Former president Donald Trump and his sons lashed out at the New York attorney general after a judge on Tuesday found him liable for fraud for allegedly inflating the value of his properties and other assets.
Judge Arthur Engoron issued a partial judgment in a civil lawsuit brought by attorney general Letitia James accusing the 45th president, his company and chief associates of deceiving banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth.
Her years-long investigation targeted long-running fraud allegations surrounding Mr Trump’s businesses.
In a series of posts on his Truth Social account, Mr Trump targeted Judge Engoron and the attorney general, while claiming that the decision was part of an ongoing plot to damage his bid to return to the White House in 2024.
Mr Trump said: "The widespread, radical attack against me, my family and my supporters has now devolved to new, un-American depths, at the hands of a DERANGED New York state judge, doing the bidding of a completely biased and corrupt 'prosecutor', Letitia James, who ran for office based on a 'GET TRUMP' platform, before even knowing anything about me.”
In a separate post, he added: "My civil rights have been violated, and some appellate court, whether federal or state, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision. If they can do this to me, they can do this to YOU.”
Judge Engoron ordered that some of Mr Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for him to do business in New York.
In another statement, Mr Trump said: "Can you imagine ruling against me for having done business perfectly, and yet letting people go on a rampage on the sidewalks of New York?
"This is the judicial conduct that is forcing thousands of companies to flee New York for other environs, while virtually nobody comes back to the city or state. A very sad day for the New York state system of justice!"
His son Eric Trump argued that the judge's valuation of his father's sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was wrong and that the property could be worth over a billion dollars.
“In an attempt to destroy my father, a judge in New York just ruled that Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach Florida, is worth approximate ‘$18 million dollars’," he said on Truth Social.
"Mar-a-Lago is speculated to be worth over a billion making it arguably the most valuable residential property in the country. It is all so corrupt and coordinated,” he added.
Judge Engoron said Mr Trump overvalued Mar-a-Lago, estimating it was worth as much as $612.1m, though an assessor said its market value was no more than $27.6m. "A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud," the judge added.
Eric Trump shared another screenshot of home listings in Palm Beach, which allegedly had a market value of over $35m.
“These homes are about 1/30 the size of Mar-a-Lago, not on the beach (let alone the beach and intercostal), don’t span from once side of the Palm Beach Island to the other... it is a travesty of justice and embarrassment to the court,” he added.
The former president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr quipped if “Mar-a-Lago is worth $18 million… I’ll take 10 please!!!”
He claimed that if his father tried claiming that Mar-a-Lago was worth $18m, he would probably then “get charged with trying to underpay his real estate taxes”.
“They’ve set the game up so it’s always lose/lose in these blue states. If you don’t abide by their narrative they will target you.”