Donald Trump attends New York fraud trial on second day

Former US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during the second day of his civil fraud trial in New York on October 3, 2023. — AFP
Former US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during the second day of his civil fraud trial in New York on October 3, 2023. — AFP

The four-time indicted former US President Donald Trump attended Tuesday his fraud case trial on the second day in New York court reiterating his claim that he is under the target of a political witch hunt, weeks after he was found liable in financial malpractices. 

The criminally charged former commander-in-chief, who is grappling with a number of cases, attacked the legal system of the US and called the trials against him a scam and fraudulent.

Donald Trump also lashed out Tuesday at New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the case against him, calling her “very corrupt” and “grossly incompetent,” before entering the chamber where he could eventually be barred from doing business in the state.

The 77-year-old has previously denounced the case as a “sham” intended to torpedo his bid to recapture the White House next year and Monday called James, who is African American, “racist.”

Attorney General Letitia James leaves the courtroom during the second day of the civil trial of former President Donald Trump at New York State Supreme Court on October 03, 2023, in New York City. — AFP
Attorney General Letitia James leaves the courtroom during the second day of the civil trial of former President Donald Trump at New York State Supreme Court on October 03, 2023, in New York City. — AFP   

The clear frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary was not required to attend the first two days in court but chose to do so, taking a seat at the defence table flanked by his lawyers.

In the courtroom were his two sons Don Jr and Eric, who are also on trial before New York Judge Arthur Engoron, whom Trump has called “deranged.”

On Tuesday the Republican watched the proceedings, which are in a technical phase, often scowling or looking on wearily.

Before the trial convened for its afternoon session, Engoron reprimanded Donald Trump for an insulting social media post about a court clerk and verbally issued a gag order for all parties to not comment on his staff. Trump’s post has since been removed.

Donald Trump and witch hunt

Trump declined to appear in person at an earlier civil case this year, in which he was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming an American former magazine columnist, E Jean Carroll and ordered to pay her $5 million in damages.

This time, he is not letting the opportunity to publicly frame himself as a victim slip by.

The move comes as Trump faces criminal charges in four different cases, with trials set to take place in 2024 — some in the middle of the Republican Party primaries.

An American former magazine columnist, E Jean Carroll. — AFP/File
An American former magazine columnist, E Jean Carroll. — AFP/File

“I want to watch this witch hunt myself,” he told reporters a day earlier.

Trump does not risk going to jail in the civil trial, but James is seeking $250 million in penalties and the removal of the former president and his sons from management of the family empire.

The state attorney general has accused Trump, his sons and other executives of colossally inflating the value of their assets in order to receive more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.

Accusations set aside

The accusations have been brushed off by Trump, who since Monday has mocked the court’s $18 million valuation of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. He claims the property is worth $1.5 billion.

The civil trial also involves multiple other Trump Organization properties such as Trump Tower and the 40 Wall Street building in New York, as well as golf courses.

Former President Donald Trump leaves the courtroom for a lunch recess during the second day of his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 03, 2023, in New York City. — AFP
Former President Donald Trump leaves the courtroom for a lunch recess during the second day of his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 03, 2023, in New York City. — AFP

Engoron ruled last week that Trump, his two eldest sons and other Trump Organization executives lied to tax collectors, lenders and insurers for years in a scheme that exaggerated the value of their properties by $812 million to $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021.

As a result, the judge revoked the state business licenses that allowed the Trump Organization to operate some of its New York properties and asked the parties to propose receivers to manage the dissolution of the companies in question.

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