Judge rules for Trump Organization in NYC golf course fight

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 to run the course 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; a request for comment was sent to city officials.

The Trump Organization declared the decision a victory for the company and “a win for justice” and New Yorkers.

The city’s move to cancel the contract to run the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point Park was “nothing more than a political vendetta,” the company said in a statement.

After Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s presidential victory on Jan. 6, 2021, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was scrapping the golf course contract, saying Trump had engaged in “criminal activity” by whipping up the rioters.

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.

Trump is a Republican. De Blasio and Biden are Democrats.

The president’s son Eric Trump lashed out at the city’s decision at the time, calling it an example of “cancel culture” and saying the city would have to pay his family firm $30 million to make it go away.

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, only obliging him 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 therefore had breached the contract “lacks any legal foundation,” James wrote.

The city could have gone about canceling the contract in another way, since it allows the city to terminate the deal without cause. But the city would be obligated to compensate his company for money it invested in 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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