By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York judge on Tuesday rejected former U.S. President Donald Trump’s bid to delay the scheduled Oct. 2 trial in state Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud lawsuit, calling the date “written in stone.”
Justice Arthur Engoron in Supreme Court in Manhattan agreed to requests by Trump and other defendants to push back some deadlines for gathering evidence.
“You can move anything else in between,” the judge told lawyers at a two-hour hearing, which was delayed by a bomb scare. “I don’t want to move that trial date.”
The schedule means the former president could face trial in James’ case just two blocks from the Manhattan criminal court building where he is expecting to be indicted for covering up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Both cases come during Trump’s third White House run, in which he is a leading Republican candidate.
James sued Trump, three of his adult children, the Trump Organization and others last September over an alleged decade-long scheme to manipulate more than 200 asset valuations and Trump’s net worth, to win better terms from banks and insurers.
The attorney general has long accused Trump of stalling to delay her case.
On Monday, she accused the Trump Organization’s accounting firm of failing to produce documents she subpoenaed and improperly asserting privilege.
Trump has called James’ case a partisan witch hunt.
He had originally sought a delay that would have likely pushed any trial to the spring of 2024, when the race to become the Republican presidential nominee might be sewn up.
James countered that her office had already turned over “enormous” quantities of evidence to the defendants, enough to prevent any trial from “becoming a game of surprise.”
Engoron also said many disputes are easy to resolve, including whether Trump overstated the value of his Trump Tower penthouse apartment by inflating its size.
A triplex apartment is worth less money if it is 11,000 square feet versus 30,000 square feet, he said. “You do not need to be an expert … to know these things. You don’t even need a high school diploma.”
Among the other defendants are Trump’s adult children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and the jailed former Trump Organization chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
Christopher Kise, a lawyer for Trump, said the defendants’ confidence is growing as they learn more about James’ case.
“Once everybody knows exactly what happened, then they’re going to see that President Trump has done absolutely nothing wrong,” he said.
Asked later by a Reuters reporter about the trial date being set in stone, Kise said: “For now, it is.”
(This story has been refiled to fix typographical error in paragraph 13)
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing by Jonathan Oatis)