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Donald Trump testifies in New York court in civil fraud trial

The former US president remains the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination despite numerous legal woes.

Donald Trump has begun testifying in a New York courtroom in a civil fraud trial that has placed the former US president’s business practices under scrutiny.

Trump’s appearance in the Manhattan courtroom on Monday follows testimony from two of his sons last week, and Trump himself could face questions about dubious accounting practices that a judge has already deemed fraudulent.

“It is a very sad situation for our country,” Trump told reporters outside of the courtroom, calling his critics “thugs” and the trial a form of “political warfare”. Trump was previously placed under a narrow gag order after making disparaging remarks about court staff.

The ex-president is struggling with a long list of legal woes, including four criminal trials, some related to his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, in addition to the civil trial focused on his practices as a businessman.

Yet, his legal troubles have done little to damage his popularity with Republican voters, and he remains the overwhelming favourite in the race to become the party’s candidate for the 2024 US election.

New York state lawyers have argued that Trump used deceptive methods to artificially inflate his net worth, winning him access to favourable loans and deals.

In late September, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump had indeed committed fraud for years by massively overstating his wealth. Several other claims in the case have yet to be resolved, alongside potential punishment.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case against Trump, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, and executives with the Trump Organization, is seeking $250m in fines and a ban on Trump or his sons from doing business in New York state.

Engoron has previously fined Trump $15,000 for violating a narrow gag order that allowed him to criticise the trial but barred him from making comments about court staff.

In recent days, Trump has called the judge a “wacko” and a “RADICAL LEFT, DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVE” in posts on social media.

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