Former President Donald Trump arrived in New York City on Monday for the beginning of his civil trial following a district judge’s ruling that he did commit business fraud.
The trial is centered on allegations by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office that Trump and his business organization committed fraud by overvaluing his assets to investors to obtain better loan and insurance conditions, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Judge Arthur Engoron settled the central claim last week in a partial summary judgment where he agreed that Trump committed fraud, and the trial will now be based on the remaining six claims in the lawsuit, which include allegations of conspiracy, falsifying business records, and insurance fraud.
Kevin Wallace, an attorney from James’ office, began the trial with opening remarks and claimed that Trump and his business were “lying year after year after year.”
“They hid their weaknesses and convinced these banks to take on hundreds of millions of dollars in risk,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “While the defendants can exaggerate to Forbes magazine or on television, they cannot do it while conducting business in the state of New York.”
James echoed these claims on her way into the courthouse on Monday, saying, “No matter how powerful you are, and no matter how much money you think you have, no one is above the law,” per the AP.
On the other hand, Trump expressed his view of the trial while entering the courthouse, claiming it is “a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.”
“It’s a scam. It’s a sham,” he added, per AP.
During the first day’s lunch break, Trump said Engoron is a “rogue judge” and a “Trump-hater” and James is a “corrupt” and “terrible” person, as reported by NBC News.
If an appeals court upholds Engoron’s ruling from last week, Trump would be barred from doing business in New York and required to give up multiple properties in the state, ramifications which Trump has called “a corporate death penalty,” according to AP.
Due to the trial’s significance, the New York State Unified Court System has increased security for those involved.
“Our judicial threat unit constantly monitors all forms of media and maintains a high level of situational awareness regarding security for all judges. Additionally, Court Officers have been on a heightened state of readiness, and officers have been cautioned to remain alert and vigilant both inside courthouses and while on perimeter patrols,” wrote a spokesperson for the system in a statement to CNN.
Trump is not expected to testify for multiple weeks, and Engoron has said that this trial could take three months to complete.
In addition to Trump, his sons Eric and Donald Jr. and his eldest daughter Ivanka have all been placed on the witness list and could be called to testify, as reported by NPR.