Court appoints outside monitor to oversee Trump's business during New York attorney general lawsuit

Trump Tower
(Image credit: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress)

A judge in Manhattan on Thursday approved New York Attorney General Leticia James' request for an independent monitor to oversee former President Donald Trump's family business during the year or so it will take for the attorney general's massive civil fraud cases against the Trump Organization to go to trial. James filed her lawsuit in September, after a three-year investigation, seeking $250 million and a ban on Trump or his children doing business in the state.

The judge, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, said the Trump Organization's "demonstrated propensity to engage in persistent fraud" means an outside monitor "is the most prudent and narrowly tailored mechanism to ensure there is no further fraud or illegality." Engoron said James had submitted "more than sufficient" evidence to indicate she will prevail in her lawsuit.

Engoron barred the Trump Organization from "selling, transferring, or otherwise disposing of any non-cash asset" listed on its most recent annual financial statement without first giving the court and James' office 14 days notice. Trump's company also can't restructure, refinance, or sell any "significant Trump Organization assets" without a 30-days heads-up.

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The monitor, to be paid by the Trump Organization, will ensure compliance with those restrictions and report any violations to the attorney general's office and the court. Trump's business will also have to provide the monitor with full and accurate financial statements, asset valuations, and lists of assets and company structure.

Trump railed against James and her "puppet judge" on social media Thursday, calling the court's appointment of an independent monitor "Communism." A different set of Trump lawyers filed a lawsuit against James in Florida on Thursday, seeking to halt the New York case and accusing the New York attorney general of violating his rights in Florida tied to his Trump Revocable Trust, which controls much of his business.

Trump's Florida lawsuit against James was "hotly opposed by several of his longstanding legal advisers," who warned it "was frivolous and would fail," The New York Times reports. But "the Florida lawsuit is an expression of frustration" from Trump, who is "livid" about James' lawsuit and "equally angry" about a parallel felony fraud case brought by the Manhattan district attorney.

"Multiple judges have dismissed Donald Trump's baseless attempts to evade justice, and no number of lawsuits will deter us from pursuing this fraud," a James spokeswoman said Thursday. "We sued Donald Trump because he committed extensive financial fraud," and "that fact hasn't changed."

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