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Updated October 4th, 2023 at 12:27 IST

Trump slams New York Attorney General Letitia James as a 'fraud'; 'This is a rigged trial'

“This has to do with election interference, plain and simple,” Trump claimed, as he made his way to the courtroom, where he was in attendance voluntarily.

Reported by: Zaini Majeed
Edited by: Zaini Majeed
Trump
US President Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Image: AP | Image:self
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Shortly before the testimony in the Manhattan courtroom resumed after the opening statements earlier on Tuesday, the day 2 of the ex-US President's trial, Donald Trump berated the New York Attorney General Letitia James using labels such as "grossly incompetent" and "a fraud". Trump went all guns blazing at James that the case she brought was a "scam, a sham, a witch hunt" and a political vendetta ahead of his 2024 election bid. "Her numbers are fraudulent," Trump said.

The ex-US President railed against the attorney general for bringing a $250 million civil fraud trial against him, his company and two of his children. He declared it was a "concocted bogus case" and that the entire trial was "rigged". He hit out at the New York Attorney General as a Democrat who was a "corrupt person, a terrible person. Driving people out of New York."

The Republican leader linked the case to special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal indictments as the process kicked off. The 54-year-old veteran prosecutor, whom Trump once labelled a "deranged" man who "destroyed a lot of lives", indicted the ex-US president on 40 felony counts over alleged mishandling of 'top secret' classified documents and election subversion.   

“This has to do with election interference, plain and simple,” Trump claimed, as he made his way to the courtroom, where he was in attendance voluntarily. “They’re trying to damage me, so I don’t do as well as I’m doing in the election.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks with journalists during a midday break from court proceedings in New York. Credit: AP

'Fraud case to interfere in 2024 elections': Trump 

An irate Trump disparaged Justice Arthur Engoron as a 'partisan Democrat' who used a fraud case against him 'to interfere with the 2024 presidential election' in which he's a Republican frontrunner. Trump already faces criminal charges in four different jurisdictions, including two cases in connection with his bid to overturn the 2020 election that sealed victory for his Democrat political nemesis, Joe Biden. 

After the opening statements were done and he sat patiently through the AG attorney Kevin Wallace’s presentation to Judge Arthur Engoron, tapping his foot occasionally, visibly impatient, Trump stormed out of the courtroom with an angry glare at Attorney General Letitia James. Wallace, with the attorney general's office, told the judge that Trump and his co-defendants committed persistent fraud in business dealings and inflated financial statements to the tune of 'hundreds of millions of dollars' with values [approximately by $812 million to $2.2 billion] that were 'determined by Donald Trump.'

In a more combative approach, Trump's lawyers said that the attorney general’s case was 'flawed' as judges expected that the trial could last well into December. The ex-US President, who paints all his legal woes as his opponent's political retribution, tried to lay fraud blame on Trump Organization's chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg for obtaining certifications at his deposition, which Wallace slammed as a 'lie.' 

“We’re going to be here for months with a judge that has already made up his mind. It’s ridiculous,” Trump said while making remarks with the American reporters gathered outside the court bickering about the trial. He then amped attacks on Judge Engoron.

“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. He’s interfering with an election, and it’s a disgrace,” Trump said.

Attorney General Letitia James brought the lawsuit accusing the former president of generating more than $100 million US by lying and inflating his wealth and his real estate empire. James is seeking a permanent ban against Trump, his co-defendants and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, a ban on his businesses in New York, a five-year restriction on commercial real estate activities, and a ban on his flagship Trump Organization. 

A motorcade carrying former President Donald Trump leaves the 60 Center St. New York State Supreme Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York. Credit: AP

The opening statements started with Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA and longtime accountant for Trump's businesses, who appeared as the first witness in the trial. He told the judge that Trump withheld the statements from him, and failed to provide "paper documents over a number of years." He made claims that the then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and Trump sent him letters that they had 'not knowingly withheld from you any financial records or related data that in our judgment would be relevant to your compilation.' 

Trump's attorney Christopher Kise argued that his client, Donald Trump, 'made many billions of dollars being right about real estate investments' and built 'one of the most successful real estate empires in the world" and "one of the most successful brands".  Kise added, "There was no fraud, no false statements." Judge Arthur Engoron imposed a limited gag order on Trump, and told the participants in the fraud trial case not to smear court personnel, warning of "serious sanctions".

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Published October 4th, 2023 at 12:27 IST

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