Trump Hit With $350 Million Judgment In Civil Fraud Trial

Donald Trump owes the state of New York more than $350 million in damages for decades of fraudulent business practices in the state, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled Friday.

The judgment against Trump was announced by Judge Arthur Engoron.

Over the course of a 44-day civil trial, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office accused Trump of grossly exaggerating his wealth in order to secure favorable business loans by deceiving banks and insurers.

That includes overvaluing Mar-a-Lago by as much as 2,300%, for example, and falsely claiming his penthouse in Trump Tower was three times larger than it actually was.

James initially argued Trump and his affiliated businesses should disgorge $250 million, only to increase the figure to $370 million in a post-trial brief.

The amount is no arbitrary figure: The attorney general’s office estimates Trump’s fraud yielded at least to $168 million in illegal gains on his loan to purchase 40 Wall Street, $139 million related to the sale of the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., $60 million from the sale of Ferry Point golf club and $2.5 million in bonuses paid to accomplices.

Judge Arthur Engoron found in an earlier part of the trial that Trump had indeed committed fraud for years; all that remained was to tally up the damages.

“A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud,” Engoron concluded in his 35-page September ruling.

“In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies,” Engoron wrote. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media at a Washington hotel on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media at a Washington hotel on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.

Defense attorney Chris Kise blamed Trump’s accountants for the fraud, describing the case against his client as “manufactured to pursue a political agenda.”

“President Trump relied on multimillion-dollar accountants at Mazars,” Kise said in his closing statement. Kise suggested that, instead of punishing Trump, he “should get a medal” for his business acumen.

Mazars cut ties with Trump in 2022, warning at the time that the financial statements it prepared for Trump from 2011 through 2020 “should no longer be relied upon.”

While on the stand as a witness, Trump repeatedly pointed to what he called a “disclaimer clause” appended to those statements that he believed absolved him of all responsibility for their accuracy.

“We would call it a worthless statement clause,” he said at one point, seeking to diminish the value of the fraudulent documents. “They were not really documents that the banks paid much attention to.”

Engoron dismissed the argument in a pre-trial ruling.

“Defendants’ reliance on these ‘worthless’ disclaimers is worthless,” he wrote. “The ‘worthless clause’ does not say what the defendants say it says, does not rise to the level of an enforceable disclaimer, and cannot be used to insulate fraud.”

Over the course of the months-long trial, Trump complained frequently on social media about the lack of a jury, conveniently ignoring the fact that his lawyers hadn’t attempted to request one.

He also repeatedly called it a “hoax,” “unconstitutional” and a “witch hunt,” in addition to attacking Engoron and other court staffers on social media. Trump repeatedly violated a gag order intended to curtail those attacks, then demanded a mistrial, claiming in part that the order violated his First Amendment rights to free speech.

In additional attempts to dismiss the suit, Trump’s lawyers argued there wasn’t evidence that Trump’s actions had caused public harm and that the statute of limitations had expired for many of the allegations.

Trump declined to testify in his defense (despite claiming he would) and backed out of delivering his own closing argument after Engoron insisted that Trump address only the “relevant” matters of the case should he do so.

Trump will likely appeal the decision.

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