In a recent turn of events, former President Donald Trump made a notable appearance in the ongoing civil fraud case against him in New York. His unexpected presence in court and his remarks to the press before and during the court recess have brought this case under a glaring spotlight.
Trump arrived at the last minute to address the media, and once inside the courtroom, he faced the cameras head-on. During the court recess following the opening arguments, he again spoke to the press, expressing his disdain for the proceedings. He labeled the situation as “disgraceful,” emphasizing the waste of time and resources on this case while other pressing issues like murders were ongoing. Trump defended his position by stating that the banks involved had been paid handsomely, and the loan money was repaid, negating the need for such a trial.
The former President also brought attention to a June appeals court ruling, which dismissed a significant portion of the case according to him. He expressed frustration over the presiding judge’s refusal to acknowledge this ruling, which limited the case to transactions completed after February 6, 2016, and claims accrued after July 13, 2014. This ruling also saw Ivanka Trump dismissed as a defendant due to her departure from the Trump Organization in 2016. “It was limited, and 80 percent of the case was won by us in the appellate division,” President Trump told reporters.
Trump’s legal team has argued that the statute of limitations set by the appellate court effectively dismisses the case brought forth by New York Attorney General Letitia James. However, James contends that the documented fraud falls within the statute of limitations.
The lawsuit, which seeks $250 million in penalties and aims to bar Trump and his adult sons from holding executive business positions in New York, was filed last September following a three-year investigation. A significant claim is that Trump inflated his net worth by a staggering amount over the years, which led to a pretrial summary judgment last week. This judgment revoked Trump’s business certificates and ordered the dissolution of the Trump Organization and its related LLCs, leaving the fate of Trump’s flagship properties hanging in the balance.
The trial, estimated to last until late December, has also sparked debates around property valuation methods. During the court proceedings, Justice Engoron clarified that he was quoting county assessor data and not personally assessing the value of Mar-a-Lago at $18 million. His ruling of fraud was related to President Trump’s failure to consider easements of the property while making the assessment.
Trump pointed to an article where real estate experts criticized the judge’s reliance on county assessor data for property valuation, arguing that this approach was flawed. The former President, who values his Mar-a-Lago resort at a minimum of $1 billion, read from the article, asserting that the judge’s method showcased a “misunderstanding” of real estate valuation principles.
Trump’s fervent remarks and his decision to attend the trial personally underscore his determination to challenge the allegations head-on. He termed the court proceedings a “witch hunt” and hoped that his legal team would fight vigorously against what he perceived as a biased judicial process.