The fraud trial in New York involving Donald Trump has sparked debate over the robustness of the evidence and the intentions driving the legal action. Judge Arthur Engoron favored New York Attorney General Letitia James, concluding that Trump and senior Trump Organization officials engaged in fraudulent practices. However, there’s speculation regarding the consequences of Trump’s behavior and the likelihood of an appeal.
One of the key aspects of the case is whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that Trump’s actions harmed anyone. Syracuse University Professor of Law, Greg Germain suggests that this evidence is “fragile” and that Trump may have grounds for appeal. According to Germain, if the attorney general seeks to punish Trump for past harm rather than prevent future damage, she would need to provide all the traditional elements of fraud.
Germain also questions the motives behind the prosecution, suggesting that the attorney general’s role is typically to protect innocent citizens who cannot defend themselves, such as consumers and investors. In this case, the attorney general is purportedly protecting large financial institutions capable of protecting themselves. While motive may not be directly relevant to the legal issues at hand, Germain believes that the judges will consider the ramifications of their decision.
Judge Engoron will soon rule on the damages Trump must pay and other accusations, including falsifying business records, insurance fraud, and conspiracy claims. James is seeking the return of $370 million in profits that Trump allegedly made.
The approach Judge Engoron will take in crafting his ruling, particularly whether he will reference instances of previous fraud, is yet to be determined. Germain anticipates that Engoron will choose pieces of evidence from the trial that substantiate the criteria for fraud. Nonetheless, he points out that the proof of the supposed “victims'” justifiable dependence on Trump’s financial disclosures appears weak, casting doubt on the solidity of the case against Trump.
Under New York Executive Order 63.12, which served as the basis for Attorney General Letitia James to initiate her lawsuit, she is endowed with extensive authority to probe purported business misconduct. Germain contends that although the attorney general’s motivation might not constitute a formal defense, it ought to significantly influence the judge’s deliberations. He raises concerns about whether the attorney general possesses the extraordinary ability to sanction misinformation, regardless of its intent, its impact on decision-making, or its lack of resultant damage.
As the trial comes to a close, the outcome remains uncertain. Trump may have solid grounds for appeal based on the fragility of the evidence and the motives behind the prosecution. The ruling by Judge Engoron will shape the future course of the case and determine the consequences for Trump and the Trump Organization.