On Monday (October 2nd), a New York civil court is scheduled to hear Donald Trump’s trial on charges of widespread business fraud. His formal opponent in court is the state attorney general’s office, but he’ll also be up against the judge.
The trial is the result of months of tension between the former president and Justice Arthur Engoron, a Democrat who was elected to his position as a trial judge in Manhattan in 2015. After a series of intense disputes with Trump, the nonjury trial will come down to Engoron’s decision.
Surprisingly, Trump may attend the trial in person, as his attorneys disclosed late last week. Trump will be sitting just a few feet away from a man he has publicly derided as deranged.
Last Monday, Judge Engoron issued a ruling that could spell the end for Trump’s dynastic enterprise. Trump Tower and the Trump International Hotel lost their business licenses when Engoron declared Trump guilty of extensive fraud. The ruling allows the trial to shift its emphasis to the penalties Trump must now face. And they might be severe: Tish James, the attorney general, has requested $250 million and a prohibition on any of Trump’s enterprises operating within the state.
The sweeping nature of Engoron’s pretrial finding surprised Trump, his attorneys, and even the attorney general’s staff. They’ve been working around the clock for the past few days to determine what this means for Trump’s company.
Trump responded by labeling the judge “unhinged” and a “political hack” who “must be stopped.”
“I have a deranged, Trump-Hating Judge, who railroaded this fake case through a NYS Court at a speed never before seen,” Trump wrote on his social media platform.
Trump and Engoron had been sparring long before James filed her case. Due to Trump’s refusal to cooperate with Attorney General James’ subpoena request, Judge Engoron found Trump in violation of court and fined him $10,000 per day during the investigation. The judge waived the contempt ruling and ordered Trump to pay $110,000 in fines.
Last week’s judgment by Engoron addressed what many consider the central issue in James’ case, finding that Trump had illegally increased his net worth between 2014 and 2021. Trump has vowed to challenge the verdict and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. What Trump, his companies, his sons, and his business acquaintances did with that misleading information will be at the forefront of the trial that begins on Monday. According to James, they used it to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurance companies, resulting in insurance fraud to gain tax benefits.
Trump’s potential financial penalties will also be decided at trial. James is asking for a $250 million retribution, a prohibition on Trump or his company from making real estate acquisitions for five years, and a lifetime ban on the Trumps serving as officers or directors in any companies based in New York.
Trump isn’t required to attend the New York civil trial. Until last week, he wasn’t expected to participate unless called to testify by the attorney general, which she has indicated she is considering. He didn’t appear in court for any of a federal civil trial held earlier this year in a separate lawsuit brought by Carroll.