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Marc Kasowitz, who responded to The New York Times story about Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns, has taken on the defense of Trump University in a case before a New York appellate court.
A court officer for the state’s Court of Appeals confirmed that Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman said in a letter dated Sept. 26 that it will act as co-counsel with New York’s Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman in a case filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The court officer said the letter was signed by Kasowitz, the firm’s founder and managing partner, who confirmed Monday that he will handle oral arguments on appeal.
Kasowitz was quoted in a Times story over the weekend threatening the newspaper with “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action” if it went forward with its decision to publish information showing Trump taking a nearly $916 million loss on his taxes two decades ago.
Trump has turned to Kasowitz Benson on a number of legal issues over the past 15 years, including an ultimately unsuccessful defamation suit against a former New York Times business reporter who published a book claiming that the real estate developer-turned-Republican presidential nominee was worth millions, rather than billions. Kasowitz Benson has also handled several bankruptcy and restructuring-related matters for Trump.
Schneiderman filed his fraud case against Trump University in 2013. The former partner at K&L Gates predecessor Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham alleges that Trump University students were charged thousands of dollars for seminars that failed to give them promised access to Trump’s real estate investment expertise.
In March, New York’s Appellate Division, First Department affirmed a lower court’s refusal to dismiss Schneiderman’s claims, allowing the case to go forward. A brief by Trump University’s defense lawyers is due Oct. 21. (O’Melveny & Myers is representing Trump University in another action in California.)
On Monday, Schneiderman added another legal issue to Trump’s docket by issuing a “notice of violation” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation claiming that the New York-based nonprofit is not registered to solicit money in the state, the AG’s office announced. Schneiderman’s office sent its letter to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner Sheri Dillon, whose ties to Trump and his taxes were covered by The American Lawyer earlier this year.
As Trump prepares to defend Trump University and battles the Times over his taxes, the newspaper profiled one if his daughters, Tiffany, in another weekend story. The piece noted that like her father, Tiffany Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met Ross Mechanic, who she is dating. Mechanic is the son of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson real estate chair Jonathan Mechanic.
Trump, no stranger to legal entanglements, has had a hard time competing with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for donations from lawyers, even at firms like Greenberg Traurig where he has a high-profile supporter. But Trump has Clinton beat when it comes to his campaign’s legal bills. The Daily Beast reported Monday that Trump paid $1.1 million to Jones Day this summer, more than double what Clinton paid her campaign counsel at Perkins Coie.