‘A Disgusting Charade’: Trump Lashes Out at ‘Racist’ Letitia James After He’s Hit With $355 Million Judgment in Fraud Case

‘Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,’ Judge Engoron wrote of the Trumps.

Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images
President Trump is flanked by his attorneys at his civil fraud trial at New York. Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump was hit with another hefty verdict at New York on Friday afternoon. A state supreme court justice, Arthur Engoron, published his long-awaited damages decision in the civil fraud case against the Trump Organization, ordering the former president and his family businesses to pay more than $355 million to the state of New York. As devastating as that amount may be, the ruling is not a complete loss for the defense. 

In September 2022, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, sued Mr. Trump, his two adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric, two former employees, his chief financial officer, Allan Weisselberg, and controller, Jeff McConney, and 10 of his companies for fraud. Ms. James accused the Trumps of falsifying business records in a decades-long scheme to gain favorable loans and policies from banks and insurers.

“After presiding over a non-jury trial that began on October 2, 2023, and ended on December 13, 2023, with closing arguments on January 11, 2024, this Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law and issues this Decision and Order,” Judge Engoron’s highly anticipated ruling begins, offering 90 pages of reasoning. He fulsomely denounced the Trump family, saying, “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.”  

Judge Engoron.
Judge Arthur Engoron, in a searing ruling, hit the Trumps with a $355 million ruling for fraud.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Mr. Trump was also not holding back. Writing on his social media platform, Truth Social, shortly after the decision came down, he described the legal proceedings as “a disgusting charade.”

Mr. Trump wrote, “Racist, Corrupt A.G. Tish James has been obsessed with ‘Getting Trump’ for years, and used Crooked New York State Judge Engoron to get an illegal, unAmerican judgment against me, my family, and my tremendous business.” 

It was this very lack of contrition that Judge Engoron remarked upon in his ruling, when he quoted a British poet and satirist, Alexander Pope, who wrote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine,” Judge Engoron slammed the Trumps for lack of contrition or accountability. “The only error (‘inadvertent,’ of course) that they acknowledge is the tripling of the size of the Trump Tower Penthouse,” he fumed.

The Trumps have denied all wrongdoing, and insisted during the course of the two-and-half-months-long trial that there were no victims and no complaints, that no bank and no insurance company lost any money. Mr. Trump told the court on the day of closing arguments, “I am an innocent man.”   

Judge Arthur Engoron presides over President Trump's civil fraud trial alongside his principal clerk, Allison Greenfield.
Judge Engoron’s principal law clerk, criticized by the defense for bias and ‘co-judging,’ has been endorsed for her own judgeship by the Democratic County Committee. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Judge Engoron had already found all defendants liable for “persistent and repeated fraud” in a pretrial decision, based on his review of hundreds of pages of documents submitted by the attorney general, and hundreds of pages of answers from the defense.   

Now, in his final decision he also finds all defendants guilty of “Repeated and Persistent Illegality” by falsifying business records and issuing false financial statements, as well as conspiring to do so. 

Interestingly, the judge only holds the former chief financial officer, Weisselberg, liable for insurance fraud. The other defendants are, however, liable for the conspiracy of insurance fraud. In other words, in his view, the Trumps all conspired to mislead the insurance companies, but only  Weisselberg committed the actual fraud.

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion after refusing to testify against the Trumps, served 99 days on Rikers Island as the price of loyalty. In a recent article by the New York Times, it was reported that he is currently debating a plea deal with the district attorney for allegedly having committed perjury on the witness stand during the civil fraud trail. 

While Mr. Trump and his companies have been ordered to pay more than $355 million in damages, his two sons were slapped with smaller, milder judgements. Both Don Jr and Eric have to pay more than $4 million, and Weisselberg is ordered to pay $1 million to the state. 

The New York attorney general, Letitia James, state supreme court on November 8, 2023.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Another unexpected outcome of the verdict is that the judge changed a part of his pretrial ruling. He had previously canceled the business licenses, effectively barring the Trumps from doing business in New York. The defense appealed that decision and the appeals court stayed the order until a final review of the case. 

Now Judge Engoron has modified that decision. The business licenses are not canceled, but the court reserves the right to review the matter, should any new illegal activity be brought to its attention. And to ensure the company is compliant, the judge ordered that an “Independent Director of Compliance” be appointed, “at the defense’s expense,” to oversee, or basically audit, the “accounting and financial reporting” of the businesses. 

The independent monitor, a former judge named Barbara Jones, has been overseeing the Trump Organization for more than a year now, and is now ordered to remain in her position. So now, the Trumps have two, instead of one, monitor at their heels. 

Mr. Trump, Weisselberg, and Mr. McConney have been barred from holding the role of an “officer or director” of any company in New York for the next three years, while Mr. Trump’s sons were again treated more mildly, and barred for two years. Only Mr. Trump is barred from getting a loan from banks registered in New York state. 

President Trump stands with his lawyer, Alina Habba, as she speaks to the media at one of his properties, 40 Wall Street, January 11, 2024, at New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This basically means that the Trump empire is not dismantled, but the Trumps cannot run it for the next three years without significant oversight.   

“This verdict is a manifest injustice—plain and simple,” a defense attorney, Alina Habba, said in a statement to Newsweek. “It is the culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt that was designed to ‘take down Donald Trump,’ before Letitia James ever stepped foot into the Attorney General’s office. Countless hours of testimony proved that there was no wrongdoing, no crime, and no victim.”

The defense has already said it will appeal the verdict. 

In the meantime, the judge’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, a prominent target of Mr. Trump during the trial, was endorsed for her own judgeship by the Democratic County Committee on Monday.

Alina Habba leaves Manhattan Federal Court on January 18, 2024. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A local New York newspaper, The Spirit, first reported that “the nomination from the local county party leaders guarantees her the Democratic line on the ballot in November.” 

Ms. Greenfield made headlines during the civil fraud trial after Mr. Trump repeatedly mocked her on his Truth Social platform, calling her, without verification, Senator Schumer’s “girlfriend.” Judge Engoron placed Mr. Trump under a gag order, in an effort to stop the former president from publicly shaming his staff. Mr. Trump was fined twice with a total amount of $15,000 for violating the order. 

During the testimony of his son, Eric Trump, defense attorneys told the judge they felt Ms. Greenfield, who was sitting directly next to the judge on his bench, was “co-judging” the case by constantly passing notes to him, rolling her eyes, and whispering into his ear. The judge was unmoved, and  extended the gag order to include the attorneys as well. Court officials said Ms. Greenfield was deluged by death threats and antisemitic phone calls to her personal cellphone in the wake of being singled out by Mr. Trump.

An appeal of the gag order was denied. But the defense, which has argued its First Amendment rights have been violated, said it wants to bring the case to the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals. In their numerous objections to the conduct of Ms. Greenfield, the defense was clearly preparing an appeal to a case they appeared certain to lose with Judge Engoron. 

Donald Trump Jr. leaves the courtroom after testifying in his civil fraud trial at New York state supreme court on November 13, 2023. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images.

After Judge Engoron’s ruling on Friday, Mr. Trump has 30 days to either secure a bond or come up with the $355 million, which, according to Ms. James, will reach more than $450 million with added interest.  

Friday afternoon, the attorney general posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, “In a massive victory, we won our case against Donald Trump for engaging in years of incredible financial fraud to enrich himself. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and his former executives must pay over $450 million in disgorgement and interest.” 

The New York Sun

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