Trump to attend his New York fraud trial in person

Former President Donald Trump has announced that he will be present at the opening days of his civil fraud trial in New York, where he and his business empire are accused of inflating the value of their assets for financial gain. The trial, which is scheduled to start on Monday, October 2, 2023, is the result of a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is seeking to dissolve the Trump Organization and ban Trump and his children from running any business in the state.

Trump’s surprise move

Trump’s plan to attend the trial in person was revealed by his lawyers in a separate case, where he is suing his former personal attorney Michael Cohen for defamation and breach of confidentiality. Trump’s lawyers asked to postpone a deposition in that case, which was scheduled for Tuesday in Florida, so that Trump could travel to New York and participate in the trial. According to court filings, Trump intends to be present for at least the first week of the trial.

The move is surprising, as Trump is not obligated to personally attend the trial, which is a civil case, not a criminal one. Moreover, Trump has repeatedly insulted and attacked the judge overseeing the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, on his social media platform. Trump has called Engoron a “deranged, Trump hating judge” who “railroaded this fake case through a NYS court at a speed never before seen”. He has also accused James of conducting a “witch hunt” against him and his family.

Trump to attend his New York fraud trial in person

The allegations against Trump

The lawsuit against Trump and his business empire stems from an investigation launched by James in 2019, after Cohen testified before Congress that Trump had manipulated the value of his assets for various purposes, such as obtaining loans, insurance, and tax benefits. James alleges that Trump and his company engaged in “persistent fraud” by inflating and deflating the value of their properties, golf courses, and other assets over several years.

On Tuesday, Engoron issued a ruling that granted James much of what she has sought in the case. He concluded that there was sufficient evidence to show that Trump and his company had made false or misleading statements about their assets to financial institutions, insurers, tax authorities, and potential business partners. He also rejected most of the arguments raised by Trump’s lawyers to dismiss or limit the case.

However, the trial is still expected to proceed on some unresolved issues, such as whether Trump and his company acted with intent to defraud or deceive, and what remedies should be imposed if they are found liable. James is seeking to dissolve the Trump Organization and ban Trump and his children Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric from serving as directors or officers of any business in New York for 10 years. She is also seeking restitution and penalties for the alleged fraud.

The impact of the trial

The trial is likely to have significant political and legal implications for Trump, who has hinted at running for president again in 2024. The trial will expose him to intense public scrutiny and potential embarrassment, as he will have to face questions and evidence about his business practices and financial dealings. The trial will also coincide with other legal challenges that Trump is facing, such as criminal investigations in New York and Georgia over his tax returns and election interference.

Trump’s presence at the trial will also create logistical and security challenges for the court and the city. The last time he showed up at a New York courthouse, for his arraignment in April on criminal charges related to hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, his arrival caused traffic jams and disruptions in lower Manhattan. He was also greeted by protesters and supporters outside the courthouse.

The trial is expected to last several weeks, with dozens of witnesses and thousands of documents to be presented by both sides. It is unclear whether Trump will testify in his own defense or how long he will stay in New York. His lawyers have not commented on his decision to attend the trial.

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