Since the attorney general of New York’s announcement of a civil lawsuit against the former president and his three adult children for “staggering” fraud in their family’s real estate business dealings last month, only two defendants named in the case haven’t been served: former President Trump and his son, Eric Trump.
In the lawsuit — the culmination of a three-year-long probe into the finances of the ex-president’s family business, the Trump Organization — the former president stands accused of having “falsely inflated his wealth by billions of dollars” to enrich himself and deceive lenders for better loans and tax authorities for lesser tax liabilities.
In a court filing Friday, James’ office announced that nearly all 16 defendants named in the high-profile civil suit had formally accepted service of the 222-page complaint as of Friday the 7th of October, 2022, excluding Trump and his second son Eric, who assumed control of the family business alongside first son Donald Trump Jr. after his father’s 2016 ascent to the White House.
“The fact that formal service is only being completed now is because of gamesmanship by defendants and not any lack of diligent efforts by Plaintiff,” James’ office declared in the footnote of a late-September court filing, assailing the unserved defendants for dodging the process servers.
“[The attorney general’s office] emailed counsel who had been representing the Moving Defendants in the Special Proceeding the morning of September 21, 2022, minutes after the summons and verified complaint were filed, to ask if they each would accept service on behalf of their clients by email,” the footnote added, referring to Trump attorney Alina Habba.
However, the footnote added, “Ms. Habba never replied,” and “outside counsel who represented the Trump Organization for the entirety of the Special Proceeding responded that he had ‘not been retained to defend any of the defendants’ identified in the caption of [NY attorney general James’] lawsuit.”
James’ office, the footnote read, emailed the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer to ask “if he would accept on behalf of the corporate entities and any executives,” including Trump. The officer promised to respond at a later date but never did.
The lawsuit asked the New York Supreme Court to prohibit the Trumps — the beleaguered ex-president, his daughter Ivanka Trump, Trump Jr., and Eric — from serving as executives in the state; impose a 5-year ban on their abilities to acquire real estate or receive loans from finance entities based in New York; and recover $250 million in gains the organization allegedly derived through deceptive practices.
"Mr. Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal, but today, that conduct ends," James said. "There aren't two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans."
James also noted that although the state’s accusations and demands rest in a civil suit, her office had forwarded its allegations of federal criminal violations to federal authorities, Manhattan U.S Attorney's Office and the IRS, for possible criminal investigations.
The former first family have denied all allegations of wrongdoing, with Trump himself leveling personal attacks at James — calling her “racist” and “grossly incompetent” — for the civil suit, which he has repeatedly labeled a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Habba, who was mentioned in the late-September filing, derided the lawsuit shortly after its announcement as an effort “solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”
Three former assistant attorneys general predicted to Business Insiderthat Trump and his family would do all they can to delay the case — “for years, if possible.” The publication noted that the former president had stymied the investigation preceding the lawsuit for about two years through a slate of motions and appeals.
Trump’s legal team has also sought to delay the classified documents case, which concerns the ex-president’s post-tenure pillaging of thousand of government documents, some of which are highly classified.
Neither Habba nor two attorneys for Eric Trump responded to the Insider’s request for comments.