Trump drops second legal challenge to New York attorney general after sanctions in Hillary Clinton case

Key Points
  • Former President Donald Trump dropped a second federal civil action against New York's attorney general, which tried to thwart her $250 million fraud lawsuit against his Manhattan real estate company.
  • Trump's latest legal capitulation came days after a Florida federal judge sanctioned him for nearly $1 million for filing what that judge called a frivolous suit against Hillary Clinton.
  • Trump is seeking the Republican Party's presidential nomination for 2024.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday voluntarily dropped a second federal civil action against New York's attorney general that had attempted to thwart her own $250 million fraud lawsuit against his Manhattan-based real estate company.

Trump's latest legal capitulation came less than a week after being slapped by a federal judge in Florida with nearly $1 million in sanctions for filing what that judge called a frivolous lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.

Lawyers for both Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James in a filing Tuesday said they jointly agreed to dismiss an appeal in Manhattan federal appeals court.

Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, had filed that appeal after a federal judge in the Northern District of New York tossed out his suit there against James.

In a statement, the attorney general said, "I am pleased that Donald Trump has withdrawn both of his pending actions against my office."

"As we have shown all along, we have a legitimate legal case against him and his organization, and we cannot be bullied or dissuaded from pursuing it," James said.

Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, said in a statement, "This appeal was voluntarily withdrawn for strategic purposes."

James in September filed her $250 million suit against Trump, the Trump Organization, and three of his adult children in connection with the use of allegedly fraudulent financial statements related to the company.

James' suit was filed in New York state court after her investigators for several years reviewed claims that the Trump Organization had improperly manipulated the stated valuations of various real estate assets for financial gain.

Trump in December 2021 sued James in federal court for the Northern District of New York, seeking to block her from continuing her investigation. That suit alleged that the attorney general had violated Trump's constitutional rights, and asked a judge to issue an injunction that would end or hobble the probe.

James' "mission is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent," Trump's lawyers wrote in that suit.

That case was dismissed by a judge at James' request in May.

Two months after James sued him in Manhattan, Trump sued James in a Florida state court in November, claiming that her probe was part of a "war of intimidation and harassment."

His second lawsuit suit, which James soon had transferred to federal court in Florida, sought to block her from obtaining records from a revocable trust he created in Florida, which has ownership of the Trump Organization.

As Trump was waging legal war against James, he also was targeting in a Florida federal court another political enemy: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he defeated in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump last year sued Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, former FBI officials and more than two dozen other defendants in that case, claiming they had tried to rig the 2016 election by pushing a "false narrative" that he had colluded with Russia.

Judge John Middlebrooks dismissed that lawsuit in September, calling it a "political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him."

Last Thursday, Middlebrooks ordered Trump and his lawyer, Habba, to pay $937,989 in sanctions for filing what the judge was a "completely frivolous, both factually and legally," suit.

Middlebrooks' order noted how Trump had engaged in "a pattern of abuse of the court," and repeatedly used courts "to seek revenge on political adversaries."

The next morning, Trump voluntarily dropped his lawsuit in Florida federal court against James, which Middlebrooks also had been handling.

Days later, Trump dropped his appeal of the dismissal of the suit against James in New York federal court for the Northern District.