Trump claims he's the victim of a witch hunt, deserves damages


Donald Trump launched into a tirade Thursday about the civil fraud case that threatens to put him out of business in New York, not waiting for the judge's permission before diving into a list of grievances.

"This is a political witch hunt, and that should be set aside," Trump said in the New York state Supreme Court. "We should receive damages for what we went through."

Trump may be forced to pay $370 million and a lifetime ban from the real estate industry in New York, along with his existing "corporate death penalty" ordered before trial began to shut down his businesses.

Before closing arguments began, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron rescinded permission for Trump to speak in court after the former president refused to abide by the ground rules. Trump's lead attorney Christopher Kise asked the judge to reconsider that decision shortly before the lunch break.

Engoron then asked Trump whether he would keep his remarks to the facts and the evidence.

Trump did not wait for permission to launch into a speech claiming he's being "persecuted."

"We have a situation where I’m an innocent man," Trump complained. "I’m being persecuted by a man who’s running for office."

New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the case against Trump, which is under state not federal jurisdiction, and there is no evidence linking it to President Joe Biden.

In September, Engoron found that Trump inflated his assets on statements of financial condition between $812 million and $2.2 billion dollars every year between 2014 and 2021. But Trump claims that he is the one who's wrong.

"This is a fraud on me," Trump told the judge. "What’s happened here, sir, is a fraud on me."

The judge's prior ruling imposed the corporate death penalty on any New York business belonging to Trump, his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and ex-business associates Jeffrey McConney and Allen Weisselberg, who are all defendants in the case. That decree ordered corporations underpinning those properties dissolved, including the eponymous Trump Organization that runs hotels, golf courses, residential properties and a branding operation around the globe.

A litany of personal grievances, Trump's speech appeared to ignore every ground rule Engoron laid out in an email laying out the conditions for his remarks.

In an email earlier this week, Engoron ordered Trump to keep his "commentary on the relevant, material facts that are in evidence, and application of the relevant law to those facts."

"He may not seek to introduce new evidence," Engoron wrote in that email. "He may not 'testify.' He may not comment on irrelevant matters. In particular, and without limitation, he may not deliver a campaign speech, and he may not impugn myself, my staff, plaintiff, plaintiff's staff, or the New York State Court System, none of which is relevant to this case, and all of which , except commenting on my staff, can be done, and is being done, in other forums."

Apparently flouting the prohibition against testifying, Trump claimed to have had a conversation with an executive from Zurich — one of the insurance companies at issue in the case — telling him the corporation wasn't defrauded.

Engoron, narrowing his eyes on the former president, silently allowed the speech to proceed and then interjected after Trump claimed he never had a problem.

"You said you never had a problem. Haven’t you been sued before?" the judge asked.

"I’ve been sued," Trump replied

"Isn’t that a problem?" Engoron shot back.

Trump told the judge that he cannot listen, and the exchange ended with the judge calling a lunch recess. 

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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