NEW YORK (PIX11) — Former President Donald Trump fumed inside a Manhattan courthouse Monday during the start of his civil fraud trial.
Trump shook his head repeatedly, clearly expressing frustration as the trial began against him, his family, and his company.
“It’s a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt of all time, and the people of this country won’t stand for it,” Trump said before entering the courtroom.
He sat scouring during opening statements, feet from the woman who brought the allegation– New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“My message is simple: No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law,” James said on the courthouse steps.
Former President Trump, his family, and his business are facing six allegations of inflating the value of increasing the value of properties to secure more favorable loans– and also of ripping off insurance companies.
There is no jury, Judge Arthur Engoron
will decide this case.
Engoron found Trump guilty of a 7th top charge of fraud last week, which may cost the former President hundreds of millions of dollars and mean the Trump family can no longer do business in New York. The defense team’s ruling and frustrations with it came up repeatedly during opening arguments.
The remaining six charges essentially boil down to whether or not the former President, family and company intentionally committed various forms of fraud.
The trial is expected to take about three months.
Attorneys for the former President argued the case was political and that the loans and properties in question represent a small portion of the business empire– and banks knew the risks they were taking and made money off the deals.
“There was no illegality, no fraud, there were no victims,” said a Trump defense attorney. “In sum, the Attorney General has no case.”
The judge was clearly skeptical of these arguments, and the former President noticed when the trial took a lunch break.
“We are going to be here for months with a Judge who already made up his mind– It’s ridiculous!” Trump said.
After opening statements, witness testimony began with a former accountant who worked with Mazars, the firm that handled the Trump organization’s taxes for a number of years.