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Judge Rules Trump Defrauded Banks and Insurance Companies

Donald Trump is sure getting bad news from the courts these days, even if his base doesn't want to hear it. Yesterday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the former president repeatedly defrauded banks and insurance companies as he built his real estate empire. This decision is in a case NY AG Letitia James brought. Note however, this case has a ways to go yet. The Supreme Court is not the top court in New York State. That is the Court of Appeals.

The trial is a bench trial. There is no jury involved. In essence, the judge ruled that Trump made his money by lying and cheating. The lies he told on his annual financial statements about how valuable his properties were got him favorable terms for loans and insurance. Lying on financial statements presented to banks and insurance companies is a crime in New York State. Maybe Trump isn't the brilliant businessman he claims to be. Maybe he is just a brilliant con man, who was able to successfully defraud big banks and insurance companies with carefully constructed fake financial statements. Of course, they could have done better due diligence, but it is hard for a bank to evaluate how much some golf course in Scotland is actually worth when the data it is presented with is fake.

Engoron's summary judgment resolves one of the seven claims in James' case. The actual trial on the other six claims will begin on Oct. 2. James is seeking a fine of $250 million and a ban on Trump doing business in New York State. No matter how the case turns out, Trump will not go to prison as this is a civil trial. But a fine of $250 million is something that pennypincher Trump would notice. Voters who support him because they think he is a great businessman might also be affected by Democratic ads saying that a judge has determined that he is a con man, a liar, and a cheat who defrauded multiple companies. Of course, some of them may think: "Boy, what a smart guy. He was able to swindle the big banks. I love it!" But others may be less impressed. (V)

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