Trump and sons rage after judge delivers "the corporate death penalty for the Trump Organization"

The judge already smacked down and refuted much of the claims the Trumps argued on social media

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published September 27, 2023 1:09PM (EDT)

Donald Trump Jr., son of the former US President Donald Trump, delivers remarks at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland, United States on March 3, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Donald Trump Jr., son of the former US President Donald Trump, delivers remarks at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland, United States on March 3, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump and his sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., erupted on social media in response to a New York Judge's ruling Tuesday that the elder Trump committed fraud for years as he built his real estate empire, dubbing the ruling "politically motivated" and attacking the judge and the state's attorney general across a number of posts.

In the Tuesday afternoon decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found that Trump and his company deceived insurers, bankers and other entities by heavily exaggerating his assets and his net worth in paperwork used when making business deals and securing financing. He also found that Trump, his company and its executives had repeatedly lied about his wealth on his annual financial statements in order to take advantage of favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums. The judge ruled that those actions violated the law and, thus, canceled the certificates of 10 of Donald Trump's key New York businesses, including the Trump Organization, as well as any other New York entities "controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Jeffrey McConney." Engoron ordered the parties to identify three independent receivers within a 10-day period to manage the entities' dissolution.

"It's essentially the equivalent of the corporate death penalty for the Trump Organization in New York state," conservative attorney George Conway said on CNN on Tuesday night.

In a lengthy statement to Truth Social (compiled from previous posts on the platform shortly after the decision), the former president took aim at New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the civil lawsuit, while defending his actions.

"I have been unfairly sued by the Trump Hating Democrat Attorney General of New York State, Letitia James, over the false fact that I inflated my Financial Statements in order to borrow money from Banks, etc. The Judge in this case, Arthur F. Engoron, refused to allow this case to go to the 'Commercial Division,' where it belongs because he is a Trump Hater beyond even A.G. James, who campaigned against me spewing horrible inflammatory statements which are False & Defamatory," Donald Trump began, then lamented the non-jury status of the case.

Trump went on to list what he deemed the facts of the case: that he is worth more than his valuation on his financial statements; he excluded his "MOST VALUABLE ASSET," his brand, from those statements; there were no victims in the case; the financial statements include a "STRONG 'DISCLAIMER CLAUSE'" advising reviewers against trusting the values and to do their own research; and that his company has millions in cash with very little debt.

"It is a great company that has been slandered and maligned by this politically motivated Witch Hunt. It is very unfair, and I call for help from the highest Courts in New York State, or the Federal System to intercede," he concluded. "THIS IS NOT AMERICA!"

Donald Trump echoed those sentiments in another post to the conservative platform Wednesday morning, leveling more insults at James and Engoron.

"I have a Deranged, Trump Hating Judge, who RAILROADED this FAKE CASE through a NYS Court at a speed never seen before, refusing to let it go to the Commercial Division, where it belongs, denying me everything, No Trial, No Jury. He made up this crazy 'KILL TRUMP' decision, assigning insanely low values to properties, despite overwhelming evidence. AS AN EXAMPLE, HE VALUES THE MOST SPECTACULAR PROPERTY IN PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, MAR-A-LAGO, AT $18,000,000, WHEN IT IS WORTH POSSIBLY 100 TIMES THAT AMOUNT," he began.

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"His anger & hatred is politically motivated & unprecedented by those who watched! My actual Net Worth is MUCH GREATER than the number shown on the Financial Statements, a BIG SURPRISE to him & the Racist A.G., Letitia James, who campaigned for office on a get Trump Platform," he continued. "While murderers roam the sidewalks of New York, my banks are happy, all loans are current, or paid off in full, sometimes early, with no defaults or problems of any kind. There is also an IRONCLAD DISCLAIMER CLAUSE!"

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump had also released statements across several social media posts decrying the judge's ruling and accusing Engoron and James of weaponizing the government against their father and the family.

"Today, I lost all faith in the New York legal system. Never before have I seen such hatred toward one person by a judge - a coordinated effort with the Attorney General to destroy a man's life, company and accomplishments," Eric Trump wrote in the first of a handful of posts to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "We have run an exceptional company - never missing a loan payment, making banks hundreds of millions of dollars, developing some of the most iconic assets in the world. Yet today, the persecution of our family continues…"

He then accused Engoron of attempting to "to destroy my father and kick him out of New York," lambasting the $18 million valuation of Mar-a-Lago that Engoron cited as the low-end of the Palm Beach County Assessor's appraisal of the property from 2011 to 2021 and calling the case "so corrupt and coordinated." 

Eric Trump went on to compare values of homes on smaller stretches of land in Palm Beach despite Mar-a-Lago, as Engoron noted in the filing, not being legally classified as a residence but a private social club with restrictions on its use and modifications. He also posted a video with spliced clips of James' attorney general campaign speeches, in which she vowed to follow Trump's money and sue him and asserted that she'd never be afraid to challenge him, statements Politifact clarified last year were taken out of context in the video. 

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"While everyone can see that this case is egregious, the only thing worse than weaponizing the legal system against a political opponent is unfairly going after their family. Both the Attorney General and the Judge know I had absolutely NOTHING to do with this case. Every single person has testified that my job has always been acquiring, developing and managing properties, not back office functions," he said.

"The only reason I am collateral damage is because my last name is Trump and I am unwavering in the support of my father, his accomplishments and what he has done for our country, a nation which is now rapidly in decline," he concluded.

"Anyone with even a basic understanding of the law should read the ruling and see for themselves how nonsensical and asinine the whole thing is," Donald Trump Jr. tweeted shortly after Eric Trump began his rant in response to the decision. "This is weaponized Blue State Marxist America, & another example of the sheer impossibility of a fairness & impartiality in these areas."

He, too, disputed the low-end valuation of Mar-a-Lago cited in the ruling, arguing that "legal system has been commandeered by radicals hell bent on destroying America" and even joking that if property is worth $18 million, he wants 10 of them. 

"If my father tried claiming the property was worth $18 million, he would probably then get charged with trying to underpay his real estate taxes!" Donald Trump Jr. added. "They've set the game up so it's always lose/lose in these blue states. If you don't abide by their narrative they will target you."

Engoron's decision, however, addressed many of the former president and his sons' claims, some of which resembled previously rejected arguments brought by the defendants' legal teams to the judge. 

He noted that the defense's assertion that the record lacked any evidence of default, breach or complaint of harm from the victims, while correct, was "completely irrelevant" to the case, citing the precedent set by People v. Ernst & Young. He also declared that the disclaimer written on the statements of financial condition by non-party accountants Mazars "put the onus for accuracy squarely on defendants' shoulders."

"As the SCFs did not particularize the type of fact misrepresented or undisclosed and were unquestionably based on information peculiarly within defendants' knowledge, defendants may not rely on such purported disclaimers as a defense," Engoron wrote in the filing. 

He further elaborated that the disclaimer, referred to as the "worthless clause," does not only fail to "rise to the level of an enforceable disclaimer" but does not say what the defense argued it did and can not be used to insulate fraud.  

As for the value of Mar-a-Lago, Engoron cited the Palm Beach County Assessor's appraisal of the property's market value from 2011 to 2021, which valued the club between $18 million and $27.6 million. He dismissed the expert affidavit the defense submitted to support their valuation of the club as "inadmissible because it is conclusory" and its views "apparently based to a great extent on hearsay statements from unspecified witnesses as well as upon speculations on the part of the expert."

He also broke down Donald Trump's efforts to classify Mar-a-Lago as a social club in the 90s, which saw the former president signing a 1995 deed relinquishing his right to use the property as anything other than a club and a 2002 "Deed of Development" forever extinguishing his right to develop Mar-a-Lago and limiting changes to it, including division or subdivision for any purpose like use as single-family homes.

"Exacerbating defendants' obstreperous conduct is their continued reliance on bogus arguments in papers and oral argument," Engoron wrote in the filing. "In defendants' world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party's lies; the Attorney General of the State of New York does not have capacity to sue or standing to sue (never mind all those cases where the Attorney General has sued successfully) under a statue expressly designed to provide that right; all illegal acts are untimely if they stem from one untimely act; and square footage subjective."

"That is a fantasy world, not the real world," he added.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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