Former United States president Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on New York’s attorney general and a state judge, accusing them of conducting a political witch-hunt against him and his family in a civil fraud trial that began this week.
Trump, who is facing legal battles on multiple fronts, including criminal charges of trying to overthrow the 2020 election results, appeared in court on Tuesday for the second day of the trial, along with his sons Eric and Don Jr.
The trial stems from a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Letitia James, who is seeking $250 million in penalties and the removal of Trump and his sons from management of the Trump Organization, their family business empire.
James alleges that Trump and his sons committed fraud by inflating the value of their real estate and financial assets for years to deceive tax authorities, lenders and insurers.
The trial comes after New York Judge Arthur Engoron already ruled that Trump and his sons lied about the value of their properties by $812 million to $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021.
The judge also revoked the business licenses that allowed the Trump Organization to operate some of its New York properties, a move known as the “corporate death penalty.”
Trump, who is leading the field of Republican primary candidates ahead of the 2024 election, called James “very corrupt” and “grossly incompetent” before entering the courtroom on Tuesday.
He also branded Engoron a “rogue” Democratic judge who should be “disbarred” for ruling against him.
He said that the trial was a “sham” intended to torpedo his bid to recapture the White House next year and called James, who is African American, “racist.”
He said that he and his sons were innocent and that they had done nothing wrong.
Trump, who made his reputation and fortune as a real estate mogul in the 1980s, could lose control over many of his company’s flagship properties, such as Trump Tower on Manhattan’s iconic 5th Avenue.
The New York case is the first of a number of upcoming trials for the former president.
Trump is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Washington on March 4, 2024 on charges of trying to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump will then be back in New York state court, this time on charges of paying hush money to a porn star, and later in a federal court in Florida, where he is accused of mishandling classified documents after leaving office.
Finally, he will also have to answer to state charges in Georgia, where prosecutors say Trump illegally tried to get the southern state’s 2020 election results changed in his favor.