$250M fraud suit against Trump could be paused during NYC criminal case: experts

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million fraud lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his company could be put on hold while the new criminal case against him plays out in Manhattan, legal experts say.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has rejected prior requests by lawyers for the 76-year-old former president to delay the Oct. 2 trial in the AG’s civil case – saying last month that the date is “written in stone.”

But legal eagles are in agreement that Trump’s attorneys would likely use the new “hush money” indictment filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office to make a motion to pause the lawsuit until the criminal case concludes.

“My sense of their strategy – and what would be to their advantage – is to try to slow the case as much as possible,” former Manhattan federal prosecutor Paul Krieger told The Post on Monday.

A stay — meaning a complete pause on the case — “would further delay the proceedings and make it more complicated for the AG’s office to push this case forward at as rapid a pace as possible,” Krieger explained.

Arguments from Trump’s team to postpone the suit could include that any testimony he gives in the civil suit could incriminate him in the criminal case – violating his Fifth Amendment rights.

Experts say the state attorney general’s fraud suit against Trump could be paused because of his criminal case.
Mikhail Palinchak / SOPA Images/

Trump could also argue that the criminal case could prejudice his right to a fair trial in the the civil case, the lawyers explained.

“The risk of prejudice – now that it is publicly known that a former president has been indicted – from seeping into the civil case would warrant the defense team seeking a stay,” said Imran Ansari, a civil lawyer who represents Harvey Weinstein in several lawsuits he faces.

The criminal and civil cases are “similar enough – although not directly connected” for the lawyers to argue for the stay, Ansari said.

James’ lawsuit alleges “staggering” fraud in the Trump Organization, claiming the former president and real estate mogul allegedly inflated company assets to get better terms on loans and on insurance.

While the charges contained in the criminal indictment won’t be revealed until Trump’s arraignment Tuesday, sources and reports say he faces dozens of counts of falsifying business records — including at least one felony — tied to “hush money” payments made in the lead up to the 2016 election.

New York Attorney General Letitia James
Letitia James sued Trump in 2022 claiming staggering fraud in his company.
Getty Images

Trump has maintained his innocence in both cases calling the prosecutions politically motivated “witch hunts.”

Although Engoron has been staunchly against any further delays in the case, “Now, circumstances have dramatically changed,” and Trump’s lawyers “may have more solid grounds,” to ask for the pause in light of the indictment, Ansari said.

“Judges don’t always stay civil cases but a judge may, in an abundance of caution, stay the civil proceeding in order for a criminal case, which is unprecedented, to play out,” Ansari added.

Former Manhattan prosecutor Michael Bachner said, “Every judge wants his calendar to move in an expeditious fashion.” But “It’s [Trump’s] 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself and not to answer questions.”

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said the trial in the lawsuit would go forward on Oct. 2 “come hell or high water.”
Gregory P. Mango

It’s “very common” for a civil case to be put on hold while a criminal case plays out, Bachner noted.

“So if the defendant made a motion to stay that proceeding, I think there is a very substantial chance that the court would stay that proceeding,” Bachner said.

Duncan Levin, who represents “Soho Grifter” Anna Sorokin in a lawsuit being handled by Engoron, said a motion for a stay would track with Trump’s legal defense tactics. But he said he doesn’t think the judge will put the case off.

“You can’t blame [Trump’s team] for trying and the legal defense has largely been to delay, delay, delay,” Levin said. But, “They have clearly run out of time and have tested the court’s patience.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James
James also filed an earlier lawsuit against the Trump camp claiming they were stonewalling her 2019 probe.

James launched her investigation in 2019 and filed a prior lawsuit a year later against Trump’s camp claiming they were stonewalling the probe. She then sued Trump and his business last year in a sweeping 220-page fraud lawsuit. Engoron has overseen both cases for the past three years.

Levin said Engoron “is a no-nonsense” but “fair” judge and he “does not tolerate needless and unwarranted delays.”

One reason Levin doesn’t think a request for a stay will be successful is because the civil and the criminal cases are not directly related.

“One has nothing to do with the other,” Levin said. “The subject matter is different and the players are largely different – this civil case is going forward.”

Levin said other pending investigations against Trump – including the Georgia grand jury that is weighing a possible indictment against him for election interference and a federal probe of classified documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago – won’t be delayed by the Manhattan criminal indictment.

In fact, the opposite could be happen and the new criminal case could potentially speed up the other probes, Levin said.

“Once the flood gate is open from one [case], it may make it somewhat easier for more charges to be brought and for other prosecutors to bring charges,” Levin said.

But “everybody is going to march to the beat of their own drummer,” the lawyer said.

Judges will be sure to avoid overlapping court dates, Levin said, noting, “One is not going to cause the delay of the other.”

Christopher Kise, a civil lawyer for Trump, said whether the legal team will seek a stay, “would depend, at least in part, on what is in the indictment.”

The AG’s office declined to comment Monday.