Donald Trump, a convicted fraudster: 355 million fine

The Trump myth is based on the fact that the ex-president sells himself as a brilliant entrepreneur. With the verdict in the New York fraud trial, this self-image is gone. Trump is above all: a notorious liar. Can he even pay the money?

The lie is the constant in the life of Donald J. Trump. When the Republican began his political career in 2016, he came in second place in the first Iowa caucuses. Trump claimed at the time that his victory had been stolen from him – that was untrue.

Four years later, Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden, again he spoke of election fraud, another lie. In New York City, Trump has now been fined $355 million because he and his sons manipulated the value of the Trump Organization over many years in order to obtain cheaper loans and insurance. Trump lied about the size and value of his properties. The 77-year-old uses the lie not only as a political tool, but also as an economic one. The human being Donald Trump functions through lies; it is the constitutive element of his character.

As of the verdict on February 16, 2024, Trump is not only a former President of the United States who has been impeached twice, but also a convicted fraudster. And what may be even more serious for him than the fine is that Trump will not be allowed to supervise his company’s business in the city of New York for three years. Of course he will appeal. Trump will neither transfer the money tomorrow nor immediately withdraw from day-to-day business in New York. But if this verdict stands, it would be devastating for him. The Trump myth is largely based on the fact that he is a successful businessman.

Trump is now using the ruling for his election campaign. On Friday evening, he claimed that the Democrats and Joe Biden personally were persecuting him politically. “This country is now worse than Russia ever was,” Trump said after the verdict – less than twelve hours after it became known that Alexei Navalny had died in a Russian prison camp. Trump’s ruthlessness knows no bounds when it comes to his own interests.

Not a brilliant performance by the judge

In his reaction, the ex-president described Judge Arthur F. Engoron, who handed down the verdict against him, as “corrupt.” There is no evidence to suggest that Trump is right here, but the court case has raised questions. Engoron had already announced at the beginning of the trial that he considered Trump guilty and that the oral hearing would only be about the sentence.

The judge had already studied the files and formed his verdict. This is legitimate, but difficult to reconcile with the general sense of justice. Engoron also denied Trump a jury trial. That was permissible, but not clever. Jury trials are considered the gold standard in the United States, Engoron should have used them. A jury verdict would have made the punishment more legitimate.

Donald Trump does not have to fear that his “Make America Great Again” Republicans will now turn away from him. On the contrary: For them, the verdict is evidence of Trump’s claim that he is being politically persecuted. When exactly the case could go into a possible next round is currently completely open. Criminal proceedings against Trump will begin in New York at the end of March.

Afterwards, special investigator Jack Smith wants to try the ex-president in the capital Washington for attempted election fraud. It is quite possible that an appeal process cannot be scheduled until next year. New York’s attorney general pointed out Friday that Trump would also have to pay interest on the fine. The amount would already amount to over 460 million US dollars.

Does Trump even have that much money at his disposal? Nobody knows for sure at the moment, Trump’s corporate network is too confusing. He himself would of course say that he has the money. Whether that’s true or not, it wouldn’t be his first lie.