New York, Oct 2 (The Street Press) – Donald Trump, showing strong resistance, criticized New York’s attorney general and the judge in his civil fraud trial, which started on Monday. A state lawyer accused the former president of making over $100 million by dishonestly representing his real estate business.
Attorney General Letitia James aims to secure a minimum of $250 million in penalties. She also seeks a permanent ban on Trump, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric from operating businesses in New York, and a five-year prohibition on commercial real estate activities for Trump and the Trump Organization.
In the Manhattan courtroom, testimony commenced after the opening statements. The first witness for the state was Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA and a long-term accountant for Trump’s businesses.
Before the trial started, Trump spoke to reporters, labeling the case as a “scam” and a “sham,” and alleging it to be a political vendetta by James. During a lunch break, he referred to the Democrat as “corrupt” and “terrible,” accusing her of driving people out of New York.
Trump did not hold back criticism for Judge Arthur Engoron, describing him as a partisan Democrat who, in Trump’s opinion, is using the case to meddle with the 2024 presidential election, where Trump has a substantial lead for the Republican nomination.
Trump told reporters, “This is a judge that should be disbarred,” and he also suggested that the judge should be removed from office.
Furthermore, Trump’s election campaign utilized the trial’s commencement as an opportunity for fundraising, framing it as his defense against what they called “corrupt tyrants” among New York Democrats, all in an effort to protect his family and reputation.
The case revolves around allegations made by the attorney general, claiming that Trump artificially inflated the value of his assets and his personal net worth between 2011 and 2021. This alleged inflation was purportedly done to secure more favorable bank loans and reduce insurance premiums.
MONA LISA PROPERTIES
Attorney General Letitia James has specifically accused Trump of significantly overvaluing assets such as his penthouse apartment in Trump Tower, Manhattan, his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as well as several office towers and golf clubs. It is alleged that this overvaluation could have inflated his personal wealth by as much as $2.2 billion.
In his opening statement, Kevin Wallace, a lawyer from James’ office, emphasized that the case was far from “business as usual” and criticized the way Trump handled these matters, stating, “These are not victimless crimes”.
On the other hand, Christopher Kise, Trump’s lawyer, argued in his opening statement that Trump’s financial dealings were completely within the bounds of the law.
Christopher Kise, Trump’s lawyer, argued that Trump’s wealth had been built on accurate real estate investments, saying, “He has made a fortune literally being right about real estate investments.” Kise asserted that there was no intention to defraud, no illegal activity, no defaults, breaches, reliance from the banks, unjust profits, or victims in this case.
Alina Habba, another lawyer involved, suggested to Judge Engoron that Trump’s assets were comparable to “Mona Lisa properties,” implying they held exceptional value and could command premium prices if Trump decided to sell them.
During the court proceedings, Trump appeared dressed in a dark blue suit, a bright blue tie, and wore an American flag pin on his lapel.
Upon entering, Trump referred to the case as “a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time”.
Attorney General Letitia James, in response, stated that her office was prepared to substantiate its case. She emphasized, “The law is both powerful and fragile. No matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law”.