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NY’s Letitia James takes a Trump verdict victory lap after her often bizarre, 5-year war of words with Trump

In World
February 17, 2024
  • Trump’s fraud verdict caps a 5-year effort by NY Attorney General Letitia James.

  • Afterward, she called it a “massive victory” for “all Americans” who believe in the rule of law.

  • Trump’s attacks on James have ranged from head to toe, from insulting her sanity to her shoes.

From head to toe, quite literally, Donald Trump and his lawyers have attacked New York Attorney General Letitia James.

He’s questioned her sanity. One of his lawyers mocked her feet. To Trump, she’s a racist, a lunatic, and, perplexingly, “Letitia peek-a-boo James.”

But on Friday, James’ five-year pursuit of Trump and his company culminated in New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s punishing $364 million verdict.

And so she took a victory lap, calling the verdict a “massive victory,” and not just for her state, but for “every American” who believes in the rule of law.

“Today, we proved that no one is above the law,” she said in remarks following the verdict. “No matter how rich, powerful, or politically connected you are. Everyone must play by the same rules.

“And for years, Donald Trump engaged in deceptive business practices. And tremendous fraud,” she continued, repeating the judge’s findings.

“Donald Trump falsely, knowingly, inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, his family, and to cheat the system.

“Donald Trump may have authored ‘The Art of the Deal,’ she added, repeating a punchline from her September 2022 announcement that she had sued Trump over his frauds. “But he perfected ‘The Art of the Steal.'”

Watch Letitia James’ statement here.

Of the cash penalty, $355 million must be paid by Trump himself, with interest adding another $100 million more to the total, she predicted, a sum she said will increase with each day it’s unpaid.

James didn’t get everything she asked for from the judge. Engoron did not order that the Trump Organization’s state operating licenses be revoked, as she had requested.

James had also asked that Trump be permanently banned from running a New York business. Engoron kept that ban to three years. Likewise, where James had requested five-year bans on Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump, Engoron kept those to two years.

Ivanka Trump had been cut loose from James’ original lawsuit; in Friday’s verdict, Engoron said her spotty memory during her fraud-trial testimony was “suspect.”

Trump’s expected appeal will delay the state receiving any money, but the former president will still be required to set aside the cash through a surety bond that will ensure its availability should the verdict be upheld.

“The Corrupt Judge conspired with the Crooked Attorney General, Letitia James, and punished a liquid and beautiful Corporate Empire that started in New York, and has been successful all around the world,” Trump complained on Truth Social after the verdict.

James began investigating Trump and his Manhattan-headquartered company in March 2019, days after the then-president’s fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump had wildly exaggerated his net worth math for years.

She pursued him through two years of investigatory-subpoena battles, winning contempt findings that forced Trump to cough up documents and sit for depositions.

Throughout, the AG has given as good as she gets.

“No one is above the law” has become a mantra. She has criticized Trump and promised to hold him accountable so often that two years ago, defense lawyers used a spreadsheet to keep track of some 70 times she called him “illegitimate,” promised to “defeat” him, or otherwise took him on.

Then, in September 2023, James sued Trump, Trump Org, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and two executives who have since resigned, CFO Allen Weisselberg and Comptroller Jeffrey McConney.

During an October-through-December trial, James accused Trump of fraudulently inflating his wealth by as much as $3.6 billion a year in a decade’s worth of annual net-worth statements he used to pocket $168 million in loan-interest savings.

Trump had countered that his valuations were conservatively low.

Lawyers for his codefendants in the lawsuit — the Trump Organization, eldest sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, Weisselberg, and another longtime Trump Org executive, Jeffrey McConney — have also denied wrongdoing.

“Everyday Americans cannot lie to a bank about how much money they have in order to get a mortgage for a home,” James said in Friday night’s statement.

“The scale and the scope of Donald Trump’s fraud is staggering,” she said, echoing language in the verdict.

“And so too is his ego. And his belief that the rules do not apply to him. Today, we are holding Donald Trump accountable,” she said.

“We are holding him accountable for lying, cheating, and a lack of contrition. For flouting the rules that all of us must play by,” she said.

“Because there cannot be different rules for different people in this country, and former presidents are no exception.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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