Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Trump denounces

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The former American president risks a lot in this trial for fraud in the State of New York, even if he does not face prison.

Agence France-Presse

Donald Trump returned Thursday for the final stretch of his civil trial in New York for financial fraud, obliged however to let his lawyers plead his defense in the courtroom, even if he still denounced in the corridors an “electoral interference” in the middle of the campaign for the 2024 presidential election.

The former tenant of the White House, who dreams of returning there, is accused along with his sons Eric and Donald Jr of having colossally inflated during the 2010s the value of the skyscrapers, luxury hotels or golf courses at the heart of their empire, the Trump Organization, to obtain more favorable loans from banks and better insurance conditions.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who filed a civil complaint in the fall of 2022 for financial fraud, is seeking US$370 million in compensation.

Since the trial began on October 2, the 77-year-old billionaire and tribune has railed against justice in each of his appearances in the courtroom or in the corridors of the Manhattan courthouse, denouncing a political witch hunt or a trial worthy of a banana republic.

Donald Trump facing justice

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Donald Trump faces justice

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Returning to the civil court on Thursday, he once again thundered in front of the press against political interference, electoral interference at the highest level and a very unfair trial. For three months, the Trump clan's lawyers have considered the case legally empty.

One ​​of them, Chris Kise, admitted Thursday of possible unintentional errors in Mr. Trump's financial statements, but without it being necessary to conclude that there was fraud.

But the favorite in the Republican Party primaries which open on January 15 in Iowa wanted to ensure his own defense. Me Kise thus wrote to court judge Arthur Engoron at the beginning of January to inform him of the wishes of his eminent client.

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Judge Arthur F. Engoron presides over Trump Organization fraud civil trial, at the New York State Supreme Court since its inception last November. (File photo)

According to an exchange of emails included in the legal file and consulted by AFP, on the advisability and conditions of such an exceptional request, the magistrate on Wednesday issued a sharp refusal to accept. /p>

He didn't want to risk Mr. Trump delivering a campaign speech in the courtroom.

Mr. Kise initially tried to have the plea postponed to January 29 by arguing that Donald Trump's mother-in-law had died on Tuesday and that he was very close to her.

Request rejected by the judge who set an ultimatum on Wednesday for Donald Trump to be able to speak under conditions: Take it or leave it. It's now or never. You have until noon, in seven minutes. I WILL NOT GIVE ANY ADDITIONAL DELAY.

A quarter of an hour later, the judge ruled: the former president will not speak in court on Thursday.

A sign of the tense climate, police in Nassau County, on the Long Island peninsula, east of New York, confirmed that Judge Engoron's home had been raided. an unfounded bomb threat threat.

In front of the courthouse, under the surveillance of a helicopter, some demonstrators chanted no dictator in the United States.

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Demonstrators regularly move in front of the New York Supreme Court, where Donald Trump and his sons have been on trial for fraud since November. (Archive photo)

At the hearing, Donald Trump violently attacked the judge's team , to the Attorney General, and the magistrate imposed two fines totaling US$15,000.

Unlike the criminal trials that await him this year, including that for his alleged maneuvers aimed at reversing the result of the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump does not risk prison in this civil case.

But he plays big.

Even before the trial, Judge Engoron estimated at the end of September that the prosecution presented conclusive evidence that between 2014 and 2021, the defendants overvalued the group's assets by 812 million (to) 2.2 billion US dollars over the years, in Donald Trump's financial documents.

As a result of repeated fraud, he ordered the liquidation of the companies managing his assets, like the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue or the 40 Wall Street skyscraper in Manhattan.

Measures suspended on appeal, however.

The trial focuses on other crimes, such as insurance fraud, and financial penalties sought by the New State Attorney General's Office York, which is now asking for 370 million US dollars, far from the 250 million in the 2022 complaint.

Judge Engoron remains to close the proceedings and to determine the amount of damage and reparations.

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