AG Letitia James strikes back at ‘the Donald Trump show’

New York’s attorney general responds to the former president’s attacks after he leaves his fraud trial

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 04 October 2023 20:29 BST
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Letitia James condemns 'the Donald Trump show' as former president leaves fraud trial

Donald Trump has left New York City after spending two and a half days in a Manhattan courtroom for a trial that could capsize his business empire.

In the hallway outside the courtroom and in statements on his social media platform, the former president repeatedly insulted the judge presiding over the case stemming from a multi-million dollar lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James, whom Mr Trump has routinely labelled a “racist” and “corrupt”.

“The Donald Trump Show is over,” Ms James told reporters in the hall of the third floor courtroom inside the New York Supreme Court building on 4 October. “This was nothing more than a political stunt, a fundraising stop.”

Judge Arthur Engoron hit Mr Trump with a gag order for his social media posts and hallway statements about a court clerk, but the former president has continued to attack Ms James as a “deranged lunatic” and a “political animal”.

The former president’s comments were “offensive, they were baseless, they were devoid of any facts [and] any evidence,” she said. “They were comments that unfortunately fomented violence, comments that I would describe as race-baiting, comments that unfortunately appeal to the bottom of our humanity.”

Her case against Mr Trump, his adult sons and chief associates alleges a years-long scheme of defrauding banks and insurers by overvaluing properties to fraudulently obtain benefits based on his grossly exaggerated net worth and assets.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks to reporters on 4 October during a break in a trial stemming from her lawsuit against Donald Trump and his business empire.

A surprise summary judgment from Judge Engoron last week determined that no trial was necessary to determine that Mr Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent, allowing a bench trial to move forward that will address what damages, if any, Mr Trump should have to pay, in addition to reviewing six other claims in Ms James’s blockbuster lawsuit.

In his ruling, Judge Engoron ordered that the former president’s business licences be rescinded, effectively upending his abilities to do business in the state. An independent monitor also could be appointed to oversee compliance with the order and Mr Trump’s operations and liabilities to lenders, insurers and others.

“This case was brought simply because it was a case where individuals had engaged in a pattern and practise of fraud,” Ms James said on Wednesday.

“I will not sit idly by and allow anyone to subvert the law,” she added. “Lastly, I will not be bullied. … We are confident justice will be served.”

The former president could face other court sanctions for similar statements and rhetoric targeting the other prosecutors and officials overseeing the four criminal cases against him.

US Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith has requested a partial gag order to restrict his statements surrounding a federal case alleging Mr Trump’s criminal attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election. The judge presiding over that case will hold a hearing on the request later this month.

Mr Trump knows that “when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets,” according to the request from the special counsel.

He continues those attacks “precisely because he knows that in doing so, he is able to roil the public and marshal and prompt his supporters,” the filing states.

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