Donald Trump is accused of raising more than $100m by lying about the value of his real estate empire, as he attacked the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial.
The ex-president – and current favourite to stand as the Republican candidate for the White House next year – committed fraud for years while building his property portfolio, a court ruled last week.
He’s now back in a New York court as the prosecution look at demonstrating “the full extent of his fraud and illegality”.
Attorney General Letitia James, who sued Mr Trump in this case, is seeking at least $250m (£201m) in fines and a permanent ban against him and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York.
She also wants a five-year commercial real estate ban against Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation. He could even lose Trump Tower.
The case is centred on accusations that Mr Trump inflated his assets and net worth from 2011 to 2021 to get hold of favourable bank loans and lower insurance premiums.
Before the trial began, Mr Trump dismissed the case as a “scam” and a “sham”, claiming it is a “continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time”.
During a lunch break, he called the Democrat “a corrupt person, a terrible person, driving people out of New York”.
He was equally scathing of the judge, Arthur Engoron, calling him a partisan Democrat who is using the case to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.
“This is a judge that should be disbarred,” he told reporters. “This is a judge that should be out of office.”
Six additional claims
The trial – which is without a jury – will review six additional claims including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy, and rule how much the defendants should pay in fines.
Last week, the judge found Mr Trump, his adult sons and 10 of his companies liable for fraud, describing in scathing terms how the defendants made up valuations.
These included, he said, valuing the Trump Tower apartment as if it were three times its actual size, and estimating Mar-a-Lago was worth up to $739m – even though an outside assessment pit it at no more than $28m.
The judge cancelled business certificates for companies controlling pillars of his empire, while Mr Trump responded at the time by calling Mr Engoron “deranged”.
Mr Trump is accused of inflating his own fortune by as much as $2.2bn.
“This isn’t business as usual, and this isn’t how sophisticated parties deal with each other,” a lawyer from Ms James’ office, Kevin Wallace, said in court.
“These are not victimless crimes.”
Christopher Kise, a lawyer for Mr Trump, responded that his financials were entirely legal.
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“He has made a fortune literally being right about real estate investments,” Mr Kise said.
Alina Habba, another lawyer, separately told Mr Engoron that Mr Trump’s assets were “Mona Lisa properties” that could fetch premium prices if Mr Trump sold them.
After the opening day concluded, Mr Trump said is it “unfair” he does not have a jury.
The trial could last until 22 December.