Donald Trump’s fraud trial began Monday in New York, and the former president is handling it about as well as can be expected—which is to say, terribly.
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump and the Trump Organization in September 2022 for business fraud. She accused him and his associates of gaining more than $100 million by fraudulently inflating the value of their real estate assets, and is seeking a penalty of $250 million. State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron issued a partial summary judgment last week ruling that Trump committed business fraud and ordering all his New York business certificates be canceled. This makes it nearly impossible to do business in New York and could effectively kill the Trump Organization as it exists today.
Monday’s trial is to determine how much Trump owes New York in damages. He has spent the whole day accusing James, who is Black, of being racist against him and accusing Engoron of being a Democratic operative.
“JUST ARRIVED AT THE COURTHOUSE TO FIGHT A CORRUPT & RACIST ATTORNEY GENERAL, AND A ROGUE, OUT OF CONTROL, TRUMP HATING JUDGE, WHO REFUSES TO FOLLOW THE APPELLATE COURT DECISION WHICH KNOKS OUT 80% OF THIS SHAM CASE,” Trump wrote on Truth Social Monday morning. “THIS IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!”
Speaking to reporters before entering the courtroom, Trump said, “They’re trying to damage me so I don’t do as well as I’m doing in the election. Our country has gone to hell.”
He also repeated that the trial is “the single greatest witch hunt of all time,” one of his favorite phrases, and one that he used multiple times on Truth Social throughout the day, as well.
At midday, Trump accused Engoron of having “already made up his mind.”
“It’s ridiculous,” Trump said. “He’s a Democrat judge, he’s an operative, and it’s ridiculous.”
The lawsuit alleges that Trump claimed his Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan was three times its actual size and worth $327 million. No New York City apartment has ever sold for that much, James said.
He also valued Mar-a-Lago at $739 million. In reality, it’s worth about a tenth of that amount. Trump’s valuation was based on the property’s potential for residential development, but the terms of its deed prevent the land from ever being used that way.