Former President Donald Trump arrived in court on Monday to attend a civil trial in a lawsuit accusing him of extensive business fraud. As he entered the courtroom, he wore a scowl on his face. The lawsuit, brought forth by New York Attorney General Tish James’ office, alleges that Trump, his adult sons, his companies, and some of his business associates fraudulently inflated his net worth to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurance companies.
Attorney General Tish James herself was present at the trial, sitting in the first row of spectators. Trump, donning a navy suit and bright blue tie, walked directly in front of James upon entering the courtroom but did not make eye contact or interact with her.
Trump’s son, Eric Trump, who is a defendant in the case, also appeared in court.
The trial, which is a bench trial without a jury, commenced with opening arguments before Justice Arthur Engoron on Monday. Trump’s last appearance in a New York courthouse was in April for his arraignment on criminal charges related to hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. He is scheduled to go to trial in that case next year and is also under criminal indictment in three other cases in Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.
Outside the courthouse, a small group of protesters gathered, with some chanting, “Trump lies all the time.”
Last week, Judge Engoron delivered a potentially devastating ruling for Trump’s family business, finding Trump liable for widespread fraud and revoking the licenses for some of his flagship properties, including Trump Tower and the Trump International Hotel. This ruling means that the trial will now focus in part on the punishments Trump will face. Attorney General Tish James is seeking $250 million in damages and a ban on Trump running businesses in the state.
The trial beginning on Monday will address what Trump, his businesses, his adult sons, and his business associates did with that false information. According to James, they used it to commit insurance fraud and gain tax benefits.