NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump delivered a defiant closing statement in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday as he fought against a $370 million penalty and other sanctions in the civil fraud lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General. Trump, who is also the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, claimed that the case was a form of election interference and criticized Attorney General Letitia James, whom he accused of harboring a personal vendetta against him.
Trump and his legal team presented their final arguments in the case, with James’ office scheduled to make their remarks later in the day. The lawsuit seeks to hold Trump accountable for nearly the entire $370 million penalty, which would also result in a lifetime ban on his involvement in the New York real estate industry.
The trial has revolved around allegations that Trump fraudulently inflated his financial statements, resulting in favorable loan terms and other benefits. In September, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled in favor of the Attorney General, concluding that Trump had engaged in fraudulent conduct and ordering the revocation of his New York business certificates. However, an appeals court has since put that order on hold.
The case took a dramatic turn when Judge Engoron received a bomb threat at his home early on Thursday. Security was increased around the courthouse, but the proceedings continued as planned.
During his closing statement, Trump expressed his frustration with the case and accused James of using it as a platform for her own political ambitions. He also criticized the judge, claiming that Engoron had his own agenda. The judge eventually intervened, advising Trump’s lawyer to control his client and reminding him to focus on the law and facts of the case.
Trump’s legal team argued that the proposed $370 million fine and ban on running a New York business would violate the U.S. Constitution. They contended that the alleged conduct had no real-world impact and characterized the lawsuit as an attempt to turn a standard business transaction into fraud.
The judge’s ruling is expected by the end of January and will determine the damages and potential sanctions that Trump and his co-defendants will face. Regardless of the outcome, this trial marks another chapter in the legal challenges that Trump has faced since leaving office.