As the civil fraud trial against Donald Trump unfolds in New York, the former president’s legal troubles continue to mount. New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to impose a $250 million fine on Trump.
According to RawStory on Monday, October 9, she is also pushing for a permanent ban on Trump family members running any businesses in New York. This trial has the potential to cast a shadow over the future of the Trump Organization.
Trump voluntarily attended the initial three days of the trial, during which he verbally attacked Attorney General Letitia James for initiating the fraud case against him. His comments escalated to accusations of racism against James and disparaging remarks about the trial judge, Arthur Engoron.
The trial revolves around allegations that Trump and his two eldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr., significantly inflated the assets of their company, thus misleading investors and lenders. This pretrial ruling has the potential to jeopardize the Trump Organization’s real estate empire.
David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author of multiple books on Trump, including “The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family,” emphasizes that although this civil trial does not carry the risk of incarceration like his criminal trials, it poses a significant threat to Trump due to his close association with his wealth.
Johnston clarifies that “Donald Trump is his money.” Trump’s penchant for inflating his wealth has been a recurring theme throughout his business career, and this trial is centered on determining how much Trump must disgorge because of his fraudulent actions.
Unlike his other legal troubles, such as the sexual assault case involving E. Jean Carroll, where he did not attend the trial, Trump has been a notable presence at this trial.
The judge revoked all of Trump’s business licenses, including those held by the Trump Organization and its hundreds of legal entities, primarily limited liability companies.
These entities can no longer conduct business without licenses. A retired judge has been appointed as a monitor to ensure Trump and his sons do not dissipate any funds until the court determines the extent of their liability.
Ultimately, the Trump Organization, with its vast portfolio of properties, could end up in the hands of a receiver, and its properties sold off to settle debts. Creditors and the government will have priority in claiming proceeds, with any remaining funds going to Donald Trump.
One property under scrutiny is Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, which Trump has notoriously inflated in size, along with its value. The trial seeks to determine the extent of his overvaluation, a pattern that extends to other properties as well.
In the context of this trial, Trump’s behavior has resulted in a gag order from the judge, making him the first former president to face such a restriction.
Violating this order could lead to his remand to custody, a situation Trump may see as an opportunity to rally his supporters and portray himself as a victim of a rigged system.
While Trump’s legal battles are multifaceted, this civil fraud trial, due to its potential impact on his wealth and business empire, holds a special significance for the former president.