April 24, 2024

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Trump Accuses Judge and Prosecutor as Fraud Trial Begins, Threatening Empire

As the fraud trial against former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organisation, and several executives, including Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, kicked off in New York Superior Court, the former president launched a tirade outside the courtroom, accusing Judge Arthur Engoron of being a “rogue adjudicator.” Inside the courtroom, Trump occasionally glanced in the judge’s direction but largely remained composed.

State’s Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case against Trump and his associates, sat in the front row with little direct interaction with the former president. The trial focuses on allegations of fraud, falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements, and conspiracy.

Trump’s lawyers countered the charges, disputing accusations that he had overvalued his properties by hundreds of millions of dollars to secure favourable bank loans. Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, argued that real estate values were subjective and that his properties were “Mona Lisas.”

The trial opened with the prosecution accusing Trump and his co-defendants of intentionally committing fraud, resulting in Trump gaining over $100 million. Observers expected a tense atmosphere, given Trump’s personal attacks, but direct interactions between the key figures remained minimal.

During the afternoon session, former Trump accountant Donald Bender testified as the first witness called by the attorney general’s office. Bender had previously testified in a criminal trial against the Trump Organisation, alleging tax evasion. The trial will span three months and be decided by Judge Engoron without a jury.

In the civil case, none of the defendants would face jail time if convicted. However, Attorney General James seeks $250 million in damages and sanctions that could hinder the Trumps from conducting business in New York. The outcome may also affect Trump’s property holdings.

The trial’s commencement marks a significant legal challenge for Trump and his business interests.