Published: 2023-10-03 20:00
Last Updated: 2023-11-28 19:40
A combative Donald Trump lashed out at the judge and attorney general Monday on the first day of a trial for civil fraud that could see the former president barred from doing business in New York state.
The 77-year-old Trump, who is facing legal battles on several fronts, denounced the business fraud case as a "sham" intended to torpedo his bid to recapture the White House next year.
"This has to do with election interference, plain and simple," Trump said as he arrived for the opening day of what could be a three-month trial. "What we have here is an attempt to hurt me in an election."
New York Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his sons Eric and Don Jr committed fraud by inflating the value of the real estate and financial assets of the Trump Organization for years.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is now seeking USD 250 million in penalties and the removal of Trump and his sons from management of the family empire.
"Justice will prevail," James told reporters. "No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law."
Trump was not required to attend the opening day of the trial but chose to do so, taking a seat at the defense table flanked by his lawyers.
"It's a scam. It's a sham," he told reporters before entering the Manhattan courtroom. "My financial statements are phenomenal."
During a lunch break, a visibly angry Trump condemned what he called a "disgraceful trial put forward by an attorney general who is corrupt."
There is no jury in the trial, meaning Trump's fate is entirely in Engoron's hands -- which did not dissuade the former president from branding him a "rogue" Democratic judge who should be "disbarred."
The New York case is the first of a number of upcoming trials for the former president.
Trump is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Washington on March 4, 2024 on charges of trying to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump will then be back in New York state court, this time on charges of paying hush money to an adult film actress, and later in a federal court in Florida, where he is accused of mishandling classified documents after leaving office.
Finally, he will also have to answer to state charges in Georgia, where prosecutors say Trump illegally tried to get the southern state's 2020 election results changed in his favor.