Trump has lost his New York business licence – but he claims it's a politically motivated 'witch-hunt'

By John Mercury October 3, 2023

The takeaway phrase from day one of this first of so many court cases against Donald Trump?

“Rampant fraud”.

That’s not, legally at least, a point of debate. The judge has concluded, in a pre-trial ruling, that the Trump Organisation did commit widespread fraud.

Politically though, it is deeply debatable: due process versus partisan witch-hunt.

If you remove the context of the crimes here, then you can see how Trump’s witch-hunt narrative plays well in his America.

The attorney general is a Democrat and the judge is Democrat-appointed. This is not unusual. Across the country legal officials are aligned, by appointment or by election, to one party or the other.

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‘Judge concluded he is a fraud’

But the judicial system here stands on its ability to be impartial regardless of any perceived or real political affiliation. And crucially it stands on public trust in that ability.

This is a wedge Trump is exploiting.

He questions why it matters if he inflated the price of his properties. The banks don’t care, he says. They got their money back; there is no victim. He ignores the fact that fraud does not require a victim.

And as he left court, he deployed his trademark doublespeak, designed to conflate and confuse. He expressed victim-laden outrage that the trial was not a jury trial.

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Trump speaks after ‘terrible’ fraud case

Read more:
What are Donald Trump’s biggest assets and how much does he claim they are worth?
As it happened: Donald Trump’s day in court

He totally ignored the fact that it could have been a jury trial if he had asked for one. And he did not.

Under New York State law, if any of the defendants had asked for a jury, they would have received one.

So – what to look out for now? First, what happens to Mr Trump’s properties here in New York City?

He’s lost his business licence here in the city. The judge has now given him ten days to say how he will dissolve his assets here. Selling Trump Tower? Quite possibly.

And then there is the poll watch; how America reacts to this.

It’s telling that he doesn’t bother to turn up to the Republican Party debates with the other candidates, but he does turn up to court.

In his America – this is his campaign trail.

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