Donald Trump appeared in a Manhattan courtroom Monday for the start of a civil trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump and his business partners — including his adult sons — are accused of fraudulently inflating the value of the Trump Organization’s assets to obtain loans and favorable business deals. James is seeking to fine Trump $250 million and is asking for a permanent ban on Trump family members running a business in New York.
Attorney General Letitia James: “No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law. And it is my responsibility and my duty and my job to enforce it. The law is both powerful and fragile. And today in court, we will prove our case.”
Trump will receive a bench trial presided over by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, after Trump’s lawyers did not request a jury trial. Speaking to reporters outside the court Monday, Trump assailed Attorney General James — who’s African American — as a “racist” and called Judge Engoron a “disgrace.”
Donald Trump: “He’s a Democrat operative, and he’s a disgrace to people that call themself judges. … This is a judge that should be disbarred. This is a judge that should be out of office. This is a judge that some people say could be charged criminally for what he’s doing.”
On Monday, over 30 advocacy groups, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Public Citizen, published an open letter calling for the protection of juries in Trump’s four ongoing criminal cases. The letter cites Trump’s harassment of jurors in Georgia and Washington, D.C., adding, “These attacks threaten centuries-old American institutions designed by the Framers to hold to account any leader who would be king.”