The first pictures are emerging of Donald Trump sitting in the courtroom at the New York Supreme Court after he launched a furious attack in which he branded America “corrupt”.
The former president was seen leaving Trump Tower in New York City earlier today before arriving at the Supreme Court.
He made a rare voluntary trip to court for the start of a civil trial in a lawsuit that has already resulted in a judge ruling that he committed fraud in his business dealings. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Outside the hearing, Trump said the US is “going to hell” in a lengthy speech.
The Republican front-runner in the presidential election race branded the case a “witch hunt” and claimed it was an attempt to prevent him from taking the White House hot seat in 2024.
Trump said: “The crime is against me because we have a corrupt Attorney General.
“It all comes down from the DOJ because I’m leading Biden by 10 points and leading the Republicans by 50 or 60 points….this has to do with election interference, plain and simple.
“They are trying to damage me so that I don’t do as well in the election. Our country has gone to hell, we have a country that is in serious decline.
“We have a man running our country that has no clue.”
He added: “This is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time. It’s a scam. It’s a sham.
“What we have here is an attempt to hurt me in an election. I don’t think the people of this country are going to stand for it.”
Trump also said: “This trial could have been brought years ago, but they waited until I was right in the middle of my presidential election campaign.
“The same with other trials and indictments – it’s all run by DOJ, which is corrupt in Washington. Everything goes through them. They are all corrupt people. Frankly, our country is corrupt.”
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The lawsuit accuses the Trump Organization of inflating the value of its assets by more than $2billion.
Last week, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump committed fraud in his business dealings.
This is a non-jury trial so the judge will decide on six other claims in the lawsuit.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is seeking $250million in penalties and a ban on the former president doing business in the city.
The ruling from the judge last week, if upheld on appeal, could force him to give up properties in New York, including Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses, and a suburban estate.
He has denied and wrongdoing and isn’t expected to testify for several weeks.
In posts overnight on his Truth Social site, Trump vowed to go to court “to fight for my name and reputation”.
He denounced the case as a “sham” and called on the attorney general and judge to resign from their positions.
Before today’s trial, James had reiterated her position that the 77-year-old had engaged in “persistent and repeated fraud” for several years.
She told reporters when entering the courthouse: “No matter how powerful you are, and no matter how much money you think you have, no one is above the law.”
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