/ 04 October 2023

Trump on trial

Image source: Flickr
Image source: Flickr

The Squiz

Former US President Donald Trump is in court in New York facing a civil case brought by state prosecutors over claims that he defrauded his business partners. If this is ringing a bell, it might be because last week, Justice Arthur Engoron made a pre-trial decision that Trump had persistently committed fraud by drastically inflating the value of his properties and overstating his net worth by amounts between US$812 million and $2.2 billion so he could get bigger/better financing deals. The question at play now is: what’s the punishment going to be? Letitia James is the New York prosecutor bringing the case – she is gunning for a US$250 million fine. The ruling could also mean that Trump has to sell off or transfer ownership of his properties after the judge made it difficult to continue running his real estate business by stripping him, and his sons Eric and Don, of their business licences. 

So this is big?

As far as his business empire is concerned, it sure is – but before you run away too far, note that Trump’s lawyers have already said they’ll be appealing the ruling. Trump has called Justice Engoron “deranged” and “rogue” and says the case against him is “a continuation of the single greatest witch-hunt of all time”. For her part, James says it shows “no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law”. But what this isn’t is one of the criminal cases against Trump that we’ve been hearing so much about all year… You’d remember that there are 4 that have been brought over accusations of mishandling classified documents, election interference, hush-money payments and insurrection. Meanwhile, Trump continues his rails run for the Republican presidential nomination…

Anything else?

In his old stomping ground, there is turmoil unfolding this morning in the US Congress… This story goes back to the averted debt ceiling crisis in May of this year when the Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy teamed up with Democrats to allow the US to avoid defaulting on its debts. A group of hard-right/pro-Trump Republicans weren’t happy with McCarthy at the time, and a near-shutdown last week was their latest attempt to exert control over the Speaker – which McCarthy again avoided by passing legislation with Democratic help. Now, one of the right-wingers, Matt Gaetz, has called a no-confidence vote on McCarthy’s leadership. There are also reports that Gaetz himself could be expelled from the House. “Bring it on,” McCarthy posted yesterday, and so it was: the vote is happening as we send this newsletter, so hang onto your hats…

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