A defiant former President Donald Trump addressed the gaggle of media outside the courtroom Monday morning before the start of his civil trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, whom he labeled as "racist" and "a horror show."
"There was no victim here," Trump told reporters just before entering "rogue" Judge Arthur Engoron's courtroom, denouncing the lawsuit as a piece of the "single greatest witch-hunt of all time."
"The banks got back their money. Again, there was never a default. It was never a problem. Everything was perfect."
James — a Democrat who ran her campaign vowing to "get Trump," he said — is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York. Notably, the trial is brought in civil court instead of criminal court, and Trump alleged it is done in coordination with President Joe Biden's Justice Department to attack his political opposition with weaponized justice and prosecutors.
"There was no crime; the crime is against me, because we have a corrupt attorney general, and it all comes down from the DOJ that totally coordinated this in Washington because I'm ... the leading candidate," Trump said. "I'm leading Biden by 10 points, and I'm leading the Republicans by 50-60 points."
Engoron already has ruled Trump committed fraud in his business dealings. It is a non-jury trial, so Engoron will decide on six other claims in the lawsuit. The judge's ruling last week, if upheld on appeal, could force Trump to give up New York properties including Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses, and a suburban estate.
"This has to do with election interference, plain and simple," Trump continued in the near eight-minute address which appeared to be off the cuff and without notes or prepared remarks. "They're trying to damage me so that I don't do as well as I'm doing in the election. Our country has gone to hell. We have a country that's in decline. Serious decline. We have a man running our country has no clue. He doesn't know what he's doing.
"It's a disgrace. So what we have here is an attempt to hurt me in the election."
Trump noted the trial was not brought for years but now has been "railroaded and fast tracked" as the 2024 presidential primary cycle ramps up.
"This trial could have been brought years ago, but they waited until I was right in the middle of my campaign, the same with other trials and indictments," Trump said. "It's all run by DOJ, which is corrupt, in Washington. Everything goes through them. They're all corrupt people. Frankly, our country is corrupt. And that's one of the reasons I'm running. We're going to straighten it out."
The undervaluing of the Trump Organization's assets will be at the heart of this civil trial, according to Trump, who says his financial "buyer beware" disclaimers absolve him from wrongdoing because it tells all parties involved to "do their own research" and make their own subjective judgments, appraisals, and evaluations.
"My brand is extremely valuable," Trump told reporters, denouncing Engoron's lack of real estate expertise in making his own judgments on property values.
"I have to go through this for political reasons," Trump continued. "This judge is a politician. He comes out of the clubs. He's running unopposed. The reason he's unopposed is because he's getting Trump. They always run unopposed. He's getting Trump. The bosses say, Don't run against this guy; he's doing great; he's getting Trump.
"But he overplayed his hand and he should be investigated for what he's done. What he did in undervaluing these properties is a disgrace to our nation. This shouldn't be a case."
James decided to go forward with the civil lawsuit despite the "buyer beware" clauses, according to Trump, because even expensive and lengthy litigation will keep Trump occupied and forced to fund legal defenses instead of his campaign, he argued.
"When the attorney general found out about the disclaimer request, she said, That's OK, let's go forward anyway; it's good publicity," Trump said.
"These are corrupt people. We're dealing with the most corrupt people. We have a great company. I built a great company. It's got tremendous value. It's got some of the greatest real estate assets in the world. And now I have to go before a rogue judge as a continuation of Russia, Russia, Russia, as a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt of all time, and I don't think the people of this country are going to stand for it."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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