Trump's civil fraud trial begins in New York

Donald Trump today attended his civil fraud trial in New York: the one over lies he told lenders about the value of his properties to secure loans. He's at a disadvantage, becuase the judge already ruled him a "persistent and repeated" fraud, but he has the ineffable advantage of being Trump in an environment designed to serve people such as he.

Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion in three separate years between 2011 and 2021, according to the attorney general's office. Attorneys for Trump have refuted the claims, arguing that asset valuations are highly subjective and that they are still sorting through what the ruling means for the company's future.

Trump's strategy so far is to rant about the prosecutor, Letitia James—an endless distraction from whatever truly matters in court.

The case is a bench trial, meaning it will be decided not by a jury but by Judge Engoron. He has said it could take as long as three months to hear the case. Mr Trump and the other defendants in the case have argued that they never committed fraud. The ex-president has already attacked the judge, accusing him of carrying out what he claimed was a politically motivated witch-hunt. Judge Engoron's ruling last week resolved the key claim of fraud in Ms James' lawsuit, leaving the trial to focus on a more narrow set of six remaining fraud claims and on determining penalties against Mr Trump.