Donald Trump Questions Definition of Fraud After Verdict

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Former President Donald Trump plans to challenge the recent Manhattan Supreme Court ruling that ordered him to pay $355 million in damages over allegations of fraud. Trump’s attorney, Christopher Kise, said that Trump’s legal team will contest the definition of “fraud” presented by Justice Arthur Engoron, arguing that there was no actual fraud involved in the case. The appeal aims to address what Trump’s legal team perceives as serious legal and constitutional questions surrounding the judgment.

Last week, Justice Engoron issued a fine against Trump, 77, after determining that the Trump Organization had overvalued assets for more than a decade, allegedly to secure loans and deals from banks and insurers in New York. 

Judge Engoron also imposed restrictions on Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, preventing them from conducting business in the state for two years. 

Executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney were banned from serving as company officers for three years.

The appeal process, which Trump’s lawyer noted would fall within the 30-day window provided by the court, is expected to center on the interpretation of fraud under New York law. Syracuse University of Law Professor Greg Germain emphasized that Trump’s appeal must demonstrate that the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, does not possess the authority to penalize him without meeting traditional elements of fraud, including intent to defraud, false statements of fact, reasonable reliance by victims, materiality, causation, and damages.

However, Germain also pointed out that AG James may counter by citing state law, which grants her broad powers to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged civil fraud without necessarily proving all six traditional elements of fraud. This legal wrangling sets the stage for a potentially lengthy and contentious legal battle.

The ruling against Trump stemmed from a civil fraud lawsuit filed by AG James back in 2022, alleging that Trump, and his family real estate company engaged in fraudulent practices. The judgment marks a significant development in James’ efforts to hold powerful entities accountable for legal violations, including Trump, the NRA, and the Catholic Church.

Trump’s criticism of the New York fraud law dates back to last October when he suggested its unconstitutionality and questioned its fairness. He has labeled the law as allowing politically motivated prosecution, particularly targeting political opponents. However, legal experts assert that the case against Trump is based on evidence and merit rather than political bias.

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