United States Trump calls the civil trial for fraud in his real estate empire a "witch hunt"

Defiant, confident, with a tough demeanor and willing to clear his name

United States Trump calls the civil trial for fraud in his real estate empire a "witch hunt"

Defiant, confident, with a tough demeanor and willing to clear his name. In this way, the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, appeared in the courts of southern Manhattan for the civil trial that began yesterday against his company, accused of fraud after inflating the prices of his properties to obtain bank loans and other benefits. during years. Both he and his two oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as several members of the Trump Organization, face a $250 million penalty and the impossibility of doing business in New York State permanently. .

Dressed in a blue suit and matching tie, Trump, who attended the trial voluntarily and accompanied by his children, spoke to the media present before entering the courtroom, delivering his usual speech regarding the mountain of judicial issues you face. He spoke of persecution by New York Attorney General Letitia James and played the role of victim. "This is the continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time," he said. "This has to do with electoral interference, simple as that. They are trying to hurt me so that I don't do as well as I am doing in the elections."

However, much of the damage against his organization has already been done. Last Tuesday, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron - the same one who presided over the civil trial yesterday - found the Republican and his children responsible for fraud and canceled the business certification of the Trump Organization, a ruling that could represent a fatal blow to the former president's financial empire in the midst of his re-election bid.

The Republican magnate could lose control of such important assets as Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and an office building at 40 Wall Street, in addition to other properties. Engoron rejected the arguments put forward by Trump's legal team, which actively and passively assured that he did not inflate the values ​​of his golf courses, hotels and several residences, including the Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, where he hid a crowd of boxes of classified documents that ended up being seized by the FBI in a search in the summer of last year.

The former president is accused, for example, of having increased the value of his Trump Tower apartment, a luxury triplex where his family lives, by 114 million. "A discrepancy of this magnitude by a real estate developer evaluating his own living space for decades can only be considered fraud," Erdogon wrote.

Kevin Wallace, a lawyer from Prosecutor James's office, asked the judge in his opening statement at the first hearing of the case to prevent the New York tycoon and his companies from continuing to operate in New York. "While it's one thing to exaggerate for Forbes magazine... it can't be done while doing business in New York State," he said, arguing that the figure for the Republican's empire was exaggerated by up to $3.6 billion in one decade, between 2011 and 2021.

The former president's lawyer, for his part, argued that his client has become a multimillionaire by knowing well the United States real estate market. "Trump has made billions of dollars building one of the most successful real estate empires in the world," said Chris Kise. "He has literally made a fortune by being right in real estate."

Following Erdogon's ruling last week, the goal of the process is to determine the amount that the former president's organization will have to pay - up to $250 million - and whether he will be de facto expelled from the New York real estate scene on which he built his fortune and reputation. of a great businessman. On the list of witnesses called to testify are, in addition to his children, the firm's former financial chief, Allen Weisselberg, the man who pleaded guilty last year to being behind tax fraud for 15 years. Ivanka Trump, who held an executive position in her father's organization, will not have to appear following the decision of a New York appeals court.

The trial, which could last until the end of December, is one more on the list of pending cases that the former president has and that could complicate his re-election options. Democrats are confident of his disqualification from any political office if he is convicted, although the tight schedule suggests that there will only be time for only one of the four federal trials that await him before the November 2024 elections, probably that of his involvement. in the assault on the Capitol.

The truth is that the 91 charges against him for this series of processes have done nothing but favor his dreams of re-election. His speech about the systematic persecution of the Government of Joe Biden and other factions has shot him up in the Republican Party primary polls. His horde of followers seem more than convinced of the "witch hunt" that he argues exists against him. His lead is up to 50 points over his closest pursuer, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.

For some analysts, this trial is a continuation of that phenomenon in reverse. Hence, he presented himself voluntarily and attended the media, with a serious expression, projecting the image of not being afraid of this process or of all those that are to come.