Trump’s Biggest Legals Are Likely Yet To Come

In a landmark civil business fraud trial in New York, former President Donald Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, face potential financial penalties that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. The trial centers around allegations of fraudulent valuations that the defendants used to inflate the value of their assets and obtain favorable terms on bank loans and insurance.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over the case, ruled in September that the Trump Organization and its executives, including Trump and his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, committed fraud by lying about the value of their company’s assets. The judge is now tasked with determining the appropriate punishment for their actions.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who prosecuted the case, has requested $370 million in penalties. She also seeks to bar Trump from running a company in New York state again and prevent him from buying real estate or taking out a loan for the next five years.

The judge’s decision is expected to be announced soon. While no firm deadline has been set, Engoron stated during a hearing in November that he aimed to issue a verdict by the end of January.

The financial penalty imposed on Trump will likely be significant, even for someone of his wealth. Forbes estimates his net worth to be approximately $2.6 billion, with liquid assets totaling around $426 million. If Trump is prohibited from conducting business in New York state, or if his companies are liquidated, it could potentially force the sale of some of his iconic properties, such as the Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Engoron has considerable latitude in determining the punishment under New York’s anti-fraud statute. Columbia University law professor Eric Talley suggests that the judge is likely seeking a balance between an ineffective order and what he refers to as a “corporate death penalty.”

Meanwhile, Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor on Trump’s Rico trial, recently settled his divorce case in Georgia. However, allegations of a romantic relationship between Wade and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis have raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest. Trump and another codefendant, Michael Roman, have sought to remove both Wade and Willis from the case, with Trump filing a motion to disqualify the district attorney’s office. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for February 15.