Judge rules for Trump Organization in NYC golf course fight
Former President Donald Trump’s company can keep running a public golf course in the Bronx, a judge ruled Friday, saying New York City offered a baseless rationale for canceling the Trump Organization’s contract after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year.
The ruling sends the matter back to the city “for further proceedings.” It wasn’t immediately clear what those might be. The city Law Department said it was disappointed in the decision and was reviewing legal options.
The Trump Organization declared the decision a victory for the company and “a win for justice.”
The city’s move to cancel the contract to operate the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point Park was “nothing more than a political vendetta,” the company said in a statement.
Days after Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was scrapping the golf course contract. De Blasio said Trump incited the insurrection by whipping up the rioters.
Trump has denied that he bears any responsibility for the violence on Jan. 6. Instead, he has said that the 2020 election drove his supporters to action and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others failed to provide adequate security.
Around the same time, the PGA of America cancelled an upcoming tournament at one of Trump’s golf clubs in New Jersey. De Blasio seized upon that decision as evidence that Trump had breached what the city characterized as a contract requirement to maintain a course that could attract professional tournaments.
De Blasio and Biden are Democrats. Trump is a Republican, and his company’s statement Friday accused de Blasio of using city agencies “to advance his own partisan agenda, score political points among his minions and interfere with free enterprise.”
Many lawyers and contract experts were doubtful from the start that the city would prevail.
The contract terms never stated specifically that Trump is required to attract tournaments, obliging him only to maintain a course that is “first-class, tournament quality.”
Manhattan state court Judge Debra James agreed that nothing in the contract required Trump’s company to attract professional tournaments to the Bronx course. The city’s claim that the Trump Organization breached the contract “lacks any legal foundation,” James wrote.
The city Law Department said it was disappointed in the ruling.
“Anyone holding a city concession is held to a high standard,” the agency said.
The contract allowed for the city to cancel without citing a cause. But the city would then be obligated to compensate the Trump Organization for building a clubhouse on the course.
The decision is another sign that the Trump Organization is recovering from the business backlash following the Capitol riots.
Several banks refused to do business with the Trump Organization after the riots, raising the specter the company wouldn’t be able to borrow again. But the company recently got a new $100 million loan for commercial and retail space it owns in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
Trump’s company also recently struck a deal to sell its money-losing Washington D.C. hotel to a Miami-based investment fund for $375 million, much more than many hotel experts thought possible.
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