A new trial against Donald Trump will start later today in the United States. That may sound like déjà vu: it is not the first time the former president has appeared before a judge this year. Today is all about this and what exactly hangs over Trump’s head.
At 10 a.m. American time, a new trial against Donald Trump begins in New York. The former president and his family business are suspected of misleading banks and insurers for years by overestimating the value of his assets by billions. This allowed him to avoid millions in taxes, loans and insurance.
Fraud, that is, last week, Judge Arthur Engoron deemed the guilt of Trump and two of his sons sufficiently proven. They will now have to pay fines for that creative numerical work, and this process mainly revolves around the amount of those fines.
What consequences await Trump?
Unlike other ongoing lawsuits against Trump (including hush money, secret government documents and the storming of the Capitol), Trump does not have to fear prison time this time. This is not a criminal case but a civil lawsuit.
Yet the judge could strike Trump financially. The prosecutor in New York, Letitia James, is demanding a fine of 250 million dollars (about 236 million euros). She also wants a ban on Donald Trump and his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, from doing business in New York State and a five-year ban on commercial real estate transactions by Trump or his organization.
What will happen then to Trump’s business empire?
Judge Engoron has already ordered the permits to be cancelled to run ten of Trump’s most essential businesses. This also includes Trump Tower and its golf clubs in New York. Engoron says it will appoint independent trustees to oversee the “dissolution” of Trump’s business empire.
What that means in practice is not entirely clear. Trump’s empire is a tangle of more than five hundred companies and holding companies. This process will help determine in what form this can continue to exist. In any case, this only concerns the companies in New York State and not all branches outside of it.
How does Trump himself respond?
Trump again dismisses the case as a witch hunt but will personally defend himself today. He announced this last night on his social network Truth Social. “I will go to court tomorrow to fight for my name and reputation.” He calls the accusations “ridiculous and incorrect” and calls Engoron a “deranged” judge.
Trump’s lawyers question the prosecutor’s figures. According to them, these are based on “flawed accounting methods” that do not consider “Trump’s genius as an investor”.
The process starts today, but results will still have to wait a while. For now, an end date is only planned around early December. More than 150 witnesses will have been heard in court by then, including Donald Trump. However, tax experts, in particular, will shed light on the accuracy of the financial documents.