WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former President Donald Trump was on the stand Monday in New York City to testify in the civil trial which alleges he and his companies inflated their assets in fraudulent financial statements.
The civil trial started last month after a New York judge found Trump and his co-defendants liable for “persistent and repeated fraud.”
The former president, co-defendants and Trump’s businesses could be forced to pay hefty fines. Among the list of allegations include insurance fraud, falsifying business records and issuing false financial statements. Additionally, the New York Attorney General is seeking to bar Trump from doing business in the state and to dissolve his companies.
“The importance of this case is whether or not Donald Trump is going to have the ability to do business in the state of New York anymore, his former home state, and whether or not he has to pay a number of fines,” said Dr. Todd Belt, Professor and Director of Political Management at George Washington University. “More importantly, it actually cuts at his integrity as a businessman and whether or not he’s really as successful as people think he is,” Belt added.
As far as his bid for the presidency, Belt believes this trial will continue to help Trump in the short-term.
“We’ve seen Republicans really rally behind him every time there’s an indictment,” said Belt. “Every time he gets his name out there and is in the spotlight, it squeezes everybody else who’s in the field running for the presidency out of the spotlight. It helps him,” he added.
Trump has repeatedly said the trial is a scam and politically motivated. Belt predicts Trump will continue to do so.
“He’s going to use this as an opportunity, as he always does, to take bad news and turn it into good politics. He’s going to talk about himself being a victim, and by extension, his voters also being victims of this ‘deep state’ and ‘highly politicized Justice Department’,” said Belt.
But using that rhetoric may not work as well for Trump’s criminal trials as it has for the civil cases. According to Belt, recent polling of voters indicates different feelings behind the motivation of each type of trial.
“In our GW Politics poll, we asked whether or not people believed that these court cases were politicized, as Donald Trump says they are. When we asked about the civil trials, particularly the one with the payoff to Stormy Daniels, people were more likely to say it was politicized,” said Belt. “But then when we asked them about the January 6 trial and the trial in Georgia on the election fraud, people were less likely to say. So what really could come to bear here is which of these trials is in the public mind when we get to next year,” Belt added.
New polls from the New York Times and Sienna College found President Biden trailing trump by margins of four-to-ten percent in five out of six key swing states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. The poll shows Biden ahead in Wisconsin by two percent.
“For any president sitting with this sort of likability ratings that Biden has, it would be really devastating. But then again, he’s probably going to be going up against Donald Trump, who had equally bad ratings at the same time,” said Belt. “The Biden people think that when it becomes a binary choice between Biden and Trump, they’re going to win. The Trump people think so as well,” Belt added.