Donald Trump faces court in New York as threat to his business enterprise looms

The ruling against Donald Trump was issued on case investigated by state's Attorney General Letitia James

By Web Desk
October 03, 2023
Former US President Donald Trump talks to journalists as he arrives for the start of his civil fraud trial in New York on October 2, 2023. — AFP

As the former US President arrived in a New York court after being found guilty of commercial fraud, the criminally charged criticised the civil case and the legal system, as JudgeArthur Engoron ruled that the billionaire overvalued his assets to secure better financial deals.

The ruling was issued on the case investigated by the state's Attorney General Letitia James, rescinding the licenses of the Trump Organization and other companies owned by Donald Trump and his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr.


The 77-year-old regarded his legal woes as attempts to throw him out of the presidential elections in 2024, threatening his business enterprise.

"This has to do with election interference, plain and simple," Trump said as he arrived for the opening day of what could be a three-month trial. "What we have here is an attempt to hurt me in an election."

New York Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that the four-time indicted Trump and his sons committed fraud by inflating the value of the real estate and financial assets of the Trump Organization for years.

James is seeking $250 million in penalties and the removal of Trump and his sons from management of the family empire as she told reporters that "justice will prevail."

"No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law."

Trump was not required to attend the opening day of the trial but chose to do so, taking a seat at the defence table flanked by his lawyers.

Former US President Donald Trump (C) attends the trial of himself, his adult sons, the Trump Organization, and others in a civil fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James, at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City on October 2, 2023. — AFP

"It's a scam. It's a sham," he told reporters before entering the Manhattan courtroom. "My financial statements are phenomenal."

During a lunch break, a visibly angry Donald Trump condemned what he called a "disgraceful trial put forward by an attorney general who is corrupt."

There is no jury in the trial, meaning Trump's fate is entirely in Engoron's hands — which did not dissuade the former president from branding him a "rogue" Democratic judge who should be "disbarred."

The New York case is the first of a number of upcoming trials for the former president.

The former commander-in-chief is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Washington on March 4, 2024, on charges of trying to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump will then be back in New York state court, this time on charges of paying hush money to an adult film star, and later in a federal court in Florida, where he is accused of mishandling classified documents after leaving office.

Finally, he will also have to answer to state charges in Georgia, where prosecutors say Trump illegally tried to get the southern state's 2020 election results changed in his favour.

Donald Trump, with sons expected to testify

In the New York case, Engoron ruled that Trump, his two eldest sons and other Trump Organization executives lied to tax collectors, lenders and insurers for years in a scheme that exaggerated the value of their properties by $812 million to $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021.

The judge revoked the business licenses that allowed the Trump Organization to operate some of its New York properties, a move known as the "corporate death penalty."

The Republican presidential forerunner — who made his reputation and fortune as a real estate mogul in the 1980s — could lose control over many of his company's flagship properties, such as his 5th Avenue Trump Tower in Manhattan.

According to James, a Democrat, Trump's own apartment in that building is among the spaces that were fraudulently overvalued — it was listed as three times bigger than its true size.

Another Manhattan building, at 40 Wall Street, was overvalued between $200-$300 million in financial disclosures, James alleges.

Trump's luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — the site of the classified documents drama — and several other Trump Organization golf clubs also appear in James's complaint.

There are likely to be dozens of witnesses called to testify at the trial, including Trump himself and three of his children, Eric, Don Jr and his oldest daughter Ivanka.

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen — now an outspoken critic of the former president — and officials from Trump-linked financial institutions are also expected to appear.