Trump ‘gagged’ by new order in $370mn civil fraud trial

Former US President Donald Trump was handed a limited “Gag Order” from the appeals court even as he appeared in courts here in two different cases. — IANS

TN Ashok

New York, Jan 17 (IANS) Former US President Donald Trump was handed a limited “Gag Order” from the appeals court even as he appeared in courts here in two different cases as the lower Manhattan NY Attorney General Letita James launched her closing arguments in the civil fraud trial upping the damage claims to $370 million from the earlier $250 million.

Trump had appealed the gag order issued by the Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron to the appeals court which struck it down upholding the gag order, media reports said.

Closing her arguments against Trump for inflating assets values to secure loans illegally and obtain lower insurance premiums while upping the penalty charges, New York AG Letitia James told judge Arthur Engoron and the jurors that her case was never about politics or vendetta or about name calling.

“This case is about the facts and the law and Trump violated the laws,” she said.

Trump has been maintaining that the trial was politically motivated, and that incumbent President Joe Biden had launched a “political witch hunt” against him using the democrat AG James. But facts show that Biden was not even president when James filed the case.

“This case has never been about politics, personal vendetta, or about name calling. This case is about the facts and the law, and Donald Trump violated the law,” James said.

James thanked her team, the judge, and Trump’s lawyers before repeating her confidence that “justice will be done” in the case.

“No matter how powerful you are, no matter how rich you are, no one is above the law,” she said.

Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $370 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.

Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives were accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engineering a decade-long scheme in which they used “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate Trump’s net worth in order get more favorable loans.

The trial follows the judge Engoron’s partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted “fraudulent valuations” for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.

The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump’s alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.

In an earlier hearing of the closing arguments, Judge Arhtur Engoron reserved his ruling till January 31.

On Wednesday, he upheld it again.

Judge Engoron has already ruled against Trump finding him guilty of inflating his business assets to obtain loans illegally from banks ( Deutsche bank) and cancelled his business certificates in New York but held them in abeyance pending Trumps plea in an appeals court.

Judge Arthur Engoron had asked state attorney Kevin Wallace then to conclude the day’s proceedings by comparing Trump’s fraud to the actions of financier Bernie Madoff, who defrauded clients out of tens of billions of dollars in the 1990s and 2000s.

“How would you compare the fraud you are alleging to the Madoff Ponzi scheme?” Engoron said.

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