Trump cries 'This is no fraud, it's a fraud on me' in New York civil fraud trial - Hindustan Times
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Donald Trump cries, 'This is no fraud, it's a fraud on me' in New York fraud trial after judge allows him to speak

Jan 12, 2024 07:15 AM IST

Donald Trump faces potential damages of $370 million and a permanent ban from the New York real estate scene.

The New York civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump came to a close on Thursday, with both sides making their final arguments before Judge Arthur Engoron, who will decide the case by January 31st.

TOPSHOT - Former US President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, in New York City on January 11, 2024. (Photo by Seth Wenig / POOL / AFP)(AFP)
TOPSHOT - Former US President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, in New York City on January 11, 2024. (Photo by Seth Wenig / POOL / AFP)(AFP)

The state attorney general’s office accused Trump of inflating his net worth by over a billion dollars in a fraudulent scheme to obtain more loans and benefits, while Trump insisted he was innocent and attacked the judge and the attorney general.

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The trial, which began on Oct. 2 and ended in mid-December, is a bench trial with no jury. It could result in Trump paying up to $370 million in damages and being permanently barred from the New York real estate industry where he built his reputation.

Trump surprised the court by requesting to speak for a few minutes during his lawyers’ closing arguments, claiming he was the most affected person in the case. His lawyer, Chris Kise, had made a similar request in an email on Wednesday, but the judge had denied it after Kise and Trump refused to avoid personal attacks in their statement.

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‘I’m an innocent man’

The judge reluctantly agreed to let Trump speak for up to five minutes on Thursday, but told him to “focus on the facts” of the case. Trump ignored the judge’s advice and started speaking without consent.

“We have a situation where I’m an innocent man,” Trump said to the judge. “They should pay me for what I’ve gone through.”

“This is not consumer fraud,” Trump continued. “This is no fraud. It is a fraud on me.”

Trump also hurled insults at the judge and the attorney general, Letitia James, who was present in the court.

“I know this is boring to you. I know you have your own agenda,” Trump said angrily to the judge at one point, while sitting at the defense table. He suggested James “hates” him and “doesn’t want him to get elected,” and called the case a “persecution.” The judge warned Kise to “please control your client.”

‘Mr. Donald Trump violated the law’

James, who spoke to reporters after the proceedings, said the case “has never been about politics.”

“This case is about the facts and the law, and Mr. Donald Trump violated the law,” she said.

The lawyers from the AG’s office, Kevin Wallace and Andrew Amer, presented evidence that Trump’s financial statements were “false every year” between 2011 and 2021 by “over a billion dollars.” Wallace said the trial was about “what did the defendants know and when did they know it?” and whether they acted with intent when they manipulated their annual financial statements as part of a conspiracy.

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“Did they know it? And the answer is yes,” Wallace said.

Amer gave several examples of what he called intentional fraud.

The former President also claimed his Trump Tower triplex apartment was three times its size, and estimated value, and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg signed off on a financial statement that continued to value the apartment at over $300 million even after he’d been alerted it was 10,000 square feet instead of 30,000.

“That screams of an intent to defraud,” Amer said.

Trump did not stay for the closing arguments from the AG’s office. He held a press conference at the same time at his nearby 40 Wall St. property. He told reporters there that James is a “political hack” and “we’ve proven the case so conclusively.”

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