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Trump says his $355m fraud penalty is ‘a form of Navalny’

The former president said that the ruling by New York judge Arthur Engoron was ‘a form of communism or fascism’

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Wednesday 21 February 2024 14:02 GMT
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Trump says his $355m fraud penalty is ‘a form of Navalny’

Donald Trump has said that being hit with a $350m judgement following his recent high profile fraud case was “a form of Navalny,” in reference to the jailing and apparent murder of the late Russian dissident.

The former president said that the ruling by New York judge Arthur Engoron – who he described as a “nut job” – was “a form of communism or fascism”.

On Friday, Judge Engoron found that Mr Trump, his sons, their Trump Organization associates and Trump properties were liable for tens of millions of dollars after defraudng banks and investors as part of a decade-long scheme to secure favourable financing terms for some of his brand-building properties.

Mr Trump — as well as his companies and his trust — were ordered to pay more than $350m, plus interest, while his sons were each ordered to pay roughly $4m.

Mr Trump took part in a town hall event, hosted by Fox News, in Greenville, South Carolina on Tuesday. During the event he was asked about his various ongoing court cases, as well as the shocking death of Alexei Navalny, a long-time political critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said that Western claims that Mr Putin was responsible are unacceptable.

Trump says his $355m fraud penalty is ‘a form of Navalny’ (Getty Images)

Mr Trump – who expressed admiration for Mr Putin during his 2017-2021 White House tenure and afterward – previously said in a post on his platform TruthSocial that the death of Navalny had made him “aware of what was happening in our Country”.

Mr Trump took part in a town hall event, hosted by Fox News, in Greenville, South Carolina on Tuesday (AP)

Asked about Navalny’s death on Tuesday evening, he replied: “It’s a very sad situation and he was very brave.

“He was a very brave guy because he went back [to Russia], he could have stayed away, and frankly, probably would have been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country as opposed to having to go back in because people thought that could happen, and it did happen.”

However, he was quick to compare the news to his own situation, adding: “It’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country too.

“We are turning into a communist country in many ways, and if you look at it, I’m the leading candidate. I’d never heard of being indicted before, I got indicted four times, I have eight or nine trials – all because of the fact that I’m in politics.”

The former president was also asked if felt like he was at risk of becoming a “political prisoner”, following the multiple lawsuits being brought against him. He once again singled out the judgement handed down by Mr Engoron.

“It’s a form of Navalny,” he said, adding “It is a form of communism or fascism. The guy [Mr Engoron] is a nut job. I’ve known this for a long time and I’ve said it openly.

Trump speaks with moderator Laura Ingraham of Fox News (AP)

“No jury, no anything. Letitia James is a horrible Attorney General in New York, [she] campaigned on ‘I will get Trump. I will get Trump’. We went through a trial. It turned out we’re totally innocent on everything and he fined me $355 million plus interest.”

Despite Mr Trump’s brief praise of Navalny on Tuesday, the Russian activist had been less reciprocal – having issued a chilling warning about what a second presidential term for Mr Trump could mean in one of his final letters before he died.

According to The New York Times, which collected together some of the late Russian dissident’s correspondence from jail, Navalny described the prospect as “really scary”.

In one 3 December letter to Evgeny Feldman, a photographer who covered his attempted run for president in 2018 and now lives in exile in Latvia, Navalny wrote that he feared that if anything should happen to President Joe Biden – a distinct possibility, he felt, given the American’s advanced age – “Trump will become president”.

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