TRUMP CIVIL FRAUD CASE: JUDGE FINES TRUMP $354M, SAYS FRAUDS 'SHOCK THE CONSCIENCE'

Former President Donald Trump has been fined $354.8 million plus approximately $100 million in interest in a civil fraud lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel him to the White House. In the decision, Judge Arthur Engoron excoriated Trump, saying the president's credibility was "severely compromised," that the frauds "shock the conscience" and that Trump and his co-defendants showed a "complete lack of contrition and remorse" that he said "borders on pathological."

MORE: After his latest court ruling, Trump could now face $540 million in fines. Does he have the money to pay?

Engoron also hit Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump with $4 million fines and barred all three from helming New York companies for years. New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump and his adult sons of engaging in 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 loan terms. The former president has denied all wrongdoing and has said he will appeal.

 

Latest Developments

Feb 16, 7:17 PM

Trump, NY AG James trade barbs following decision

Former President Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James, in separate media appearances, addressed the ruling Friday evening, trading barbs while reacting to the judgment.

Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump said he had to pay a fine for "having built a perfect company." He denied committing any fraud and said he plans to appeal.

Video: Trump responds to ruling: 'A crooked New State judge just ruled I need to pay a fine'

Meanwhile, in New York, James lauded the ruling as a victory for all Americans and the principles of equal justice under the law -- saying "former presidents are no exception."

"The scale and scope of Donald Trump's fraud is staggering -- and so, too, is his ego and his belief that the rules don't apply to him," she said.

James also heralded Judge Engoron's penalties as effective remedies to "ensure this fraud cannot continue."

Video: Letitia James delivers remarks after Trump ruling

 
Feb 16, 5:51 PM

Interest will add about $100M to Trump's fine

Based on Friday's decision, former President Trump and his co-defendants will likely owe $463.9 million based on their initial fine and the prejudgment interest imposed by the court, according to a representative for the New York attorney general.

Trump himself will likely owe $453.5 million, between his $354.86 million fine and $98.6 million in interest.

The amount of interest owed by the defendants is set to increase every day they do not pay the fines.

 
Feb 16, 4:59 PM

NY AG calls ruling a 'tremendous victory'

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office brought the civil fraud case against Donald Trump, described the ruling as a "tremendous victory for this state, this nation, and for everyone who believes that we all must play by the same rules -- even former presidents."

“When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people," James said in a statement. "Everyday Americans cannot lie to a bank to get a mortgage to buy a home, and if they did, our government would throw the book at them. There simply cannot be different rules for different people."

The former president is "finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud," she said.

 
Feb 16, 4:54 PM

Decision constrains Trump Organization in New York

In addition to the fines imposed on Donald Trump and his co-defendants, the judge's decision leaves the Trump Organization in a constrained position to continue operating their New York-based businesses.

While Judge Engoron backtracked on his September summary judgment ruling -- vacating the part of his order that canceled their business certificates -- Donald Trump and his sons are temporarily unable to lead their namesake company. Trump faces a three-year ban on serving as the leader of a New York company, and his sons face two-year bans.

An independent monitor will continue to oversee the company's finances for at least three years, and the company needs to install a director of compliance.

Regarding the combined $364 million owed by the defendants, experts who ABC News spoke with believe it is unlikely any of them foot the bill immediately; instead, they can cover the fine with a bond while they appeal.

 
Feb 16, 4:50 PM

Michael Cohen 'told the truth': Judge Engoron

On Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer and self-described "fixer," Judge Engoron wrote in his ruling that he found the star witness to be a credible witness despite having been convicted of perjury.

"His testimony was significantly compromised by his having pleaded guilty to perjury and by some seeming contradictions in what he said at trial," Engoron wrote. "However, carefully parsed, he testified that although Donald Trump did not expressly direct him to reverse engineer financial statements, he ordered him to do so indirectly, in his 'mob voice.'"

Engoron continued that although the "animosity between the witness and the defendant is palpable, providing Cohen with an incentive to lie, the Court found his testimony credible, based on the relaxed manner in which he testified, the general plausibility of his statements, and, most importantly, the way his testimony was corroborated by other trial evidence."

A "less-forgiving factfinder" might have come to a different conclusion and not believed "a single word of a convicted perjurer," Engoron wrote.

"This factfinder does not believe that pleading guilty to perjury means that you can never tell the truth," he continued. "Michael Cohen told the truth."

Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress about the Russia probe, addressed the passage on social media, writing on X, "Judge Engoron's determination regarding my veracity at the NYAG Trump civil fraud trial. Michael Cohen told the truth!"

 
Feb 16, 4:13 PM

Trump family reacts to ruling: 'Insane'

Members of the Trump family and their attorneys roundly called the ruling unjust and indicated they plan to appeal.

Eric Trump told ABC News the judgment against him and his family is "a total joke" and "insane." He said the family will immediately appeal the ruling, which he said shows the court and the attorney general in his opinion are "living in an alternate universe."

Donald Trump Jr. accused the case of being politically motivated.

"We've reached the point where your political beliefs combined with what venue your case is heard are the primary determinants of the outcome; not the facts of the case!" he said in a statement to ABC News.

Donald Trump's lawyer, Chris Kise, also claimed the case was an "unjust political crusade" against the leading Republican presidential candidate and that there was no evidence of fraud.

"Hard to imagine a more unfair process and hard to believe this is happening in America," Kise said, adding that the former president "will of course appeal."

Donald Trump's legal spokesperson, Alina Habba, called the verdict a "manifest injustice" and the "culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt."

"Countless hours of testimony proved that there was no wrongdoing, no crime, and no victim," Habba said in a statement. "Given the grave stakes, we trust that the Appellate Division will overturn this egregious verdict and end this relentless persecution against my clients."

The Trump Organization also said the ruling was a "gross miscarriage of justice."

"Every member of the New York business community, no matter the industry, should be gravely concerned with this gross overreach and brazen attempt by the Attorney General to exert limitless power where no private or public harm has been established," a spokesperson said in a statement. "If allowed to stand, this ruling will only further expedite the continuing exodus of companies from New York."

 
Feb 16, 4:03 PM

null

 
Feb 16, 3:58 PM

Judge, in decision, says the buck stopped with Trump

Judge Engoron took direct aim at several of the Trumps' core defenses, including Trump's claim that real estate appraisal is imprecise and subjective, and that property valuations reflect nuances in the market that only sophisticated practitioners can understand.

Engoron called that argument a "great red herring in this case."

"True enough, as appraising is an art as well as a science," Engoron wrote. "However, the science part cannot be fraudulent. When two appraisals rely on starkly different assumptions, that is not evidence of a difference of opinion, that is evidence of deceit."

Engoron also undercut a common refrain from defendants' that their accountants were responsible for maintaining above-board business practices.

In a section of his ruling titled, "Blame the Accountants," Engoron wrote that, "There is overwhelming evidence … that the buck for being truthful in the supporting data valuations stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants."

 
Feb 16, 3:54 PM

Judge orders monitor to oversee company

Judge Engoron vacated his September order canceling the defendants’ business certificates, instead ordering an independent monitor to oversee the Trump Organization for at least three years.

He also ordered an Independent Director of Compliance be installed at the company.

 
Feb 16, 3:51 PM

Judge says Trump's lack of remorse 'borders on pathological'

Judge Engoron, in his decision, excoriated the Trumps and their co-defendants for their "complete lack of contrition and remorse" that he said "borders on pathological."

"They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin."

"Defendants did not commit murder or arson," the judge wrote. "They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways. Instead, they adopt a 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' posture that the evidence belies."

Click here to read the rest of the blog.

2023-10-02T10:41:09Z dg43tfdfdgfd