It’s an understatement that politicians don’t always suffer consequences when they contradict themselves. But a letter this week from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office in her civil fraud probe reminds us that legal proceedings can be different.
Specifically, the AG’s office has signaled that it wants sanctions against the Trump team, saying the defendants have falsely denied facts they’ve admitted in other proceedings, denied knowing things they actually know, and have mounted frivolous defenses. (You may be wondering, “Wasn’t Donald Trump just sanctioned or something?” That’s a different case, not to be confused with his other civil cases and criminal probes.)
Among the instances cited in the letter is what the AG’s office calls an “obvious example” of a demonstrably false denial, when Trump’s team objected to an assertion that he was the inactive president of the Trump Organization while serving as president of the United States. Amazingly, James’ office points out that the government’s simple factual statement was taken directly from Trump’s sworn testimony in another case, even using “Mr. Trump’s own phrasing.”
While that may seem like a small example, it’s a reminder that any of Trump’s falsehoods about matters large and small can be used against him in legal actions, even if they haven’t gained traction against him in the political sphere. We’ll be watching to see what the state judge in the case, Arthur Engoron, does as far as sanctions ahead of trial later this year.
A final note on the letter: Scheduling matters aren’t generally interesting, but I thought it’s worth pointing out that James’ office doesn’t want the Trump team to use litigation over sanctions or related issues to further delay the case. Rather, the letter asks the judge to expedite the matter, “to ensure that the pleading deficiencies do not delay the course of discovery and preparation for trial.”