Trump hid 'fraud' on inheritance for years, niece tells judge

Erik Larson
Bloomberg News

Donald Trump’s niece is balking at the former president’s claim that she waited too long to file her multimillion-dollar fraud suit against him, saying she would have sued sooner if he hadn’t covered his tracks so well.

Mary Trump on Friday asked a judge to deny Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit, which she filed in September against her uncle and his siblings, Robert Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry. She claims they conspired to skim tens of millions of dollars off her stake in the family business for decades after her father died and left them as her fiduciaries.

Mary L. Trump.

The suit by the daughter of Donald Trump’s late older brother, Fred Trump Jr., is one of several serious legal threats the former president faces as a private citizen. If the case in New York state court in Manhattan survives, he could be deposed under oath by the end of the year or early 2022.

The fight may hinge on New York’s statute of limitations, which is two years from the time a victim “discovered the fraud, or could with reasonable diligence have discovered it.” Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump and the estate of Robert Trump, who died in August, argue their niece could have sued much earlier based on documents they handed over in other legal disputes, including a bitter court fight over the family patriarch’s 1999 will.

But Mary Trump, a psychologist and author who wrote a damning tell-all book about the family last year, argues she didn’t discover the alleged decades-old scheme until October 2018, when the New York Times published a Pulitzer Prize-winning report on Donald Trump’s finances. The documents handed over to Mary Trump in earlier legal matters were either unrelated to the alleged fraud or contained false information that couldn’t have tipped her off, she said

The Trump siblings “cannot avoid accountability for their fraud simply because they thought that they had gotten away with it years ago,” Mary Trump’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said in Friday’s filing.

James Kiley, who represents Donald Trump and the estate of Robert Trump, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Maryanne Trump Barry’s lawyer, Gary Freidman, declined to comment.

A portrait of President Donald Trump's father Fred Trump, is seen Feb.9 , 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

Mary Trump argues her uncles and aunt shouldn’t benefit in court just because they successfully duped her for years.

“The offensiveness of defendants’ past conduct — stealing tens of millions of dollars from their own niece — is perhaps surpassed only by the chutzpah of their current arguments for dismissal,” Mary Trump said.

The fraud was only uncovered because three investigative reporters at the New York Times had “access and information that Mary did not and never could have had,” including “tens of thousands of pages of confidential records” and invoices, as well as interviews with Fred Trump’s former employees and advisers, according to Mary Trump’s brief.