank, formerly known as Bank of Internet USA, had grown from one of the first digital banks into a profitable, publicly traded company in part by specializing in loans to borrowers other banks had shied away from — all while navigating federal regulator scrutiny over its internal operations and a congressional hearing that cited its involvement in high interest rates on some loans.
      One day after the warning by Trump’s accounting firm became public, Axos’s blunt-spoken president and CEO — a Republican donor named Gregory Garrabrants — signed off on a $100 million loan for Trump Tower, the 58-story Manhattan skyscraper that had long been Trump’s home and base of operations, according to the bank.”


      • Rugger_9 says:

        I wonder how much equity will left on the properties after Judge Engoron’s order is fully executed. It could be one of the most spectacular financial immolations of all time, I need to get some marshmallows to roast…

  4. Upisdown says:

    The Saudis cut oil production to increase gas prices which helps their BFF Donald in the polls by hurting the Biden economy.

    It’s a lucrative relationship for MBS, Trump and Kushner. Not so nice for US consumers.

  5. Peterr says:

    That tweet from Eric Trump is rather telling.

    “Mar-a-Lago is speculated to be worth we’ll [well?] over a billion dollars . . .”

    The choice of verb here is spot on, which was kind of the judge’s point. Trumpworld is great at speculating, but not so good at justifying said speculations.

    “. . . making it arguably the most valuable residential property in the country. It is all so corrupt and coordinated.”

    Again, the word “arguably” is interesting. In an argument, you put forward evidence in a logical manner to support your ultimate valuation. As the judge noted, it is not that there is no evidence, but the evidence introduced supports the NY AG, not Trump. Likewise, the judge noted that absence of logic in any of this, save for a sort of “a word means what I want it to mean” Humpty Dumpty kind of logic.

    And that last sentence . . . Mar-a-Lago is all so corrupt and coordinated? OK, I’ll give him that one.

    • Rayne says:

      Sure would love to know if the Trumps’ argument is based in part on the income MaL has/can generate from things like selling memberships for inflated prices to foreign entities, or selling access to unlawfully retained documents.

      Ugh, I can’t stand it, been waiting for years now for a seizure of a Trump golf course. Need to see the membership rosters and income.

      • Peterr says:

        The judge noted that MaL has many restrictions on its uses as a private club and NOT a full time residence, and that it cannot be subdivided and developed. He also noted that Trump tried to argue that he could value the property as if those restrictions did not exist.

        The judge laughed. Loudly. And he did it in the finest legal manner: in a footnote that appeared in the section Marcy discusses above in the paragraph after the list of bullet points.

        Obviously, this Court cannot accept an “expert affidavit” that is based on unexplained and unsubstantiated “dreams”.

        “Obviously . . . unexplained . . . unsubstantiated . . .” More words defense counsel does not want to hear.

        And the use of quotes around “expert affidavit” and “dreams” is the legal Chef’s Kiss.

        • SteveBev says:

          The judge also made the point that the consequence of MAL having the status of a club rather than a private residence is that it is subject to taxation at a significantly lower rate.

          See p26 first paragraph

          The calculation for property taxes for MAL is not based on taxing the sale valuation of the property but …
          “Instead, the value is figured using an “income approach,” a process dictated by longstanding deed restrictions that prevents Mar-a-Lago from being redeveloped or used for any purpose other than a club, according to the property appraiser’s office. To determine the value, the agency estimates the club’s revenue and expenses and determines its net operating income based on confidential information the club provides. That income is then “capitalized” using a rate that translates it into value.”

        • Fedupin10 says:

          Which then begs the question, does anyone believe the real income and operating expenses of MAL were ever properly reported?

        • SteveBev says:

          Well I think we can be confident that every imaginable expense plausibly attributable to operating costs have always been claimed to the utmost extent.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The point is that property tax rates for businesses are calculated differently than those on residential property. The business rate is a function of the revenue generated by the business, a rough approximation for the business’s value.

          Residential property is valued using a placeholder for fair market value. The use of a placeholder allows the taxing authority to delay recognizing changes in property value. Whether that helps or hurts the owner is a function of local politics and market volatility.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          What lawyer would argue in pleadings and in court that her client can ignore any restrictions or limitations on property they care to, and break contracts and/or the law without consequence, in order to put any value on that property they chose – and to change it whenever it pleases them. Trump’s lawyers were lucky sanctions were only $7500/each.

        • jdmckay8 says:

          The judge noted that MaL has many restrictions on its uses as a private club and NOT a full time residence, and that it cannot be subdivided and developed. He also noted that Trump tried to argue that he could value the property as if those restrictions did not exist.

          I have known people in commercial real estate over the years, who bought property believing they could make $$ doing just what is described above: eg. some combination of changing:

          a) restrictions
          b) code (commercial residential)
          c) legality to subdivide

          These people were not close friends, but I knew pretty well. I always thought it was sleazy as hell, but the details I remember were they succeeded and made pretty big $$$ for one transaction.

          It seems to me the lesson is clear: don’t do shit like that on a large scale until you have the regulators in your pocket. There’s ample evidence that, if corrupt $$ maker needs a rule change mid-stream to get a payout, having corrupt regulator makes all the difference in the world.

          And done well, nobody usually notices.

          The similar event that immediately comes to mind: Pro Publica’s (I think, ???) reporting of Harlon Crowe (or maybe it was one of the other $b’aires on the Alaska fishing trip) bought Argentinian bonds for pennies on the dollar after their big default. Clarence Thomas had relationship with this guy, SCOTUS ruled Argentina had to pay face value on the bonds, for (as I recall) $2b + profit.

      • Patrick Carty says:

        HuffPo has a conversation with Michael Cohen this morning, who mentions (from an insider’s perspective) that once the IRS tallies the past actual taxable worth of Trump properties, and adds applicable interest and penalties, the bill is going to be a whopper, and forfeitures may be the least painful option.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Weiss won’t because his ambit is about Hunter Biden. However, SC Smith might be interested in potential motives for essentially engaging in document blackmail with the M-a-L stashes (including the off-site one here too) and money crunches have been a classic lever for a very long time in the IC.

      • Leu2500 says:

        Iirc, earlier filings in this case showed the math the Trumps used to get their MAL value. Something like: take the highest sales price for a house near MAL. Then calculate how many of those houses could fit on the MAL property. Multiply the house price times this number. Then raise that for some equally ridiculous reasons. Et voila! You arrive at the $700M, $800M on the SFC

    • Peterr says:

      From the opinion, p. 19:

      Furthermore, the defendants’ assertion that the discrepancies between their valuations and the OAG’s are immaterial is nonsense.”

      When the judge uses a word like “nonsense” to describe your lawyer’s assertion, you know things are going badly.

      But you don’t have to get to page 19 to see what the judge thinks of your case. On page 4, after presenting various introductory materials on the earlier pages, the very first paragraph of the discussion of the defense motion for summary judgement, the judge wrote this:

      Defendants’ arguments that OAG has neither capacity nor standing to sue under Executive Law section 63(12), and that the disclaimers of non-party accountant Mazars insulate defendants, invokes the time-loop in the film “Groundhog Day.” This Court emphatically rejected these arguments in its preliminary injunction decision and in its dismissal decision, and the First Department [the next appellate court up] affirmed both. Defendants’ contention that a different procedural posture mandates a reconsideration, or a fortiori, a reversal, is pure sophistry.

      Having your case compared to the time-loop in “Groundhog Day” should have been a big tipoff to anyone tuning in that this decision was not going to go well for the defendants. Adding in words like “emphatically rejected” and “sophistry” only add to the foreshadowing.

      If there was a musical soundtrack to a reading of this opinion, it would sound like “Jaws,” with the slow, deep, ominous “du-dum . . .du-dum . . . du-dum . . .” as the tension builds. You know that the shark is coming, that the shark is hungry, and that someone is going to get disemboweled. You don’t know how long it will take before the shark attacks, but the music makes it damn clear that someone is about to get eaten.

  6. P J Evans says:

    This still gets me: “He claims that if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the SFCs were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time”
    The values WERE inflated at the time the SFCs were submitted. Just because they’ll go up later doesn’t excuse that action.

        • Fran of the North says:

          IIRC, lower valuations were used with insurance companies. The logic being that property premiums are based on the cost to rebuild the property. Therefore lower valuations mean lower premiums.

        • vicks says:

          The way I understand it, Trump received favorable treatment -higher coverage and lower premiums by INFLATING his net worth and the value of his properties.
          Among other things his insurance company used his inflated properly values to underwrite a program that issued surety bond’s on behalf of Trump’s LLC…
          Unlike the loan fraud section of Trump’s troubles, IMHO immediate action will have to be taken on insurance issues like current policies and pending claims.

        • Fran of the North says:

          Lots of arcane math involved in the ‘insurable value’ conversation – both on the ‘how much to insure’ and ‘how much you get paid at loss’.

          To be properly insured on a replacement cost basis, you are required insure at least 80% of the cost to rebuild like kind using today’s material costs aka ‘replacement cost’. This could be to Trump’s benefit, as that number is for buildings only, exclusive of the land value.

          If we take the Engoron valuation # of $18M for MaL and WAG a land value of $ 8M, then if Trump insured the building for $ 8M (80% of $ 10M actual replacement cost for the building) he is properly insured if his policy states he is using 80% coinsurance.

          For a loss of less than $ 8M, he gets 100% of the loss. But he only gets replacement cost if the rebuild actually occurs. If not, he gets depreciated value of the portion of the property that is damaged.

          In this example, the max loss paid is $ 8M, meaning the owner of MaL is taking the risk for the last $ 2M in the event of a total loss.

      • Patrick Carty says:

        Well we’ve seen some pictures of the bathroom, and that certainly has lowered the resale value. And I hear the pool leaks too.

    • Konny_2022 says:

      That’s exactly what Engoron points to several times, e.g.:

      However, the SFCs are required to state “current” values, not “someday, maybe” values. At the time defendants provided the subject SFCs to third parties they unquestionably falsely inflated the value of the units based on a false premise that they were unrestricted.

      [emphasis added]

    • xxbronxx says:

      In The Minority Report, Phillip K Dick created the idea of “future crime”. In Trump’s claims that “if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the SFCs were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time” Trump creates “future innocence”.

  7. Alan_OrbitalMechanic says:

    Relying on the Saudis as a cosmic ATM only works as long as you have something the Saudis want.

    Trump and his kids are not in office anymore.

    Trump and his kids are not likely to acquire the presidency again.

    Trump and his kids are having a lot of assets impounded.

    I’m sure that the $2B that Kushner got has a lot of strings attached.

    About the only “asset” Trump has is his rather insane level of influence in the house of congress and his ability to get TV interviews. Even Saudi royalty does risk/benefit analyses and if they do there is no “benefit” to be had. Not any more.

    • Peterr says:

      As the polling in the GOP and the fundraising numbers will tell you, that “rather insane level of influence” is not insignificant. Trump tells McCarthy to jump, and he asks “how high?”

      I do agree that Saudi royalty does risk/benefit analyses, and does not hesitate to do something if they think it is worth doing. They knew that killing Jamal Khashoggi would come with international blowback, but they calculated that they would be able to weather that storm.

      I think back to the very first international trip Trump took after his inauguration, which was to Saudi Arabia. They laid it on thick for Trump, with Trump’s image being projected onto buildings and the grand spectacle welcoming him (remember the laying hands on the golden orb?).

      Then, two years later, when the killing took place and the political heat was rising, I would imagine that there was a phone call that came to Trump from MBS . . .

      MBS: Mr. Trump, I’d like you to do us a favor, though . . .

      Just a guess on my part, but one that fits with all publicly available facts.

      • Rayne says:

        There were a lot of moving parts before Khashoggi’s brutal assassination on October 2, 2018. KSA had already received at least one key benefit in February 2017 months before Trump’s May 2017 to KSA.

        Kushner’s unannounced pajama party with MBS in late October 2017 probably greenlit Khashoggi’s murder in addition to following up with the next steps the Trump crime syndicate would take with KSA.

        • drhester says:

          Kushner’s unannounced pajama party with MBS in late October 2017 probably greenlit Khashoggi’s murder

          chilling, b/c I believe it’s true

        • Savage Librarian says:

          In the Manhattan case, David Pecker and the mystery witness followed Costello’s testimony in the grand jury. Also, Pecker, Kacy Grine and Dylan Howard had a meeting in the Oval Office with Trump and Kushner on 7/17/17. Remember the big, glossy magazine they published for MBS and Donald in March 2018?

          “[Kacy] Grine is pictured in the magazine standing next to a grinning President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. The photograph was taken during a July 17, 2017, visit to the White House, during which Grine, David Pecker, and top AMI executive Dylan Howard met with Trump and, briefly, with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who oversees the administration’s Middle East peace initiatives. The sit-down came as Pecker sought to do business in Saudi Arabia, where all aspects of commerce are tightly controlled by the royal family.

      • Alan_OrbitalMechanic says:

        “(remember the laying hands on the golden orb?)”

        I can only imagine what they might have gotten had they used a lava lamp.

    • RitaRita says:

      Trump may not care that his contention about the Saudis makes them look like fools who are willing to part with large sums of money without due diligence. But I can’t think that sits well with the Saudis. I doubt that it is true. I think the Saudis understand the strategic importance of influence buying. Trump may be so narcissistic that he thinks he can sell anything for a high price. He just doesn’t realize what the purchaser is getting in return.

      His assertion about the Saudis also is a bit of projection. In this regard, I can’t help but think about Trump’s purchase of the Plaza Hotel at an extravagant price without doing any due diligence.

    • Mart7890 says:

      Heard an energy expert speculate that the Saudi squeeze on oil could drive prices above $8/gallon come October 2024. That could very well get Trump elected even if in he is in jail and displaying full blown dementia.

        • bmaz says:

          Ooof. It’s $5.59 at the closest service station, but $4.89 at Costco not far away. Still painful though. Not sure it has anything to do with Biden.

        • timbozone says:

          Yes, the current speculation is that Saudi Arabia is trying to help Russia get around economic sanctions thereby.

  8. Konny_2022 says:

    I find the parts of the ruling where Judge Engoron takes the defendants’ arguments to pieces very enlightening. Sort of summary before he gets to the sanctions:

    One would not know from reading defendants’ papers that this Court has already twice ruled against these arguments, called them frivolous, and twice been affirmed by the First Department.


    Defendants’ conduct in reiterating these frivolous arguments is egregious. We are way beyond the point of “sophisticated counsel should have known better”; we are at the point of intentional and blatant disregard of controlling authority and law of the case. This Court emphatically rejected these arguments, as did the First Department. Defendants’ repetition of them here is indefensible.

    Christopher Kise is among those who are sanctioned.

  9. we're not in kansas anymore says:

    The listing of the Aberdeen overvaluation (“£164,196”) appears to be picking up what is surely a typo in the ruling: “£164,196.704.” [sic]. The decimal point before “704” has to be a comma, otherwise the per-residence over-valuation would be only £109, which wouldn’t be worthy of inclusion in the fraud allegations.
    (Moderators: name change from a too-short one I used to comment once or twice before.)

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

    • velcroman says:

      In Europe, periods are used as thousands separators. I imagine whoever “translated” missed a period, and it converts to roughly $200M.

      • HikaakiH says:

        Use of periods as thousands separators and commas for decimal separator is common in continental Europe, but the UK uses commas for thousands separators and periods for the decimal separator, as per US and other former British colonies.
        This is just a typo.

  10. scroogemcduck says:

    “He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because he could find a “buyer from Saudi Arabia” to pay any price he suggests.”

    Substitute “Saudi Arabia” for “Egypt” and the only meaningful difference between this and Senator Robert Menendez is that Trump has confessed in a sworn deposition.

    Jack Smith, I hope you are watching.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exaggeration is not always your friend. The two cases are nothing like that comparable so far. For starters, the breadth and depth of evidence is different. Trump has this biggie civil decision that’s gone against him, yet to be appealed, while Menendez’s criminal prosecution has yet to reach court.

  11. StellaBlue says:

    I still do not understand why this is a civil action. If any other person on the planet tried to commit this bank/tax fraud I suspect it would result in criminal charges with personal liberty at stake. When I apply for a mortgage my valuation of the property is never considered, an independent appraisal is used. Why are bank officials charged as well?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      This is a civil action in state court because the NY state AG has no jurisdiction over criminal matters, and the Manhattan DA has so far declined to prosecute.

      As a civil matter, James’s burden of proof is more likely than not, whereas the Manhattan DA would have to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. But James’s case so far suggests she has ample evidence for her claims. Obtaining a summary judgment this scathing is a rare event.

      • Peterr says:

        To be fair, any time there is a summary judgment, it is bound to be scathing because the judge is saying “the other side has no possible argument to counter the obvious facts (or lack thereof) in evidence.”

  12. Norske23 says:

    I hope the state attorneys general where all non-NY Trump properties are located are watching and learning. It’s not like this activity would have been limited to NY.

    • hippiebullsht says:

      and get NY state puff marshmallow goo all over their courts for an Org that has the half-life of an election campaign before it implodes?
      Watchful waiting seems smart enough for now…
      Palm beach and Florida are full of dumb meddling idiots though, some kind of crap-tasm is bound to shake up there

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Unnecessary for out of NY state properties that are ultimately owned and controlled by entities in NY that are under the control of a receiver are within the receiver’s authority to dispose of. Wherever those entities are incorporated, DE or NV, for example, or the BVI, Trump’s principal place of business, and where he engaged in his management and control of his entire organization, is/was in NY state.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Trump will litigate that until he and Ivana enjoy the same tee time, as will Eric and Don Jr, if they’re able. More immediately, a receiver will have their work cut out for them cataloguing and creating an org chart for all of Trump’s 500 plus entities, to see which of them it has authority over.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As Peterr said elsewhere, Engeron appointed Jones as a “monitor” last year for these same entities, not receiver. Her powers are more limited. They are largely to observe and record, and to try to persuade management to follow the rules. She is on record as saying management is preventing her from doing her job.

          She might have more persuasive authority now, but I doubt it. This ruling will be regarded as an existential threat by the Trumps. For one thing, who knows what other problems she and/or the receivers might uncover, including criminal misconduct.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As Peterr also pointed out, who knows when the receivers will be appointed. The first question is whether Trump wins a stay on the appointment of the receivers pending the outcome of his appeals.

  13. biff murphy says:

    “He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because he could find a “buyer from Saudi Arabia” to pay any price he suggests”

    “10 This statement may suggest influence buying more than savvy investing”

    He deserves to be picked apart…Again and again.

  14. boloboffin says:

    Based on Failson Eric’s tweet, could Palm Beach Country revalue the property as residential and collect back taxes as a penalty for violating the non-residential agreement?

    • Rugger_9 says:

      I suppose the city and county could, if they had the political will for the blowback from the friends of M-a-L which will include lots of rich folk. With lawyers.

      Worth a shot.

      • iamevets says:

        My understanding is the neighbors sued Trump to keep him from living there and lost. He broke his 1998 agreement not to use it as a residence. I suspect many of his neighbors don’t like him.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          His argument was that he was a club employee, and therefore allowed to live there.

          Technically true, but reminds me of Goldfinger’s response to James Bond, after Odd Job tore off the head of the statue with his hat: “What does the Club Secretary have to say?” “Nothing, Mr. Bond. I own the Club.”

  15. Carolannie says:

    I think what this really says is that the Trumps have been living on borrowed money all this time, a Ponzi scheme of self-dealing.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. I have changed your username on this comment from “Carol” (which is too common as there are several Carol/Carole here) to “Carolannie” which you used on your last known comment. Please also use the same email address each time; we don’t even ask for a valid email, just that you use the same one consistently. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Not too far off, remembering how Defendant-1 made lots of hay about being the ‘king of debt’ having other people pay for his stuff before pulling the plug. See Trump U, Trump Steaks, Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Airlines, etc. for examples of how it worked. Perhaps closer to a pump and dump but skeevy regardless.

      Then Defendant-1 discovered the virtues of cash when it was time to buy Aberdeen and Turnberry.

      Eric keeps proving the point about being the ‘stupid’ one, trying to make a tactical play with a strategic blunder. Both he and DJTJ stand to be very far out into the cold if this is collapsing like it very well might. Neither of them grasp the fact that being a named executive equals ownership. One wonders what Lara thinks of her hubby.

    • Jim Luther says:

      The receivership may find it difficult to recover if Trump did indeed have competent tax planning. My first career was in tax at a firm that had many wealthy clients. Typically, the clients held very little equity in their real estate.

      Frequently an interest only mortgage was held by a related offshore entity, but it was at defensible market terms with the exception of the LTV being high. Tax deductible interest was paid domestically, and tax free interest revenue was collected offshore. So at any time, the owner had little equity and considerable tax deductions. Depreciable assets typically had large negative tax basis as the owner would guarantee the loan, so there was little incentive to sell – real estate disposals were done through tax-free 1031 exchanges.

      You inherit a multi-million dollar portfolio of buildings, resetting your daddy’s deep negative basis to FMV as of the date of death. The life insurance that the family trust had on your daddy paid off the mortgage so you own them free and clear. You immediately re-mortgage them with the family trust to the hilt and you are flush with cash. You spend the next 30 years depreciating the real estate and paying interest to the family trust in the Caymans. As the FMV goes up over the years you refinance and withdraw any equity for cash flow if you wish. You offset any income you have from any trust distributions with the real estate losses (because, of course, you are a real estate professional and the depreciation and interest are large). The trust carries life insurance on you, so when you die the mortgage is paid off. Your son receives the portfolio, basis is stepped up to FMV, loans are paid off via insurance, depreciation begins anew, and the building is again refinanced with the family trust.

      Largely tax and risk free for generations. If you wish to use a large number of entities, you can actually keep all of them technically bankrupt all the time. It is also easily possible to establish an intentionally defective trust with yourself as the sole trustee and your trusted Cayman lawyer as the successor trustee, should you resign. Faced with a really large problem, you simply resign as trustee and the trust magically transforms from a domestic to a foreign trust that must be pursued in the Caymans. Technically, all capital gains taxes are due at that moment, but you have tied this up in courts for years.

      • RitaRita says:

        We need tax reform.

        I wonder if Trump has followed his tax lawyers’ advice any better than his criminal lawyers’ advice.

      • wasD4V1d says:

        I wish there was a way to pin this comment. It explains why Trump appears to treat this as merely a nuisance, not an existential threat.

  16. CPtight617 says:

    10 This statement may suggest influence buying more than savvy investing.

    The judge’s footnote here is an astounding statement. Completely accurate, of course, but not what you typically find in civil matters regarding real estate business. It reads like the cock of a pistol — “Thinking of going this route to avoid accountability, Donald? Go ahead, FAFO.”

    This “out” may also be why SC Jack Smith sought records and was reportedly looking at Trump’s dealings with SA in the documents case. How much did Trump dangle TS/SCI info of interest to KSA for? Knowing how stupid and sloppy Trump is, there’s almost certainly a record of it somewhere…

    • Peterr says:

      Pro tip: *always* read the footnotes. Some of the best legal snark is in the footnotes.

      Another good one here is a note attached to the discussion of Trump Park Avenue, where Trump tried to pretend that rent-controlled apartments are just as valuable to the landlord as non-rent-controlled apartments. The judge laughed at this argument, including a discussion of how much this inflated their value (as much as +600% in 2014 and +64% in 2021) and then added this footnote:

      15 As every New Yorker knows, rent regulated units may be passed on from one generation to the next in perpetuity.

      Let that sink in for a minute. The judge is saying that Trump’s accountants and lawyers are dumber than every ordinary New Yorker — or that they think the judge is dumber than every New Yorker.

  17. HorsewomaninPA says:

    As I was reading this and listening to the coverage, all I could wonder was – would all of this be happening to Trump if he hadn’t run for President? In 2023, if he was never President, and never ran the flag up on the pole with “fraudster” on it for all to see, would he just be going about his business and making money through his favored tactics and pretending for all of us small folks that he was rich? I think he’d be enjoying himself now. What an idiotic and egomaniacal decision it was to run for President – typical Trump – danger to self and danger to others.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      It’s tempting to think that way, but since we’re speculating, I’ll speculate that Trump would have gone under years ago without being propped up by Russian money and that the Russians who provided that money wanted Trump to run for President. Thus, I think blustering idiot Trump would have sprinted into his chainsaw through one sordid manner or another.

      Still, I’ll support as likely the notion that plenty of fraudsters are operating in the Trump manner and happily getting away with it.

      • posaune says:

        Re: “that plenty of fraudsters are operating in the Trump manner.” I think that’s right. It makes me wonder how the NYC RE community will react to Judge Engeron’s ruling.

  18. sfvalues says:

    Trump admitting under oath to influence peddling seems stupid only because people keep forgetting that Trump doesn’t use language the same way normal people do. For a him, a deposition isn’t an opportunity to tell his side of the story, it’s an opportunity to do business. He’s conducting a public auction. Today’s Washington Post article from Aaron Blake has more specifics about his testimony, which I hadn’t realized from other coverage that Trump was talking about two specific properties: Seven Springs in NY and Turnberry in Scotland. He’s not communicating with the court, he’s broadcasting instructions to Saudi Arabia. He’s telling the Saudis which two properties he wants them to buy for a ridiculously inflated amount.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The process is not yet controlled by the receiver. There is a monitor, Barbara Jones, who reports to Engeron. She has less authority than a receiver. But subject to any stays imposed by appellate courts, Engeron might be able to halt or vet any disposition of material assets of these entities.

    • Chetnolian says:

      I don’t know enough about Seven Springs but Turnberry sounds scarily possible, though my guess is that in a fire sale MBS would not be offering magic money.

  19. HardyWeinberg3 says:

    speculated to be arguably the most valuable residential property (oh except it is known not to be allowed to be residential, at least under current ownership…), that is some rock solid valuation there.

  20. Matt Foley says:

    When I value a property it’s worth just what I think it’s worth.
    When I declassify a document it becomes mine because I think it.
    When I use a word it means just what I think it means.

    I wish we all had his magic powers.

    • Epicurus says:

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
      ― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

  21. Chetnolian says:

    No one has mentioned Footnote 9. A judge who quotes Chico Marx in “Duck Soup” in support of his judgement is seriously pissed off.

    • David F. Snyder says:

      Instead of filing in Ergoron’s court, the defense attorneys should have just posted their argument on the Bob Loblaw Law Blog (ref. “Arrested Development”).

      “The worst mistake is to not learn from one’s mistakes.”

      • Spooky Mulder says:

        “Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else noticed? You don’t need double talk, you need Bob Loblaw”

    • Yankee in TX says:

      The quote is occasionally misattributed to Groucho since Harpo and Chico have both dressed up as Groucho to fool Mrs. Teasdale/ Margaret Dumont. This is just ahead of the mirror scene in Duck Soup. I think that this is more parallels the judge as Harpo and Chico refusing to take an actually bouncing check from Abbie the fishmonger who was peddling his fake valuation of the painting in Animal Crackers!

  22. Steve S from CT says:

    I was a commercial real estate agent in New York City for a short time long ago, and I can attest that square footage is most definitely subjective in that world. More accurately, the “dollars per square foot” figure is understood as a marketing ploy, and you’re expected to negotiate the rent you’re willing to pay based on the actual physical space you’ve inspected. Not saying that’s right, but it is common. In any case, while Trump was a uniquely corrupt President, I think he’s probably a pretty typical real estate developer, and now that he’s brought attention to this I hope the powers that be crack down on the industry as a whole. Seems highly unlikely that he’d be the only guy who’s figured out how to live a billionaire’s lifestyle while somehow never earning any taxable income.

    • RitaRita says:

      Apparently Trump listed his apartment’s square footage as 3 x as much as it was. Is it common to puff up the square footage by that amount?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As Engeron noted, it might be common for buyer and seller to argue over square footage discrepancies of 10-20%, owing to irregular shapes, gross (outside wall to outside wall) vs. net living space, etc. Three hundred percent is egregiously over the top.

      • bidrec-gap says:

        There is space and then there is space. Some of the “portmanteau” buildings were one size and then more than tripled. These are buildings that were built to be tall during the depression and then because of lack of money they weren’t. Later their full height was realized and then more because modern building technology means the extra floors are lighter than when the building was originally designed.

        450 Lex, The Hearst Building, The Wilfred Building which became a Novotel.

        Chock-Full-Of-Nuts had its best year ever when its 50 year lease on Water St was bought out to make way for Nat West offices.

        Also, some respectable buildings are in some sense worthless. 120 Broadway which served as the offices of the Duke Brothers in Trading Places and also featured in The Wolf Of Wall Street has been in receivership for most of its existence according to Grant’s Interest Rate Observer.

        From the 48th floor of the GM Building you can look down on the roof of the 56 floor Trump Tower.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump has always lied about his size. He used to inflate it. At his age now, he claims much smaller numbers than the real ones.

    • velcroman says:

      I think you can argue whether a utility closet is included, or round up for a curved room, but Trump said a 11,000 sf apartment was 30,000 sf.
      There is subjective, and then there is fraudulent.

      • Steve S from CT says:

        Yes, I certainly agree that Trump’s claims are egregious and fraudulent. Also, I’m not defending the building owners / leasing agents by any means. I’m pointing out that it’s common practice (or was, anyway) for “listed” square footage to be substantially different from the actual square footage in NYC commercial real estate. Not saying it’s “fraud” per se because commercial tenants have agents and lawyers and know what they’re getting into. However, it’s an indicator of the (intentional) lack of transparency in the world of real estate, where LLCs own LLCs and all the numbers are magic.

    • Antarctic says:

      Tfg also started the thing where developers of tall NYC buildings lie about their height and floor count. Apartment 5601 might be in what the Department of Buildings lists at a 40 story building. And then there was his depraved comment on 9-11 about how now his was biggest, which it wasn’t.

      • Bobster33 says:

        I’ve worked on commissioning half a dozen of buildings in CA that have a 40th floor, but have no elevator stops for floors 21-28 (because those levels have been renamed with higher numbers). I don’t know if TFG started this trend but it happens in talls and super talls.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          It is common in NYC. Back in the days of point-to-point cabling for dumb terminals our cabling contractor would charge by the floor and sometimes going from 23 to 26 was only one floor. They would negotiate with the customer. Also, some companies, with permission from the landlord and the buildings department would knock a hole in the wall and join the 17th floor of one building with the 19th of the building next door to make a larger office.

  23. Frank Probst says:

    I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around how rare this is in the legal world. How often does a judge make a summary judgement in favor of the plaintiff(s)? Not to mention one with penalties this severe?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t have a number, but it’s very rare. The decision is owing to Trump’s uniquely glaring, continuous and egregious conduct.

      • Peterr says:

        It is also due to the preponderance of numbers in this case, and there is no dispute of the facts that need to be argued at trial. All the judge needed to do was compare the numbers on the various exhibits, and the result is glaringly obvious. “This third party gave you an assessment that says your property is worth X (see document A-1) , and you said Y on your financial statements (see document A-2)” is kind of hard to argue against.

        It’s a document case, and Trump boxed himself in when he signed off on the fraudulent financial statements.

    • CPtight617 says:

      I think it’s also an indication of the parking garage-level lawyering on Trump’s side and the ‘extremely strong and powerful’ case AG James has made against Trump so far with documents and deposition transcripts. Funny, but Trump might have been better off with a jury, after all.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If successfully appointed, the receivers of these entities would dispose of their assets at whatever price the market will bear – noting the fire sale character of the disposition – and pay liabilities in full, to the extent the proceeds permit it. (Trump would never pay liabilities at face value.) The balance, if any, would go to the shareholders, after all claims, tax liability, etc., are settled. That process will generate a host of taxable events, causing Trump to recognize profits and losses he might otherwise defer.

    It’s possible buyers might want to purchase collections of assets, grouped by location or kind of business, for example. They would normally want to keep a profitable business as a going concern. But verifying that profitability will be problematic, given the chaotic nature of Trump’s financial statements. Contract rights, such as licenses, would also be a problem. The value of the goodwill associated with Trump’s name is not likely to be going up. Trump would probably try to buy at least those not situated in NY.

    Trump might once have persuaded a few foreign billionaires to save his bacon by buying large chunks of property and letting him maintain a paid association with it. That seems possible but less likely now, as does obtaining sufficient debt to orchestrate a deal himself. This judgment makes the latter harder to do, because Trump’s most valuable assets are real property in NY, and he and his co-defendants are prohibited from owning or controlling them, directly or indirectly.

    • Peterr says:

      I’m looking forward to “Trump Tower” becoming “Putin Palace” or “Erdogan Estates”.

      Or maybe George Soros could buy it from the receiver and rename it “Leftwing Lofts,” just to make right wing heads explode.

  25. velcroman says:

    So the ruling says

    any certificates filed under and by virtue of GBL § 130 by any of the entity defendants or by any other entity controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Jeffrey McConney are canceled


    within 10 days of the date of this order, the parties are directed to recommend the names of no more than three potential independent receivers to manage the dissolution of the canceled LLCs

    This raises several questions:

    What are the immediate effects of the cancellation? Is it subject to appeal? What is the timeline, generally, for such an appeal?

    Similar questions for the dissolution.

    You all know a lot more about this than me. Any answers would be much appreciated.

  26. OldTulsaDude says:

    The only Saudi string the Trump/Kushner clan could pull I think would have to be a receipt for MBS actually ordering the Kashoggi killing, which the Saudis would not want come to light, or unless there is some underhanded nuclear sales that are unknown. (Let’s not forget Flynn working on this idea.).
    Most likely it is only an example of Trump’s narcissism convincing him of his importance to the Saudis.

    • Datnotdat says:

      Jan. 2017 J. Kushner applied for security clearance. May 2017 MBS says there is a corruption crackdown coming. In June MBS upended the line of succession, moving himself from 7th to first. That same month Saudi Arabia and UAE blockaded Qatar. JK campaigned for SA and UAE, including with his father in law. On September 15, it was reported that JK (and Ivanka) had interim Top Secret/SCI clearances. In late October JK traveled to Riyadh, holding meetings with MBS lasting to 4 am on several nights. On November 4th MBS detained 200 +/- “wealthy businessmen and princes” in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Those detained individuals transferred billions of dollars to the Saudi Arabian state. Some are still detained. Some are known to be dead. Others remain missing.
      The Intercept had this story back in 2018. The subhed of their story is …MBS “told confidants that Kushner discussed the names of royal family members opposed to his power grab.”

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This judgment can and will be appealed. Pending resolution of the appeal, all or part of Engeron’s decision could be stayed, including or especially the appointment of one or more receivers. Engeron is asking the parties to name three potential receivers. He may appoint one or all three, or choose his own. Trump is not likely to propose credible names.

    Cancelling a fictitious name (traditionally known as doing business as…) certificate means that all the parties need to transact any business, assuming they are allowed to transact any, under their own names. It’s to avoid defendants trying to work around this judgment.

    • velcroman says:

      So a “certificate” is a DBA… I could have looked up GBL 130, sorry to waste your time.

      But the second order I mentioned says something about cancelled LLCs. That seems like a different entity?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A business registers a dba by filing a fictitious name certificate under NY General Business Law sec. 130. In the scheme of this decision, cancelling those certificates is a nit, but one designed to force the defendants to make clear to the public who it is doing business with. More importantly, the ruling also takes away the authority of the defendants to do business in NY, even under their own names.

        Cancelling the LLCs’ licenses to do business in NY is a preliminary to their dissolution, which is what Engeron is appointing a receiver to oversee. (There are more defendants than just the LLCs.) When that process starts depends on whether all or part of this decision is stayed pending appeal.

        • P J Evans says:

          Back when newspapers ran classified ads, you’d see that kind of legal notices. There were papers that existed solely to publish them, in some areas.

        • Bobster33 says:

          Two years ago I had to take out an ad in one of those papers for my business to continue to operate under its name, so this could still be going on. Hello San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      That particular bit of business did come to mind…

      Another question… if Trump’s been committing fraud on loans, insurance policies, and taxes, wouldn’t also mean he’s been committing wire fraud too? That much money flying around… how’s it moving? Bank fraud?

      I hope that doesn’t sound stupid… just asking…

      I recently read Mark Pomeranz’ book, ‘People Vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account’ and Pomeranz sure seemed to think Trump deserved to be charged… he sounded rather annoyed w/ Alvin Bragg for not pressing on…

  28. vigetnovus says:

    Many people ask “why does Trump so inflate his assets when he knows they are not worth that, and anyone doing due dilligence knows that?”

    It’s simple. Trump’s core business is not a legitimate one. He never really deigns to make a profit. He is simply a MONEY LAUNDERER for hire and his advantage is that his financial medium, real estate, is one of the few assets that is wholly worth whatever someone wants to pay for it says it’s worth. And, given his fame, one can sort-of kind-of justify such overvaluations.

    The thing to wrap your head around is that Trump’s assets aren’t really his. They are essentially properties he’s “bought” with other people’s dirty money. Which he then overvalues on paper and mortgages to the hilt for loans that he uses to “spend” the proceeds on his lavish lifestyle and his other properties. Except, he’s not really getting anything tangible for that money, he’s merely returning it to the criminals who “gave” it to him in the first place, thereby completing the laundering loop. And he keeps a certain percentage of that loan money for his own uses, his commission if you will.

    When the loans come due, he either sells one of the properties for an absurd sum to the next criminal (wash, lather, rinse, repeat) and uses the “proceeds” to pay off the loan, or he just stiffs the bank out right and litigates them ad nauseum until they just give up, or accept a pittance in return.

    The other key to this game is the undervaluation for the taxman. By doing that, it allows him to hold on to ostensibly very expensive properties for far longer than he could ever afford, and maximizes the value of his commission to be transnational organized crime’s money launderer of choice.

    He’s also had his side hustle of licensing his name instead of actually owning the property, but I think that gig is up now that everyone has seen how toxic he is.

    That’s it, that’s Trump’s business in a nutshell. And he’s pretty much been doing it since the 80’s.

  29. WilliamOckham says:

    The headline on this post sent my thoughts in a slightly different direction. I think Trump’s lack of self-worth in the psychological sense is really what drives his need to inflate the value of his assets to the level that he lost this spectacularly on that count.

    The language the judge uses reminds me a bit of how some judges respond to “sovereign citizen” claims. And justifiably so, as best I can tell.

    • SteveBev says:

      This is particularly so with respect to what Trump is trumpeting on social media
      “There is a Very Powerful DISCLAIMER “

      In the body of the ruling and in the litigation this purported disclaimer is referred to as the “worthless clause” especially by Trump.

      The Judge deals with this pp12-15 analysing the clause, the defendants claims and evidence as to its meaning and effect, the true construction of the clause, the applicable law

      And on p 13 states

      “However the defendants reliance on these ‘worthless’ disclaimers is worthless.”

      And p 14
      “Thus, the “worthless clause” does not say what the defendants say it says, does not rise to the level of an enforceable disclaimer, and cannot be used to insulate fraud as to facts peculiarly within their knowledge, even vis-a-vis sophisticated recipients”

      This attempt by the defendants to use purported legalistic formulations as magic incantations to bend reality to their Will is very reminiscent of the SovereignCit invocations of pseudo legalistic obscurantism.

  30. Stacy (Male) says:

    Perhaps we could simplify things by holding an inquiry to determine whether 45 has ever done anything that WAS NOT fraudulent and/or criminal. The proceeding would be much less prolonged and complex and would yield an opinion that was less than a page in length.

    • Knox Bronson says:

      I don’t think Trump has ever done a straight deal in his life. I don’t think he can. I believe, just my intuition, that, if he doesn’t get over on the other party in the deal, cheat them, grift them somehow, did just a straight deal, then he loses. He doesn’t win.
      And that would make him a loser.
      I still think about that video clip when Supreme Court Justice Kennedy resigned (and all the stuff with his son and Deutsche Bank, etc.) and Trump and he walked away from the gathered and the cameras and Trump said something that infuriated the former justice. I’d sure like to know what that was about. I think Trump was trumpin’ the ex-judge in his inimical way.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Useful to remember that Engeron granted summary judgment on only one issue. There are another eight that are going to trial, possibly starting on next Monday. One of those relates to whether Trump has to disgorge profits from his fraud. If so, that might be a pretty penny.

      • ShiroBoy says:

        Actually it’s Justice, not judge, Engoron, and he sits (as an elected jurist) on the Supreme Court of the State of New York. NY trial judges love both the title and the court name and have for years resisted any change in either to reflect their actual place on the totem pole. They get special license plates, with this designation, too.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    An issue TV lawyers seem to be having trouble with is what assets of the defendants the summary judgment ruling covers. Assuming Engeron’s decision survives intact, it covers the assets under the ownership and control of the legal entity defendants for whom a receiver is appointed, wherever located.

    Those assets are of various kinds. They appear to include ownership of buildings, real estate, and businesses, such as golf clubs, and fractional interests in similar property he doesn’t own outright (and subject to the control of other parties). They include contract rights, such as the licenses for the use of Trump’s name, and revenue streams for property management. They include trademarks and copyrights, cash and stock investments.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    NY courts have authority to appoint receivers for many purposes. Judge Engeron proposes to appoint one to oversee the dissolution of the legal entity defendants in this case, which his judgment would prohibit from continuing to do business in NY. Those entities own or control the vast majority of known Trump assets.

    The defendants also include Donald Trump, his two older sons, Eric and Don Jr, and two Trump executives, who are also prohibited from doing business, directly or indirectly, in NY. So, they couldn’t just turn around, use Saudi money, and buy the Trump businesses as a going concern and continue to run them.

    A non-Saudi buyer would not normally buy a Trump-owned legal entity, except at an enormous discount. Their financial statements are worthless and lord knows what off-balance sheet liabilities they may have. So, the odds are the assets themselves would be transferred or sold. That creates taxable events, the recognition of gain or loss, that will have to be taken into account, uncomfortable events for Trump at the best of times.

    Trump seems likely to sue the receivers, if ultimately appointed, almost daily over literally everything they do. Engeron will retain authority over the receivers and the process of dissolution. I hope he retains authority over every suit against them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Obviously, Trump could buy and hold assets not located in NY, such as most of his golf courses. But they would have to be sold or transferred by the defendant that owns them to him or a legal entity he controls. That establishes a market value and creates a taxable event.

      • Peterr says:

        This is where things get interesting.

        The Aberdeen golf course in Scotland is an overseas property owned by the Trump Corp, and so fell within the scope of this case. If a receiver ultimately is charged with dissolving the assets of Trump Corp, would Trump be allowed to sell or transfer the Aberdeen GC to an entity of his choice, or would the receiver simply put it out for bid/auction and see who bites?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          In the context of a dissolution, the property of the legal entities in receivership becomes the property of the court. It has authority to maintain and dispose of them, usually by authorizing their appointed receiver/fiduciary to do so. Trump and any other owners, directors, and officers lose their authority over that property.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As a fiduciary, and after getting approval from the court to do so, the receiver would attempt to arrange commercially reasonable sales of individual or groups of properties, such as the golf courses. That would include selling them in a private sale, through standard real estate channels, or via auction.

          If Trump could obtain financing – the receiver would want cash or something like it – he could try to buy whatever property is not located in NY.

        • Peterr says:

          “If Trump could obtain financing . . .”

          *snicker snicker snicker*

          And given how the folks in Scotland have viewed his stewardship of Aberdeen Golf Course, I would not be surprised if they reviewed his registration to act as a landlord under the “fit and proper person test”. See also here. The phrase “convicted of certain offenses” kind of leaps off the screen.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Whoever the buyer of these golf courses is, they would probably not buy the acreage. They would buy the legal entity, the business, that directly owns and presumably manages the golf course. Similar situation with other real property, including fractional interests of any property he doesn’t own outright. Trump hasn’t over 500 legal entities for nuffink.

    • SteveBev says:

      Are there provisions within NY civil law to deal with ‘vexatious litigants’?
      As I am sure you are aware such provisions exist in English law – if a person is found by the High Court to be a vexatious litigant, they are barred from initiating civil process unless granted permission by the court, and even when granted permission, subsequent filings in the proceedings are strictly controlled – so I wondered whether parallel provisions exist. Obviously this sort of impediment is a very drastic step to take. And I could see there may be constitutional problems with rules of that sort.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        CA has that for repeat offenders, after a court determination. IIRC the number is five bogus claims here, which was passed long ago by the defense.

        It will be interesting to see how long it takes Judge Engoron to go after licenses (looking at you, Alina) for the incompetent lawyering (e.g. the bench trial because Alina didn’t ask for a jury) and constant res judicata violations.

        • SteveBev says:


          I imagine that a Judge in charge of receivership has an array of powers to enforce compliance with court orders and otherwise deal with a recalcitrant party for any dilatory tactics or obstruction via specious disputes.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If and when Engoron is allowed, pursuant to the appellate process, to appoint a receiver for the legal entity defendants, the appointed receiver becomes an officer of the court. Their obligations as a fiduciary are owed to the court, not to the creditors, or owners or officers of the legal entities being dissolved.

          Likewise, the property of the legal entity defendants in receivership becomes the property of the court, which is authorized to maintain and dispose of it, through the services of the receiver. Existing owners and officers lose their ability to do that.

        • P J Evans says:

          FWIW, for a while the apt complex I was living in was in receivership – the owner had been using it for a tax loss, and the bank refused to refinance – and we wrote our rent checks to the receiver. It was several months before there was a new owner.

      • Peterr says:

        The $7500 fines levied here against the Trump attorneys is the result of one such provision for holding attorneys — not litigants, but their legal counsel — accountable for their own vexatious legal conduct.

        • SteveBev says:

          I note from the judgement pp 10-11, Engoron refers to $10,000 sanction against Trump in an earlier stage of the process upheld on appeal. The judge also referred to a nearly $1 million bundle of sanctions in SDFL for Trump personally and his lawyers, in which ruling on 15 September 2023 Judge Middlebrooks expressly had regard to what he found was “Movants acted in bad faith in bringing this lawsuit, and this case exemplifies Mr Trumps history of abusing the judicial process”

          So my musing was really about whether there was a possibility of preemptive restraint or whether the courts are reliant entirely on ex post facto sanctions for abusing judicial proceedings.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Since the property held by the defendant legal entities would become property of the court when their receiver was appointed, and the receiver would be an officer of the court acting under Engoron’s authority, Engoron would retain jurisdiction over challenges to the receiver’s authority and/or actions undertaken pursuant to his court’s authority.

  34. Joeff53 says:

    Last time I checked, valuation for legal purposes generally refers to the price a willing, disinterested buyer would pay a willing, disinterested seller in an arms length transaction.

  35. Old Rapier says:

    I’ve been daydreaming that if Trump lost Mar a Lago it could make a great and possibly much needed Florida leper colony

    • Bobster33 says:

      I was thinking more along the lines of Arlington National Cemetery. Make Mar a Lago a cemetery for Covid 19 victims and let TFG continue to live there.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        You mean “the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee”, as one of my favorite bloggers says at Lawyers, Guns, & Money, in their series on graves.

  36. bloopie2 says:

    Zillow lists one Palm Beach oceanfront lot, one acre, at $75 million; another, 2.3 acres, at $200 million. Home values in that area have skyrocketed in the last decade, and there isn’t much vacant land left. Many oceanfront houses are shown in the $50 to $75 million range. I can see MAL, if (if) sold as a single-family residence (but not subdividable), to easily go for $250 million or more.

    What that means as to this particular lawsuit, I have no idea. But any value would be way over $18 million, I think.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Gotta wonder if some of those home values might not increase with the exit of the orange ex-president and his entourages. I bet he could factor that into his already inflated future values….

    • Peterr says:

      But Mar-a-Lago is valued as a “club” and not a residential property, as laid out in the various documents signed by both Trump and Palm Beach County. This let Trump get a lower tax rate but prevents him from permanently residing there or subdividing it.

      If he wants to sell it as a single family residence at $250M, he’d have to get Palm Beach to re-designate the property as residential, and no serious buyer would sign on the deal until Trump got PB to sign off on that. Until that change in legal status happens, a valuation of $250M falls into the “someday, maybe” category that the judge laughed out of court.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      MAL might have a higher value if it were a single family home. But it’s not currently permitted to operate as one. Even renovating it for use as a single family home is currently prohibited. A financial statement prepared while those restrictions remain would be fraudulent if it did not recognize them.

      Assuming Trump were able to properly get out from under those restrictions – other than by breaking the law and contracts and telling authorities to “Sue Me!” – he would need to include the cost of doing so as a liability.

    • Ithaqua0 says:

      It can’t be sold as a single-family residence. It’s classified as a private club by Palm Beach, not a residence, and guests, including Trump, can’t stay there for more than three non-consecutive weeks per year. Trump gets around that by claiming he and his family are employees. The property isn’t dividable either.

      As a club, it brought in a little less than $22 million gross last year; my guess would be the net is in the $1 – $3 million range, depending on how well run it actually is. $18 million as a valuation seems low, but still in the plausible range, to me.Zillow has it more like $24 million, which seems reasonable, and doesn’t materially change anything concerning this lawsuit. Anything significantly above that is predicated on getting Palm Beach to reclassify the property.

      • bloopie2 says:

        Good comments all, and I agree with all; that’s why mine read “if (if)”. Just raising a point of conversation. And, of course, he’d be screwed if the town would not reclassify it; he could not realize the tremendous value increase. Still, as has been pointed out by many here before, Trump’s actions are taken for the here and now, to keep things moving in style, and he has always been able to defer negative consequences. Maybe he has gotten enough positive consequences from this deal, over the years, to make up for any negative future ones.

        Fun stuff, thanks for the replies.

        • xyxyxyxy says:

          The case is about fraudulent valuations. So one of the failsons tweets that it’s worth a billion so why are they screaming at assessor that assessment of $22million is too high? Let’s put in the billion dollar assessment and have them pay the real estate tax on that since it’s purchase.

      • Rayne says:

        Compare to other similar properties nearby. There are a couple within a stone’s throw which would be solid comps.

    • missinggeorgecarlin says:

      You have to take Zillow listings with a HUGE grain of salt. They can be wildly wrong and also are fairly easy to manipulate. I’ve sold a few of my homes myself and have noticed that the Z listing tends to trend a higher ‘value’ based on my list price.

      So if a few people in a small area, decided to list their homes for very high and overly optimistic ‘asking prices’, the Z info in that area would be skewed. I used to work with FL RE Appraiser #45 (there’s 5,000 of them now). It’s ‘worth’ what somebody will pay for it.

      Except in DJT’s case, they aren’t ‘arm’s length transactions’ if he’s money-laundering as many people are saying.

      • bmaz says:

        Zillow, and Redfin too, are both more interested in selling you reals estate services now than being accurate. So, yeah, they pump it up.

  37. xyxyxyxy says:

    His father and he have been doing this shit anywhere from half to a whole century. What took so long and why?

  38. Matt Foley says:

    “You’re supposed to pay no credence to what we say whatsoever.”
    –sworn testimony of Donald Trump regarding his property valuations

    Even HE doesn’t believe his own lies.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “My fake driver’s license says I’m over 21. Don’t believe it, because it’s fake. You’ll have to judge for yourself whether I’m over 21, but let me in the bar and serve me drinks anyway, because I’m thirsty.”

    • xyxyxyxy says:

      Speaking of other states, Christie has been chasing Trump for all his illegal activities but we need to remember all his crimes, Bridgegate, the Norcross Camden giveaways,…

  39. Jerry_28SEP2023_0806h says:

    One quibble: You state that “…Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump and his two sons have engaged in fraud since July 13, 2014…”. In the ruling, the Judge found that Trump and family engaged in fraud well before 2014, and gave specific examples back to 2011, but the statute of limitations only allowed him to impose penalties for their actions on or after July 13, 2014. This time limit is how Ivanka Trump Kushner was able to slither out from under these penalties, as her (alleged) crimes took place before that date.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too common (there are several Jerrys/Gerrys in this community) it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • Jerry_28SEP2023_0806h says:

        No, Ivanka was involved with running Trump Org for many years with a title of Executive Vice President, just not after 2016 (look up her bio on Wikipedia). News reports say the appeals court dropped her name from the list of defendants specifically due to the statute of limitations.

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your first username is far too common (there are several Jerrys/Gerrys in this community) it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. You posted this comment as “Jerry A” which still does not match the site’s minimum standard. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  40. MT Reedør says:

    Micheal Cohen claimed that Alina Habba did not check the box for jury trial, making this a bench trial. Is that true?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Apparently so. It’s arguable that the result Trump ends up with would have happened with or without a jury – the law and evidence seem to be profoundly against him – but I would not want to be Habba’s malpractice insurer.

  41. nord dakota says:

    I still don’t get why he and Melania get to continue violating zoning laws. Are they considered live-in resort staff?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Because they’re apparently not in violation. The argument, which was accepted, is that Trump is an employee of the club [he owns], MAL and is, therefore, allowed to live on site. She is probably a dependent family member.

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