Donald Trump's Business Empire in Peril as Civil Fraud Trial Opens in New York

Former US President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, ahead of his appearance in a civil fraud trial in New York City, US, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan
Former US President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, ahead of his appearance in a civil fraud trial in New York City, US, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan
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Donald Trump's Business Empire in Peril as Civil Fraud Trial Opens in New York

Former US President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, ahead of his appearance in a civil fraud trial in New York City, US, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan
Former US President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, ahead of his appearance in a civil fraud trial in New York City, US, October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan

Donald Trump and his family business are set to stand trial in New York on Monday in a civil fraud case that could deal a major blow to the former US president’s real estate empire.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is accused by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James of inflating the value of his assets by billions of dollars to secure better loan and insurance terms.
Trump plans to attend the first week of trial in state court in Manhattan, according to a court filing in an unrelated case.
The trial comes a week after the judge presiding over the case found Trump liable for fraud and will largely concern the penalties he must face, Reuters said.
James is seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York and a five-year restriction on commercial real estate activities by Trump and his flagship Trump Organization.
Trump has said the case is part of a political witch hunt.
Justice Arthur Engoron ruled last week that James had proven her fraud case against Trump, his two adult sons and 10 of his companies.
Engoron described in scathing terms how they made up valuations. That included Trump calculating the value of his apartment in Trump Tower as if it were three times its actual size.
"A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space for decades, can only be considered fraud," he said.
Engoron canceled business certificates for companies controlling pillars of Trump’s empire -- including Trump Tower and his golf clubs in New York -- and said he would appoint receivers to oversee their dissolution.
The ruling covers only a handful of the roughly 500 entities in Trump's portfolio but includes some of his most valuable properties. The specifics of how that order will be implemented have not been decided, but the loss of those prized assets would be a major blow to Trump's finances. If Engoron tacks on fines and business restrictions, that damage would compound.
The trial is scheduled to run through early December. More than 150 people including Trump are listed as potential witnesses, but much of the trial will likely be a battle of experts opining on financial documents.
James alleges Trump reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten savings by "grossly" inflating the values of his assets to get better deals from lenders and insurers.
That included listing his Mar-a-Lago club and residence in Florida as being worth up to $739 million even though deed restrictions capped it at $28 million, James said.
The case is one of several legal headaches Trump faces as he campaigns to retake the White House in the 2024 election. None have dented his commanding lead over rivals for the Republican nomination, though they have been a financial drain.
Trump, the first sitting or former US president to be criminally charged, is under indictment in four separate cases.
He has been charged in Florida over his handling of classified documents upon leaving office, in Washington D.C. in his efforts to undo his loss in the 2020 presidential election, in Georgia over moves to reverse the election results in that state and in New York in hush money payments he made to a porn star.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in all four cases.



Trump Mocks Democrats in First Campaign Rally after Assassination Attempt

Donald Trump and Sen. J.D. Vance, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 20, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Brenner Purchase Licensing Rights
Donald Trump and Sen. J.D. Vance, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 20, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Brenner Purchase Licensing Rights
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Trump Mocks Democrats in First Campaign Rally after Assassination Attempt

Donald Trump and Sen. J.D. Vance, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 20, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Brenner Purchase Licensing Rights
Donald Trump and Sen. J.D. Vance, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 20, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Brenner Purchase Licensing Rights

Donald Trump held his first campaign rally on Saturday since he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt one week ago, poking fun at Democrats in turmoil at a heavily secured indoor arena in the election battleground state of Michigan, Reuters reported.

Fresh from his nominating convention where his takeover of the Republican Party was cemented, Trump appeared in Grand Rapids with his new vice presidential pick, Senator J.D. Vance from Ohio. They took the stage in their first campaign event together with the Republican Party unified behind them.

In contrast, it is no longer certain that President Joe Biden will be the Democratic Party's nominee facing Trump in the Nov. 5 election.

Biden has faced calls from some senior Democrats to end his re-election bid after his poor debate performance last month raised concerns over whether he could beat Trump or complete another four-year term.

Trump mocked Democrats, saying they wanted to kick Biden off the ticket after he won their presidential nominating contest.

"They have a couple of problems. No. 1, they have no idea who their candidate is," Trump said to laughter and jeers. "This guy goes and he gets the votes and now they want to take it away."

"As you're seeing, the Democrat Party is not the party of democracy. They're really the enemies of democracy."

He added: "And they keep saying, 'He's a threat to democracy.' I'm saying, 'What the hell did I do for democracy?'

Last week, I took a bullet for democracy."

Opinion polls show a tight race between the two men at a national level but Biden trailing Trump in the battleground states that will likely determine the winner.

Many Democrats fear he may not have a realistic path to victory and that the party needs a new candidate to take on Trump.

There was a heavy police presence at Trump's rally in Grand Rapids on Saturday, with police on every street corner for several blocks.

US Secret Service officers were positioned on the top balconies in the Van Andel Arena, giving them a bird's eye view of the crowd inside.

Bag searches for those entering the indoor arena earlier in the day were long and thorough, and the Secret Service sweep of the building took about an hour longer than usual.

The rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, last weekend was outdoors. At that event, the gunman was able to scale the roof of a building outside the Secret Service perimeter before opening fire on Trump, clipping his ear, killing a rally-goer and wounding several others.

The Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting Trump, declined to comment on security for the Grand Rapids event. An investigation is under way into the security failures at the Butler rally.

Trump gave a detailed account of his narrow brush with death in his convention speech on Thursday, telling the audience that he was only talking to them "by the grace of Almighty God."

Trump's former physician, Ronny Jackson, said on Saturday that the former president is recovering as expected from the gunshot wound to his right ear, but noted intermittent bleeding and said Trump may require a hearing exam.

The bullet fired by the would-be assassin at the July 13 rally in Pennsylvania came "less than a quarter of an inch from entering his head," said Jackson, a Republican congressman from Texas who had served as physician to Presidents Trump and Barack Obama.