The high-stakes fraud lawsuit against former President Donald Trump took center stage in a New York courtroom on Monday, as state lawyers led by New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed to hold Trump accountable, while the former president denounced the case as a politically motivated “scam.”
In a fiery exchange of words, Kevin Wallace, a lawyer representing James’ office, accused Trump and his company of perpetually misrepresenting his wealth in financial statements, stating, “They were lying year after year after year.”
Meanwhile, Trump, sitting at the defense table, responded with fervor, calling the lawsuit “a scam” and “an attempt to hurt me in an election.”
Trump, facing the potential loss of control over his prized properties, including Trump Tower and other significant real estate holdings, voluntarily appeared at the trial.
His claims of being targeted for political reasons were reiterated as he entered the courtroom, labeling the case as “the single greatest witch hunt of all time.”
Judge Arthur Engoron had previously ruled that Trump committed fraud in his business dealings, a decision that, if upheld on appeal, could result in Trump relinquishing valuable New York properties.
Trump has vehemently protested, referring to it as “a corporate death penalty” and accusing the judge of bias.
This non-jury trial will see Judge Engoron decide on six other claims in the lawsuit, with James seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump conducting business in New York.
Before the trial commenced, James emphasized her belief that Trump had engaged in “persistent and repeated fraud,” asserting, “No matter how powerful you are, and no matter how much money you think you have, no one is above the law.”
In his opening statement, Wallace placed the blame squarely on Trump for the alleged financial discrepancies, stating, “Every estimate was determined by Mr. Trump.”
Trump, who is a frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that James and the judge undervalued his assets, including Mar-a-Lago, and dismissing the significance of his financial statements by referring to disclaimers that advise against trust in their accuracy.
Trump is not expected to testify for several weeks, marking a significant departure from his previous courtroom practices.
This lawsuit by Letitia James is one of several legal challenges Trump faces as he campaigns for a return to the White House in the upcoming election. With the trial expected to last into December, the outcome remains uncertain, adding another layer of complexity to the already intense political landscape surrounding the former president.
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