NEW YORK: A judge on Tues­day rejected former US President Donald Trump’s bid to delay the scheduled Oct. 2 trial in state Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud lawsuit, calling the date “written in stone.” Justice Arthur Engoron in Supr­e­­me Co­­u­­rt in Manhattan agreed to req­uests by Trump and other def­endants to push back some deadlines for gathering evidence.

“You can move anything else in between,” the judge told lawyers at a two-hour hearing, which was delayed by a bomb scare. “I don’t want to move that trial date.”

The schedule means the former president could face trial in James’ case just two blocks from the Manhattan criminal court building where he is expecting to be indicted for covering up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Both cases come during Trump’s third White House run, in which he is a leading Republican candidate.

James sued Trump, three of his adult children, the Trump Org­­anisation and others last September over an alleged decade-long scheme to manipulate more than 200 asset valuations and Trump’s net worth, to win better terms from banks and insurers.

The attorney general has long accused Trump of stalling to delay her case.

On Monday, she accused the Trump Organisation’s accounting firm of failing to produce documents she subpoenaed and improperly asserting privilege.

Trump has called James’ case a partisan witch hunt.

He had originally sought a delay that would have likely pushed any trial to the spring of 2024, when the race to become the Republican presidential nominee might be sewn up.

James countered that her offi­­ce had already turned over “en­­ormous” quantities of evidence to the defendants, enough to prevent any trial from “be­­co­m­­ing a game of surprise.” Engo­ron also said many disputes are easy to resolve, including whether Trump overstated the value of his Trump Tower penthouse apartment by inflating its size.

“A triplex apartment is worth less money if is 11,000 square feet than if it is 30,000 square feet,” he said. “You do not need to be an expert … to know these things. You don’t even need a high school diploma.” Among the other defendants are Trump’s adult children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and the jailed former Trump Organisation chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023

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