Trump appears in court in New York for his $250 million fraud trial.
The $250 million civil fraud trial that might permanently bar former President Donald Trump from conducting business in New York began on Monday.
The trial comes a year after he, his firm, three of his adult children, and top Trump Organization managers were sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
James claimed that the defendants misrepresented the valuations of real estate holdings in company documents by billions of dollars in order to secure better loan and insurance conditions, as well as tax breaks.
Trump arrives at the Manhattan Supreme Court for the opening of the trial as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Before the investigation began, Trump said it was a “witch hunt” to derail his presidential campaign.
“Everything was flawless. There had been no crime. “The crime is against me,” Trump said to reporters outside the courthouse.
Last Monday, Judge Arthur Engoron concluded that Trump and the other defendants were responsible for the fraud accusations, handing James a huge victory. In that decision, Engoron revoked the defendants’ New York company certificates and appointed an independent receiver to supervise their liquidation.
Engoron, rather than a jury, will decide whether the defendants are accountable for the other six claims during the trial, which is scheduled to expire in late December.
“The people have already proven” that Trump’s financial statements from 2011 to 2021 were “false and misleading,” said Kevin Wallace, an attorney general’s office prosecutor, during his opening statement to the judge.
Wallace showed video excerpts from key witness depositions, including Trump, former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, and former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
In one video, Cohen stated that he and Weisselberg would inflate the worth of real estate holdings to reach the amount desired by Trump in order to assist him rise higher on Forbes’ wealth rankings.
Wallace contended that while a person can inflate their wealth for Forbes Magazine or television viewers, they “cannot do it while conducting business in the State of New York.”
However, defense counsel Christopher Kise believes that the evidence will establish that “there was no intent to defraud.”
The loans obtained by Trump’s company were “successful” and “profitable,” according to Kise.
“The banks made well over a hundred million dollars,” said Kise.
In a statement, James, who is also in court, said, “For years, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth to enrich himself and cheat the system.”
“We won the foundation of our case last week and proved that his purported net worth has long been rooted in incredible fraud,” James stated. “In this country, there are no two sets of laws for people, no matter how rich or powerful they are.” It is my obligation to ensure that the rule of law applies equitably to everyone.”
In June, an appeals court determined that the allegations against Ivanka Trump were restricted by the statute of limitations, and she was removed from the lawsuit. However, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who took over the family business after their father was elected president in 2016, remain defendants.