Trump drops appeal, ending legal fight over New York probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has abandoned efforts to revive his federal lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James — the second time he’s halted legal action against her after a judge last week fined him and his lawyers nearly $1 million for filing frivolous cases.

Trump’s lawyers and James’ office agreed Tuesday to a stipulation ending an appeal that had sought to reverse a judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit. Trump, a Republican, sued James, a Democrat, in December 2021 in an attempt to block her from investigating him and his businesses.

Trump sued James again in the wake of her September lawsuit alleging that he and his company, the Trump Organization, misled banks and others about the value of his assets, including golf courses and hotels bearing his name, in a practice she dubbed “The art of the steal"— a twist on the title of his book “The Art of the Deal.”

Trump dropped that lawsuit last week after a federal judge in Florida, Donald M. Middlebrooks, accused him of a “pattern of abuse of the courts” for filing frivolous lawsuits for political purposes, including what he said was a bogus lawsuit against Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton and others.

James’ case against Trump is pending. She wants a judge to fine Trump $250 million and permanently ban him from doing business in the state. The trial is scheduled for October.

“I am pleased that Donald Trump has withdrawn both of his pending actions against my office,” James said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said the appeal “was voluntarily withdrawn for strategic purposes.”

U.S. District Judge Brenda Sannes threw out Trump’s original lawsuit against the New York attorney general in May 2022, allowing her civil investigation to proceed. Sannes wrote at the time that case law bars federal judges from interfering in state-level investigations and that there was no evidence to support his contention that James targeted him out of political animus.

Trump’s since-withdrawn second lawsuit, filed in November, sought to prevent James from having any oversight over the family trust that controls his company. Trump initially filed that case in state court in Florida, but it was later moved to federal court.

Trump’s Florida complaint rehashed some claims from his dismissed federal lawsuit against her, irritating Middlebrooks, who wrote in a December order: “This litigation has all the telltale signs of being both vexatious and frivolous.”

This week has been rife with Trump-related legal developments.

On Monday, court officials say, the Trump Organization paid a $1.6 million penalty levied as part of its tax fraud conviction last month in Manhattan for helping executives dodge personal income taxes on lavish job perks.

On Tuesday, a judge in Georgia heard arguments as he weighs the public release of a special grand jury’s final report on its investigation into possible illegal interference in the 2020 presidential election by Trump and his allies. He said he would keep the report private for now.