AN INVESTIGATION BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS DISCLOSES NO — ZERO — PRECEDENT IN THIS STATE FOR WHAT NEW YORK’S ATTORNEY GENERAL WANTS DONE TO THE 45TH PRESIDENT.
The extraordinary nature of the New York attorney general’s attempt to take away from President Trump the company he and his family built is well marked today by the Associated Press. Its review of “nearly 150 reported cases” of business fraud in New York since 1956 found that “nearly every previous time a company was taken away, victims and losses were key factors.” Yet even absent any victims or losses, Mr. Trump’s business could be “dissolved.”
New York’s Executive Law 63(12) — that’s the one being used against Mr. Trump — requires only “repeated fraudulent or illegal acts” and not a showing of harm. Yet it appears as if that stipulation has been, as Shakespeare quipped, “more honored in the breach than the observance.” That is because the AP “found that victims and losses were factors when it came to deciding whether to take over a business.” Meaning, Mr. Trump would be an exception.
That’s something to keep in mind amid all the talk in the bien pensant salons about how no one is above the law. The question is: Why should Mr. Trump, or anyone, be below the law? We spoke to a real estate attorney, Adam Leitman Bailey. He has faced off with Mr. Trump in court — and, he tells us, bested Mr. Trump in a settlement. He calls the possibility of this punishment, though, a “travesty of justice” that “harms the fabric of our democracy.”
Mr. Leitman Bailey asserts that Executive Law 63(12) was “not made for this type of case. It is made for small-time criminals.” He surmises that Ms. James was motivated to pursue this path because she “hates Trump.” Mr. Leitman Bailey tells us that Ms. James eschewed charging Mr. Trump with a more conventional fraud statute because under 63(12) “You don’t need a victim or a showing of intent, or evidence of fraud. You just have to show up to win.”
Here, Mr. Leitman Bailey observes, “all money that was borrowed has been paid back” and “there have been no victims.” By choosing this statute, the attorney explains, Ms. James not only stacked the deck, she rigged the game. We wonder if this startling departure from precedent deters or drives the presiding judge, Arthur Engoron. He has promised a ruling by Wednesday. Mr. Trump’s antagonist, General James, seems in a hurry, too.