Furious Trump responds after judge orders him to pay over $350m in fraud case

Former president claimed ruling was result of a targeted political ‘witch hunt’

Ariana Baio,Io Dodds
Saturday 17 February 2024 01:28 GMT
Trump appears in courtroom as civil fraud trial continues

Former president Donald Trump has blasted the decision in his New York civil fraud trial, groundlessly accusing the judge who ruled against him of conspiring with the state government to sink his election campaign.

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled on Friday that Mr Trump, his family, and his sprawling real estate empire must pay nearly $464m for fraudulent business dealings.

In a series of posts on his social network Truth Social that afternoon, the former president called the decision a “witch hunt” and a form of “election interference”, while referring to Mr Engoron as “crooked”.

He followed up with a meandering address from the steps of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in which he insisted that there was "no fraud" and bizarrely boasted of filing "one of the greatest financial statements" ever.

He was, he said, being punished "for having built a perfect company – great cash, great buildings, great everything", while offering no evidence for his sweeping claims of judicial corruption.

Watch Trump's ranting response to $350 fine over illegal business dealings

"This is Russia, this is China, this is the same game... it's a witch hunt against [a] political opponent the likes of which our country has never seen before,” Mr Trump said. “You see it in third world countries, banana republics, but you don't see it here."

He vowed to appeal against the "ridiculous" verdict, which requires him to pay back just under $355m plus $100m in interest to date.

"ELECTION INTERFERENCE. WITCH HUNT," he said, calling the decision a case of "shocking and corrupt interference in the free market for political gain" and a “complete and total sham”.

The former president claimed there were no victims, damages or complaints resulting from the years-long financial fraud he conspired in.

Instead, he said it “satisfied” banks and insurance companies – a point which Mr Trump’s lawyers made throughout the trial.

His statements on Friday were of a piece with his long history of attacks on Mr Engoron and New York attorney general Letitia James, which continued throughout the trial despite rebukes from the judge.

Mr Engoron spent months hearing testimony and evidence regarding the case, which was brought by Ms James's office two years ago.

Ultimately, he ruled that the allegations against Mr Trump’s company had been “proven over and over again”, saying the defendants had showed a “complete lack of contrition and remorse” that “borders on pathological”.

This story was updated at 5:24pm Pacific Time on Friday 16 February 2024 to add details of Mr Trump’s press conference at Mar-a-Lago.

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