(New York) Donald Trump, on trial with two of his sons for having overvalued their real estate assets by billions of dollars in the 2010s, attacked a “sham” of justice on Monday, attacking a prosecutor he said was “racist » and “corrupt” and a “rogue” magistrate.
The favorite in the Republican camp polls for the 2024 American presidential election is playing big during this civil trial, which threatens to make him lose control of his economic empire, in addition to financial penalties of up to $250 million.
In a navy blue suit and electric blue tie, he was virulent upon his arrival at the Supreme Court of the State of New York, accusing in front of a forest of cameras the attorney general who filed a complaint against him, the African-American magistrate Letitia James, for being “racist” and “corrupt”, also calling it a “horror show”.
This trial, one of the first in a long series, is a “sham” and “electoral interference” to prevent him from returning to the White House in 2024, he further accused, also addressing the judge who presides over the proceedings, Arthur Engoron, of “thug”.
Inside the courtroom, the former president, 77, spent his first day sitting with his face closed, speaking only to his lawyers. One of his two sons targeted by the complaint, Eric Trump, sat behind him on the first day of this trial which promises to be long and technical.
“Real estate empire”
Donald Trump, Eric Trump and another of his sons, Donald Trump Jr, are targeted, along with the Trump Organization, by a civil complaint from Letitia James, who accuses them of having inflated their assets colossally to obtain loans more favorable terms with banks and better insurance conditions.
One of Donald Trump’s lawyers, Chris Kise, on the contrary defended a “president [qui] built one of the most successful real estate empires on the planet” denying the slightest accounting irregularity. Her colleague, Alina Habba insisted that her powerful client had not committed any “fraud” but was doing “real estate”.
“It’s not about a conspiracy, it’s about doing business,” she argued.
In the camp opposite, Mme James accused the real estate mogul of “repeated fraud” and “cheating” for years.
Kevin Wallace, one of his team members, reaffirmed that the fraud had already been legally established and that the people targeted by the civil complaint “had overstated their assets between $812 million and $2.2 billion per year” by 2014 to 2021.
Including when Mr. Trump was in the White House (2017-2021).
The case took on considerable importance last week when Judge Engoron ruled in an interim order that “repeated fraud” had been established.
As a result, the magistrate ordered the withdrawal of business licenses in New York State from Donald Trump and his sons, directors of the Trump Organization, as well as the confiscation of the companies targeted by the complaint, to be entrusted to liquidators.
Donald Trump, who made his fortune in real estate and casinos in the 1980s, has appealed, but if the decision were implemented, he would lose control of several of his group’s flagships, such as the Trump Tower on the 5e Manhattan Avenue.
These properties are at the heart of Letitia James’ accusations: the surface area of the businessman’s triplex in the Trump Tower would have been tripled, while the building at 40 Wall Street overvalued by $200 to $300 million in declarations financial.
Donald Trump cannot be sentenced to prison in this case. But the trial will offer a foretaste of the legal events likely to disrupt his campaign for the Republican nomination.
Criminally charged in four cases, he must notably appear from March 4 in a federal court in Washington, where he is accused of having tried to reverse the result of the November 2020 presidential election.
The civil trial is scheduled to last until Christmas.
Dozens of witnesses must speak, the first of which, on Monday, was a former employee of Mazars, an accounting firm which had decided in 2021 to no longer work for the Trump Organization.
The list of witnesses also includes Donald Trump himself, and three of his children, Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka initially targeted by the complaint but ultimately not prosecuted.
In the afternoon, Donald Trump’s supporters received a new call to finance his campaign, as with each of his indictments.