Former President Donald Trump made an appearance at the New York courthouse on Monday for the commencement of the civil fraud trial against him. This marked his first-ever address in a courtroom setting.
Earlier this year, Trump had abstained from attending another civil case in New York and had refrained from addressing the media during prior legal proceedings.
Security measures were heightened outside the courthouse in anticipation of Trump’s arrival. His convoy was spotted making its way from Midtown Manhattan to the courthouse located at 60 Centre Street. Although he reached the venue around 9:30 a.m., he delayed his entry.
Choosing a side entrance typically reserved for judiciary members, Trump addressed the media at 10 a.m., stating, “This is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.” He criticized the attorney general and the current administration’s Department of Justice, accusing them of bias against him. He emphasized the integrity of his financial statements and defended his business dealings with banks, asserting they had always been profitable for both parties.
Trump also expressed his belief that the case was a politically motivated attempt to tarnish his reputation ahead of potential electoral campaigns. He highlighted the timing of the case, suggesting it was strategically planned to coincide with his political activities.
The former president took to social media the night before the trial, criticizing New York Attorney General Letitia James and the presiding judge, Arthur Engoron. He reiterated his belief that the valuation of his Mar-a-Lago estate was grossly underestimated and accused the judge of disregarding a prior appellate court decision.
Alina Habba, Trump’s legal representative, echoed his sentiments, accusing the Democrats of using the case as a political weapon, given Trump’s popularity in polls against President Joe Biden.
The case, initiated by Attorney General Letitia James, seeks hefty penalties from Trump, his sons Eric and Donald Jr., and the Trump Organization, following a four-year-long investigation. The trial’s primary focus will be determining the penalties Trump owes, potentially leading to significant repercussions for the Trump Organization.
Justice Engoron’s recent decision to dissolve the Trump Organization and its associated entities raised several questions regarding the future of Trump’s properties, including the iconic Trump Tower.
Before the trial began, Attorney General James addressed the media, emphasizing her commitment to ensuring that the law applies uniformly to all, regardless of their status or wealth. She expressed confidence in the strength of her case against Trump, underscoring the importance of accountability in the face of fraud.