Former President Donald Trump is “throwing in the towel” in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case accusing him of business fraud, former Department of Justice (DOJ) official John Yoo warned on Monday.
Trump, who is running in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, appeared in New York court on Monday for his trial into the business fraud allegations. James accused the former president of inflating his net worth by billions of dollars to obtain benefits such as better bank loans and reduced tax bills between 2011 and 2021.
Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the case, ruled last week that Trump, his adult sons, their businesses and executives committed fraud, and will now decide on six other accusations, including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy claims during the trial.
Yoo, who served as a deputy assistant attorney general under former President George W. Bush, said Trump is deploying both a legal and political strategy during the trial and that they are at “great odds” with each other.
“I think that Trump has already decided he’s going to lose on the law. Last week, the judge already made all the key findings against him. So what I think President Trump has done is turn this all into a political strategy,” he said during an interview appearance on Fox News.
Trump maintained a defiant tone against Engoron and James as he headed for the courtroom, calling the trial a “continuation of the single biggest witch hunt of all time,” attacking both Engoron and James.
“We have a rogue judge who rules that properties are worth a tiny fraction, 1/100th, a tiny fraction of what they are. We have a racist attorney general who is a horror show who ran on the basis that she was going to get Trump before she even knew anything about me,” the former president said.
Trump has cast the legal system as being biased against him, accusing prosecutors of targeting him for political purposes. His messaging has connected with Republican primary voters, who have continued to support him amid his legal woes. Polls show that he remains the frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary.
Yoo said Trump’s remarks were “aimed at the political sphere” and “could only make sure that he’s going to lose” his legal case. Attacking Judge Engoron makes it less likely that he would rule in the former president’s favor, Yoo said, adding that Trump would likely lose the case on appeal.
“I think what you’re seeing here is actually throwing in the towel on the law and using it instead as a platform to amplify his political message. But that political message will tube and tank his ability to prevail at all in this legal proceeding,” he said.
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment via email.
The former president may be ordered to pay damages, but is not facing criminal charges in this non-jury trial, which is separate from his four criminal cases where he maintains his innocence.
Still, legal experts have said the outcome of the trial could significantly hamper his ability to conduct business in New York.
Engoron last week ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses in New York be rescinded and that the companies that own some of his properties be handed over to independent receivers. Legal experts have described the ruling as the corporate death penalty, while former Trump attorney Michael Cohen on Sunday said it could be a financial catastrophe for him.