WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Moments before entering a New York courtroom to begin a bench trial on business fraud, former President Donald Trump defiantly called the fraud case against him part of “the single greatest witch hunt of all time.”
The fraud charges could cost Trump control of some of his prized properties and as much as a $250 million fine.
Trump also lashed out at New York Attorney General Leticia James, who brought the case against him for lying about his wealth in financial statements to banks, insurers and others.
“We have a racist attorney general who’s a horror show,” Trump said.
And he blasted Judge Arthur Engoron, who ruled on part of the case last week that Trump committed fraud for years by overvaluing or undervaluing his assets.
“He’s a Democrat operative,” Trump said of the judge.
This is a high stakes civil trial that could strip Trump of control of Trump Tower and other properties. In 2018 Trump valued his Mar-a-Lago estate at about $739 million. Prosecutors say that was about 20 times more than it was actually worth.
James, for her part, said the cases send a simple message.
“Donald Trump and the other defendants committed persistent and repeated fraud,” she said outside the court. “No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law.”
Trump insists he’s done nothing wrong.
“What we have here,” he said, “is an attempt to hurt me in an election.”
The trial could last through the end of the year. James is seeking a $250 million fine.