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Buried in a damaging Tuesday ruling which found Donald Trump, his eldest sons, and family business liable for fraud was some judicial mockery of arguments made by the former president’s lawyers about how the square footage of his Trump Tower Triplex came to be calculated.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, on page 21 of one part of his summary judgment ruling in favor of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), first referenced the Marx Brothers and the classic film “Duck Soup.”
Engoron said that although the documents before him “clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business,” in violation of the law, the defense has insisted “that there is no such thing as ‘objective’ value; and that, essentially, the Court should not believe its own eyes.”
At the end of the last line, the judge tacked on a footnote with the Marx Brothers reference.
“As Chico Marx, playing Chicolini, says to Margaret Dumont, playing Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, in ‘Duck Soup,’ ‘well, who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”” the footnote said.
From here, the judge stated that square footage of the Trump Tower Triplex where Trump has lived for decades was overestimated by “a factor of three.” He also tore into the explanation the former president’s lawyers provided in their motions, that calculating square footage — measurements and math — is a “subjective process.”
“In opposition, defendants absurdly suggest that ‘the calculation of square footage is a subjective process that could lead to differing results or opinions based on the method employed to conduct the calculation,’” Engoron wrote, adding yet another footnote before making his next point.
That footnote said that Trump attorney Christopher Kise later abandoned the suggestion.
“Despite this assertion in their motion papers, counsel for defendants, Christopher Kise, Esq, conceded during oral argument held on September 22, 2023, that square footage is, in fact, an objective number,” the footnote said.
Engoron flatly stated that “[g]ood-faith measurements could vary by as much as 10-20%, not 200%.”
“A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud,” he added.
The judge responded with some objectively severe consequences, before the civil case even made it to trial.
Engoron ordered Trump’s lawyers to pay sanctions of $7,500 each, found Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization liable for fraud, canceled business certificates, appointed retired Judge Barbara S. Jones as an independent monitor for the Trump Organization, and ordered the parties in the case to “recommend the names of no more than three potential independent receivers to manage the dissolution of the canceled LLCs” within 10 days.
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