Former President Trump denounced the civil fraud case over his business practices as a politically motivated “scam” as he arrived for a trial in the lawsuit, which could cost him control of Trump Tower and other prized properties. “This is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time,” he said as he made a voluntary trip to a New York court for a trial with high stakes for him, reports the Associated Press. “It’s a scam. It’s a sham,” Trump said, reiterating claims that New York Attorney General Letitia James’ suit is a politically motivated attempt to thwart his return to the White House. “What we have here is an attempt to hurt me in an election,” he charged, adding: “I don’t think the people of this country are going to stand for it.”
The suit accuses Trump and his company of deceiving banks, insurers and others by habitually lying about his wealth in financial statements. Judge Arthur Engoron already has ruled that Trump committed fraud. It is a non-jury trial, so Engoron will decide on six other claims in the lawsuit. James, a Democrat, is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York. The judge’s ruling last week, if upheld on appeal, could force Trump to give up New York properties including Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses and a suburban estate. Trump says that James and the judge are undervaluing such assets as Mar-a-Lago, and that it didn’t matter what he put on his financial statements because they have a disclaimer that says they shouldn’t be trusted. Before the trial Monday, James reiterated her position that Trump for years engaged in “persistent and repeated fraud.” “No matter how powerful you are, and no matter how much money you think you have, no one is above the law,” she said on her way into the courthouse. Trump isn’t expected to testify for several weeks.