With control of some of his most prized real estate under threat, former United States President Donald Trump says he will voluntarily go to court on Monday for the start of a civil trial in a case that has already resulted in the decision that he committed fraud in his business dealings.
“I will go to court tomorrow morning to defend my name and reputation,” Mr. Trump wrote Sunday evening on his Truth Social platform.
In his message, Mr. Trump attacked New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is prosecuting him, and Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the nonjury trial and who issued the fraud ruling last week .
“THIS WHOLE MATTER IS A FRAME!!! »wrote Mr. Trump. “See you in court Monday morning. »
The trial is the culmination of a several-year investigation led by Mr.me James, who accused Mr. Trump and his company of regularly lying about his wealth in financial statements.
Last week, Judge Engoron resolved the lawsuit’s main claim before the trial even began, ruling that Mr. Trump routinely misled banks, insurers and others by exaggerating the value of assets on documents used to enter into transactions and obtain loans.
The former president and his inner circle — his two eldest sons, Trump Organization executives and former lawyer-turned-enemy Michael Cohen — are among dozens of potential witnesses.
Mr. Trump is not expected to testify for several weeks. His appearance in court on Monday will mark a remarkable change from his previous practices.
Mr. Trump did not appear in court as a witness or spectator when his company and one of its top executives were convicted of tax fraud last year. He also failed to appear at the trial earlier this year in which a jury found him responsible for sexually assaulting writer E. Jean Carroll in the cabin. fitting at a department store.
In some ways, however, this new trial has higher stakes.
Prosecutor James, a Democrat, is seeking US$250 million in penalties and a ban on doing business in New York.
Last week’s ruling by Judge Engoron, if upheld on appeal, would also hand control of some of his companies to a receiver and could force him to give up prized New York properties such as Trump Tower , a Wall Street office building, golf courses and a suburban estate.
Mr. Trump called the decision a “death sentence for business.”
“I have a deranged, Trump-hating judge who FORCED THIS FALSE CASE through a New Jersey court at a speed never seen before,” Mr. Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
In his message on Sunday evening, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Engoron is “unjust, unhinged and vicious in his PURSUIT of me.”
Mr. Engoron will rule on the six remaining complaints in the trial of M.me James, including allegations of conspiracy, falsification of business records and insurance fraud.
Mme James accuses Mr. Trump and his company of a long list of lies in the financial statements he gave to the banks. In a recent court filing, Ms.’s officeme James claims Mr. Trump exaggerated his wealth by US$3.6 billion.
He famously claimed that his Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan — a three-story penthouse with gold-plated fixtures — was almost three times larger than it was and worth a staggering $327 million. US. No apartment in New York City has ever sold for such a high amount, noted Mme James.
Mr. Trump valued Mar-a-Lago at US$739 million, more than ten times a more reasonable estimate of its value, according to Ms. James. The figure put forward by Mr. Trump was based on the idea that the property, now a private club, could be developed for residential purposes, but the terms of the deed prohibit this, according to Mr.me James.
Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing, saying in his sworn testimony that what he put in his financial statements didn’t matter because they included a disclaimer saying he didn’t shouldn’t be trusted.
He and his lawyers also argued that no one was harmed by anything in the financial statements. The banks he borrowed money from were fully repaid. Business partners made money. And Mr. Trump’s business prospered.
The legal action brought by Mme James is one of several legal headaches facing Mr Trump as he campaigns to return to the White House in next year’s election. He has been indicted four times since March, accused of plotting to overturn his 2020 election defeat, hoarding classified documents and falsifying business records related to bribes paid in his name.
The trial could last until December, Mr. Engoron said.
With information from Jill Colvin