Donald Trump, facing allegations of orchestrating a years-long fraud, launched an attack on the judge and New York prosecutors. This development unfolded as state prosecutors accused the former president of inflating his wealth by up to $2.2 billion through the scam.
Trump made his appearance at a New York court, a short distance from Trump Tower, marking the start of a fraud trial that carries the potential for significant financial penalties for him and his family business. The trial has already cast a shadow over his business career in the city where it all began.
New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, has accused Trump of employing false and misleading financial statements from 2011 to 2021 to enhance his personal and business wealth. These statements allegedly helped him secure deals and financing. Based on a three-year investigation, James contends that Trump owes at least $250 million for committing fraud.
Media crews and reporters gathered outside the courthouse, awaiting Trump’s arrival.
As he headed into court, Trump exclaimed, “This is a continuation of the single greatest witch-hunt of all time.” He defended his financial statements as “phenomenal,” called James, who is Black, a “racist” and a “horror show,” and characterized the case as overseen by a “rogue judge.”
Outside the court, James delivered a clear message: “No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law.”
Trump’s Properties and Assets
During the three-year investigation, investigators discovered that Trump had inflated the value of 23 properties and assets by hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. Trump allegedly used these inflated financial statements to secure favorable loans and artificially inflate his net worth.
The trial is a bench trial, meaning there won’t be a jury. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron will be the sole decision-maker. Since this is a civil trial, the court cannot impose imprisonment on Trump if they find him guilty, and he will not have an obligation to make a court appearance.
Engoron emphasized his knowledge of the legal definition of fraud in his opening remarks. He outlined the elements of fraud, including knowledge of the falsehood and the intent behind the lies.
State prosecutor Kevin Wallace outlined the government’s case against Trump, arguing that Trump and the other defendants violated the law by presenting false statements as true.
Defense attorneys Christopher Kise and Alina Habba, speaking for the Trumps, praised Trump’s business success and asserted that there were no unjust profits or victims.
The trial has not been favorable to the Trump camp so far. Last week, Engoron found Trump guilty of fraud, citing evidence of persistent use of faulty financial statements. He noted that Trump operated within a “fantasy world, not a real world.”
Engoron’s ruling imposed a severe penalty on Trump and his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, by canceling their business certificates, making it exceedingly difficult for them to continue operating in New York.
A significant fine may further worsen their situation. The attorney general’s office aims to demonstrate that the Trump family should disgorge the profits earned from their fraudulent financial statements. James’s office contends that Trump received loans using these statements to purchase properties, and any profits made from those deals were based on lies.
While Trump and three of his children are on the witness list, it remains uncertain if they will be called to testify. Even if summoned, they can choose not to appear, though such a decision may influence the judge’s ruling.
They have scheduled the trial to continue until December 22, but it is anticipated to conclude sooner now that we have resolved the question of whether Trump committed fraud. The focus now shifts to determining the extent of the financial consequences he will face.