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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Trump on trial: Former president faces fraud charges

This year has seen former President Trump face 91 felony charges across two states. An ongoing civil fraud trial in the state of New York. has been among his encounters with the courts.
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This year has seen former President Trump face 91 felony charges across two states. An ongoing civil fraud trial in the state of New York. has been among his encounters with the courts.

Former President Donald Trump currently is on trial in New York for allegedly lying to investors and inflating his net worth. Trump has had a rocky post-presidency, with multiple civil and criminal cases being leveled against him in the past two years. Most of these are scheduled to begin in 2024, but this fraud case began very recently on Oct. 2.

The case stems from a 2019 investigation into the Trump Organization by New York Attorney General Letitia James which alleged that Trump had inflated the value of personal assets in order to secure tax benefits and loans. James subpoenaed multiple members of the Trump organization in 2020, as well as Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who testified to the court that the former president had inflated or deflated his net worth at various times to suit his interests.

James issued further subpoenas to members of the Trump Organization as well as the Trump family throughout 2021 and 2022. In February 2022, Trump’s children attempted to quash the subpoenas directed at them, arguing that their testimony in the civil case might be used against them in a parallel criminal case. Their request was dismissed later that month by Judge Arthur Engoron, who ruled that both Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were required to testify as part of the case.

As reported by CNN and other media outlets, on April 27, 2022, James requested that the former president be held in contempt of court. James alleged that Trump had failed to conform to a subpoena ordering that certain documents be turned in to the court, and asked the court to impose a fine of $10,000 per day on Trump until the documents were turned in. Trump’s contempt was cleared in May 2022 and as reported by The Guardian, he was forced to pay a reduced fine of $110,000.

In April 2022, Trump attracted controversy after he called Attorney General James “a racist” and “a failed gubernatorial candidate” on social media, according to Business Insider. Variations of this incident have taken place multiple times over the course of the case, where Trump has made accusations or insults directed at the prosecution or court staff on social media, attracting backlash from the public. 

Earlier this month, Trump attacked a court clerk serving on Engoran’s staff on his social media platform Truth Social, posting the clerk’s name and a photograph of her with Sen. Chuck Schumer, and calling her Schumer’s “girlfriend,” according to CNN. This resulted in Engoron issuing a gag order against Trump, ordering him not to speak publicly about any members of the court staff.

On January 31 of this year, a date was officially decided on for the trial to begin – Oct. 2. On March 3, Trump requested an extension of about six months, ignoring Engoron’s previous remarks stating that the trial would start on Oct. 2 “come hell or high water,” according to The Hill. Trump’s request was denied, and the trial began as planned.

The most recent development in the case was Trump’s testimony on Nov. 6, which lasted over four hours and included much of the erratic behavior for which Trump is known. As reported by multiple media outlets, Engeron told Trump “This is not your political rally” after he started giving speeches in the courtroom rather than simply answering the questions. 

This kind of disruptive behavior from Trump has been present throughout the trial, from his disparaging remarks about the clerk to Trump’s refusal to turn in the subpoenaed documents, and now to his actions in the courtroom – including an incident where he stormed out of the courtroom after facing off against Michael Cohen. 

Trump currently is running for president again, seeking to be the Republican Party’s candidate for the 2024 election, and it seems his multiple criminal cases actually have boosted support for him among Republicans, according to Al Jazeera and other media sources. However, none of Trump’s trials, criminal or civil, are over yet, and it is possible that things could change in the future. While the charges themselves apparently have boosted support for Trump, it is possible that the verdicts, should he be found guilty, will have the opposite effect.

“I believe that as we approach verdicts in the legal cases, and as Trump becomes further unhinged as a result, we should see his support among likely Republican general election voters begin to waver,” said Ken Gilmore, a professor of political science at Guilford. “The latest estimates are by roughly six percentage points. It’s not much, but it would be decisive.”

A guilty verdict might decrease support for Trump among Republican voters, but not enough for another Republican candidate to take his place. According to Gilmore, “the only way another Democrat gets the nomination would be if Biden withdraws because of some medical setback. Same for Trump. This is, almost certainly, who we get.” 

Some media outlets have predicted that the 2024 election will be a rematch or even a repeat of 2020, with Biden being the only likely candidate for Democrats, and Trump the only one for Republicans. If this does end up being the case, the results of Trump’s trials could possibly shift the vote away from him.

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