Former United States President Donald Trump has said he will attend court in New York for the start of a civil trial in a case that has already resulted in a judge ruling that he committed fraud in his business dealings.
The trial is due to get under way on Monday, threatening Trump’s business empire as he campaigns for the White House with four criminal cases looming.
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“I’m going to Court tomorrow morning to fight for my name and reputation,” Trump wrote on Sunday night on his Truth Social platform.
The 77-year-old lashed out at New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing him, and Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the non-jury trial and ruled last week that Trump and his sons Eric and Don Jr had been inflating the value of the Trump Organization’s property and financial assets for years.
“THIS WHOLE CASE IS SHAM!!!” Trump wrote. “See you in Court – Monday morning.”
Trump’s visit to court on Monday will mark a departure from his usual practice. He did not attend court as either a witness or a spectator when his company and one of its top executives were convicted of tax fraud last year. Nor did he go to court during a trial earlier this year in which a jury found him liable for sexually assaulting the writer E Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room.
Trump also faces several major criminal trials in the months ahead.
He is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Washington, DC on March 4, on charges of trying to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden.
After that, Trump will be back in New York state court, this time on criminal hush money charges, and later in a Florida federal court, where he is accused of mishandling classified documents after leaving office.
Finally, he will also have to answer to state charges in Georgia, where prosecutors say Trump illegally tried to get the southern state’s 2020 election results changed in his favour.
Business licences revoked
In the New York civil case, Engoron ruled that Trump, his two eldest sons and other executives lied to tax collectors, lenders and insurers to exaggerate the value of their properties by $812m to $2.2bn between 2014 and 2021.
As a result, the judge revoked the business licences that allowed the Trump Organization to operate some of its New York properties.
Actually enforcing such penalties would be “a major blow to Donald Trump’s ability to do business in the State of New York going forward,” Will Thomas, a professor of business law at the University of Michigan, told the AFP news agency.
According to James, the New York attorney general, Trump’s apartment is among the spaces that were fraudulently overvalued by being listed as three times bigger than its true size.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida – the site of the classified documents drama – and several of his golf clubs are also part of James’s complaint.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the New York civil allegations.
There are likely to be dozens of witnesses called to testify at the trial, including Trump himself, although that might not happen for several weeks.
Engoron has said the trial could continue into December.