Oct 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

NY AG James calls Trump's voluntary court appearances a “political stunt”

New York Attorney General Letitia James blasted as a "political stunt" former President Trump's voluntary appearances and violent rhetoric in the civil fraud trial against him.

Why it matters: Trump, who appeared angry and spoke each day to reporters, excoriated James, the case and the presiding judge — offering a potential preview into a combative 2024 campaign as the former president remains ensnared in legal woes.

  • Trump, who appeared during the trial's first three days despite not being required to, said publicly earlier this week that he would testify in the case at "the appropriate time."
  • James filed a $250 million lawsuit against Trump, his two eldest sons and his business last fall, alleging he inflated his net worth for years.

What they're saying: "Trump's comments were offensive. They were baseless. They were void of any facts and/or any evidence," James said during the third day of the trial on Wednesday.

  • "What they were were comments that unfortunately fomented violence; comments that I would describe as race-baiting; comments, unfortunately, that appeal to the bottom of our humanity."
  • "And lastly, I will not be bullied," she said, after defending her reasoning for bringing the case. "The Donald Trump show is over. This was nothing more than a political stunt, a fundraising stop."

Between the lines: Trump has made a political spectacle out of the four criminal indictments he's faced this year, putting them at the center of his presidential campaign.

Yes, but: It's costly to fight the law, and Trump's legal fees are mounting.

Catch up quick: On Tuesday, Arthur Engoron, the judge overseeing the case, imposed a gag order on Trump and rebuked him after he attacked Engoron's law clerk in a now-deleted social media post while sitting across from her in the same courtroom.

  • Engoron last week issued a pre-trial ruling that all defendants committed fraud by helping Trump exaggerate his net worth on financial records and used the inflated figures used business transactions.
  • James' office has accused Trump of ballooning his worth by between $812 million to $2.2 billion from 2011 to 2021.

What's next: Engoron will determine in the no-jury trial the amount of damages Trump owes.

  • While he campaigns for the GOP presidential nomintion, the future of his New York business empire is also on the line.
  • The trial could run through late December.

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