'Show trial' begins in Letitia James' 'witch hunt' against Trump Organization

"This has to do with election interference, plain and simple."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
President Donald Trump faced New York prosecutors and Judge Arthur Engoron in a Manhattan court on Monday morning, where he is battling against a civil suit that claims he undertook a conspiracy to overvalue his property holdings, then used that overvaluation to obtain better loan terms. The trial is expected to last for three months.

Photographers were allowed into the courtroom before the trial commenced, and mostly took photos of Trump, with a shot of Judge Engoron laughing. Reporters who were not in the room were able to watch a live stream from an overflow room, though that was not made public.

Speaking to reporters prior to the trial, Trump said: "This is a continuation of the single greatest witchhunt of all time. We have a rogue judge who rules that properties are worth a tiny fraction... of what they actually are. We have a racist attorney general whose a horror show, who ran on the basis that she was gonna get Trump before she even knew anything about me. She used this to run for governor. She failed in her attempt to run for governor she had virtually no polling. She came back and she said, 'well now I'll go back to get Trump again.' And this is what we have. It's a scam. It's a sham."

"Just so you know, my financial statements are phenomenal. They are actually less in terms of the numbers used than the actual networth," he said. He noted further that banks he worked with "can't believe that they're involved, because they were paid back on time. There were no defaults. There were no problems. And it was like a perfect client."

Trump went on to slam the rising crime in New York, which saw two shot and killed in Manhattan over the weekend while walking their dog. "In the meantime, people are being murdered all over the sidewalks of New York. There was no victim here. The banks were represented by the best, biggest, most prestigious law firms in the state of New York actually the country, some of the biggest law firms in all cases, the biggest investment firms as the representative. The banks got back their money. Again, there was never a default. It was never a problem. Everything was perfect. There was no crime."

"The crime is against me, because we have a corrupt district attorney but we have a corrupt attorney heneral," Trump said. "And it all comes down from the DOJ that totally coordinated this in Washington because I'm leading I'm the leading candidate and I'm leading Biden by 10 points. And I'm leading the Republicans by 50 and 60 points, that's pretty much they say over I never accept that but they say it's over. This has to do with election interference, plain and simple."

"One thing I know a lot about is the legal definition of fraud," Engoron said ahead of the trial.

Trump's attorney Chris Kise argued that the state's trial hinges on the testimony of Michael Cohen, who used to be one of Trump's attorneys. Kise said that Cohen is a "serial liar" and that "The government hinges its proof of conspiracy on a serial liar."

Cohen was convicted in 2018 on federal charges after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about Trump's real estate plans, campaign finance charges, and other charges, and was sentenced to three years in prison and a $50,000 fine. He was disbarred and furloughed to house arrest in 2020.

Trump has said both that he did not overvalue his holdings—Engoron claimed his sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate is worth a mere $18 million—and that he paid back all the loans, sometimes ahead of schedule, and with interest.

In a summary judgment last week, Engoron canceled the business certificates for many of Trump's businesses, which are required to do business in New York state. Engoron further required the naming of independent receivers who are tasked with "manag[ing] the dissolution" of the limited liability corporations The Trump Organization operates in New York. Attorney General Letitia James' goal is to put Trump, and the Trump Organization, out of business in New York state.

Trump said that Engoron did not account for the full value of his portfolio. "We have other properties, the same thing. So he devalued everything," Trump said. "We have among the greatest properties in the world. and I have to go through this for political reasons."

There is no jury in the trial, and Engoron has already ruled "that Trump committed years of fraud by exaggerating his wealth and the value of assets on financial statements he used to get loans and make deals. As punishment, the judge said he would dissolve some of Trump’s companies." James seeks $250 million in monetary damages from Trump.

“I have a Deranged, Trump Hating Judge, who RAILROADED this FAKE CASE through a NYS Court at a speed never before seen,” Trump said last week.
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