To whomever measured the square footage of Donald Trump’s New York City properties: You’re fired!
The 222-page fraud lawsuit filed Wednesday against former President Donald Trump by New York Attorney General Leticia James names several Trump properties – including Mar-a-Lago, golf course facilities, and yes, the buildings where celebrity contestants gathered weekly to learn their fates on “The Apprentice” – saying their values were artificially inflated to secure loans, insurance and other assets.
James filed the $250 million lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court after years of teasing legal action against the Trump family – a pillar of the Democrat’s 2018 campaign. The suit is a civil filing that does not seek criminal punishments; instead, it aims to levy massive fines and bar Trump and his associates from doing real estate business for a (heavily supervised) period of five years.
James did, however, say her office will refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal consideration.
The lawsuit names around a dozen Trump properties it claims reported inflated valuations, square footage and other exaggerated numbers to fraudulently enrich Trump’s family and businesses – Trump tower perhaps the most famous among them.
Anyone who watched “The Apprentice,” a huge hit at the height of reality TV from 2004 until Trump himself was fired by the network in 2015, will recognize the Manhattan tower and separate apartment triplex where Trump filmed the NBC show – the grand lobby, the big oak doors, the oppressive boardroom, the anteroom where the rollaway suitcases were stashed – it’s all in there.
As an example, the lawsuit states that from 2012 to 2016, Trump stated that the three-floor apartment complex was 30,000 square feet – when in reality, it was 10,996 square feet. Based on that, James’ lawsuit says, the stated value of the complex increased four-fold during that time, from $80 million to $327 million.
“That wildly overstated size was then multiplied by an unreasonable price per square foot,” the document reads. “Tripling the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate fraud, not an honest mistake.”
James’ lawsuit says Trump lived in the building for more than two decades, “using it for interviews, photo spreads, as a filming location for ‘The Apprentice,’ and even to host foreign heads of state.”
As for Trump, the filing inspired a series of posts on his own Truth Social, mostly attacking James.
“Attorney General Letitia “Peekaboo” James, a total crime fighting disaster in New York, is spending all of her time fighting for very powerful and well represented banks and insurance companies, who were fully paid, made a lot of money, and never had a complaint about me, instead of fighting murder and violent crime, which is killing New York State,” he wrote. “She is a failed A.G. whose lack of talent in the fight against crime is causing record numbers of people and companies to flee New York. Bye, bye!”