Verdict expected in Trump’s NY fraud trial

Henry

A judge in New York is expected to issue a ruling on Friday that could shatter Donald Trump’s business empire and force him to pay up to $370 million over fraud allegations.

He is accused of illegally inflating his wealth and manipulating the value of his properties to obtain more favorable bank loans or insurance terms.

Since the case is civil rather than criminal, there is no threat of jail time.

If Trump is held liable, as expected, the amount to be paid by the former president and his companies will be disclosed in the judge’s final order.

Trump used his legal problems to fire up his supporters and denounce Democratic rival Joe Biden, repeating claims that legal action was “just a way to hurt me in the election.”

This civil fraud trial is one of multiple cases Trump faces as he tries to return to the White House, ranging from a hush-hush allegation to cover up money to a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has sought $370 million from Trump to fix the benefit he allegedly obtained improperly, as well as to bar him from doing business in the state.

It was as a real estate developer and businessman in New York that Trump built his public profile which he used as a springboard into the entertainment industry and eventually the presidency.

Brings legal danger

Trump has repeatedly attacked James and labeled her “insane”, as well as smeared Judge Arthur Engoron, who will decide the case without a jury, calling him “out of control”.

During highly technical testimony, the court heard that in one instance Trump valued Mar-a-Lago, his exclusive Florida club, by “using asking prices, rather than actual sales prices, for comparison.”

“From 2011-2015, defendants added a 30% premium because the property was a “completed (commercial) facility,” the prosecutor said, arguing that this unlawfully distorted its true value.

But Chris Kise, Trump’s lawyer, says that there is no clear and current evidence that confirms the intent by Donald Trump.

Kise acknowledged that there may be errors in Trump’s corporate financial statements, but none led to the conclusion that there was fraud.

In New York, Trump appeared before a trial in court, where he stands trial on charges of illegally covering up hush money payments, the first criminal trial of a former US president.

Trump’s lawyers also represented him in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is accused of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden.

The prosecutor in that case reacted with barely concealed indignation on Thursday to attempts to have her removed from the case due to inappropriate behavior, and testified that her relationship with another lawyer in the case was not relevant.

Trump was due to go on trial in Washington in March for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election, but that case has been delayed while Trump tries to assert immunity in higher courts.

The twice-impeached former president will go on trial in Florida in May on charges that he took top secret documents into his personal possession when he left the presidency and thwarted officials from getting them back.

In January, a New York jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to compensate author E Jean Carroll, whom he sexually assaulted and defamed.