Judge rejects Trump bid to delay New York fraud trial

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A New York state judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s bid to delay a scheduled Oct. 2 trial in state Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud lawsuit accusing him, family members and his business of overvaluing assets by billions of dollars.

Trump and the other defendants had said the trial should be “briefly” delayed until three weeks after Justice Arthur Engoron ruled on both sides’ requests for summary judgments, which seek victory on various legal issues without the need for a trial.

In a Tuesday night court filing, Trump accused James of “callous disregard” of a June 27 appeals court decision that prevented her from suing over loans that took place too long ago, “substantially” limiting the claims remaining for trial.

But in a one-sentence order, Engoron called Trump’s arguments for a delay “completely without merit.”

The judge had earlier this year said the Oct. 2 trial date would not change “come hell or high water.”

Lawyers for Trump and the other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. James’ office had no immediate comment.

Separately, the defendants on Tuesday demanded that James withdraw what they called her “frivolous” motion to sanction them and their lawyers $20,000 for rehashing what she called their “frivolous” legal arguments on multiple issues.

On Wednesday, James refused the demand, saying that just because there was now a more “complete record” did not make legal arguments that courts have repeatedly rejected any better.

James is suing Trump, his sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, and others for allegedly inflating asset values in a decade of annual financial statements to obtain better terms on loans and insurance.

The attorney general said the fraud enabled Trump to inflate his net worth by as much as $2.23 billion, and that he should be found liable for fraud even before a trial began.

James is seeking at least $250 million, and to bar Trump and his sons from leading their family business.

The defendants have denied wrongdoing, and Trump has called James’ case part of a partisan “witch hunt.”

In another legal development on Wednesday, a federal judge found Trump liable for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll by denying in 2019 that he had raped her, and said jurors will decide only how much Trump owes in damages.

Trump has separately pleaded not guilty to charges in four separate federal and state criminal indictments, including two indictments for attempting to reverse his 2020 election loss.

Despite his legal problems, Trump has a dominating lead for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Daniel Wallis)