A New York judge has dealt a major blow to former President Donald Trump’s business empire, potentially triggering what some are calling the “corporate death sentence.”
Judge Arthur Engoron on Tuesday found Trump liable for fraud while partially granting New York Attorney General Letitia James’ motion for summary judgment in her $250 million lawsuit against the former president. Trump’s request for summary dismissal was denied, while members of his legal team were hit with sanctions.
Engoron also ordered the cancellation of business licenses for the Trump Organization and several other New York entities associated with the ex-president, crippling or ending their ability to operate in the state. The judge then ordered that the parties recommend independent receivers to oversee the dissolution of the companies.
The dissolution order has been called a “death sentence for corporations” by several legal experts on social media, including a former federal prosecutor. Joyce Vanceformer special advisor to the Ministry of Defense Ryan Goodman and former Trump impeachment lawyer Norm Eisen.
The language of Engoron’s ruling is somewhat ambiguous because it does not explicitly order the dissolution of Trump’s companies, but rather calls for the appointment of receivers who would oversee any dissolution.
“On its face, the obvious meaning of the findings at the end of this 35-page order by Judge Engoron is that he appears to order the dissolution of the Trump Organization,” former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said during an appearance next on MSNBC. after the judgment is pronounced.
Besides Trump and his companies, Tuesday’s ruling also applies to the former president’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as former Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.
Engoron further ruled that retired Judge Barbara Jones would oversee the Trump Organization’s finances, pending further decisions.
The judge did not rule on all aspects of James’ lawsuit, which accuses the former president and his co-defendants of making false statements about business assets to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits. The trial is scheduled to begin October 2, although Trump’s lawyers have requested a delay.
News week On Tuesday, he contacted the Trump Organization by email for comment.
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, vowed that the former president would appeal what she called a “misguided” decision in an emailed statement to News week Tuesday evening.
“Today’s decision is fundamentally wrong on every level,” Habba said. “It is important to remember that the Trump Organization is an American success story. The fact that this Court summarily concluded that there was no doubt about the facts, concluding in part that Mar-a-Lago was worth approximately $20 million dollars and rendering a decision of this magnitude is an affront to our legal system.”
“We intend to immediately appeal this decision because President Trump and his family, like every American business owner, are entitled to their trial,” she added.
If Trump’s companies were forced to dissolve, the ex-president’s business empire would not necessarily cease to exist entirely. Engoron’s rulings only apply to Trump-appointed companies in New York, leaving room for the possibility that affected companies’ operations could be moved to other states.