Trump Claims $354.9M Fraud Fine As Election Interference

Donald Trump lashed out at the New York judge on February 17 for ordering him to pay US$354.9 million in penalties for fraudulently overstating his wealth to dupe lenders.

At a campaign rally attended by thousands of supporters, he claimed the decision was a scheme to interfere with the election.

For the first time since receiving a significant financial penalty from Justice Arthur Engoron on February 16, Trump claimed without evidence that the judge was involved in a “left-wing” plot to prevent his presidency.

Trump, leading the race for the Republican nomination for president, declared to an audience in Michigan that such abuses of power targeted not only him but all Americans.

He reiterated his unfounded assertion that he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden due to electoral fraud.

Justice Engoron prohibited Trump from holding any executive or director positions in New York-based companies for three years and criticized Trump and his co-defendants for their apparent complete absence of guilt or regret.

New York’s Attorney-General Letitia James charged Trump and his businesses with inflating his net worth by up to $3.6 billion annually for a decade to secure favorable loan conditions from banks.

Trump spoke shortly after Ms. Nikki Haley, his main competitor for the Republican presidential nomination, held an event in South Carolina.

The morning after the verdict on February 16, Ms. Haley immediately criticized Trump, marking another legal defeat threatening his real estate ventures.

Trump faces four criminal trials, including a New York case starting on March 25th concerning alleged payments to silence a porn star, making him the first ex-president to face criminal charges.

Haley has criticized Trump for the chaos surrounding him, suggesting his legal issues disqualify him from being an effective president or candidate.

“He’s going to be in court in March and April. He’s going to be in court in May and June. He himself said that he’s going to be spending more time in a courtroom than he is on the campaign trail,” Haley told Fox News.

Trump is nearing the Republican nomination, potentially setting up a rematch with Biden, after victories in early nominating contests.

Prior to his Michigan rally, where the Republican nomination events are scheduled for February 27 and March 2, Trump made an appearance at a sneaker convention in Philadelphia.

There, he unveiled his new sneaker line featuring gold accents and American flag designs.

Trump expressed his long-standing desire to launch the sneaker line and encouraged young voters to participate in elections.

Despite the challenges, Ms. Haley continues her campaign, focusing on South Carolina, where she significantly lags behind Trump in polls.

During a rally on February 17, Haley criticized Trump for not addressing the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Trump did not mention Navalny at his Michigan event.

Navalny, aged 47, was reported dead on Friday in a penal colony in the Arctic, with Western leaders, including President Biden, blaming Vladimir Putin without providing evidence.

In South Carolina, Haley accused Trump of previously supporting Putin and criticized a speech where Trump “encouraged” Russia to have free rein over NATO countries not meeting defense spending targets.

“Trump is siding with a thug who kills his own political opponents,” Ms. Haley said.