Trump to address supporters after $354.9 million fraud ruling


By Nathan Layne and Gram Slattery

MT. PLEASANT, Mich./COLUMBIA, SC. (Reuters) – Donald Trump will address supporters at a campaign rally on Saturday for the first time since a New York judge ruled he must pay $354.9 million in penalties for fraudulently overstating his net worth to dupe lenders.

The former president, set to appear at an election rally in Michigan, was scheduled to speak at the same time as Nikki Haley, his last remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, who was due to hold an event in South Carolina.

On Saturday morning, Haley wasted no time in going after Trump after Friday’s ruling, which handed him another legal setback in a civil case that imperils his real estate empire.

Trump also faces four state and federal criminal trials, including one scheduled to start in New York on March 25, over alleged hush money payments to a porn star. That means Trump will become the first former U.S. president to stand trial on criminal charges.

Haley frequently says “chaos” follows Trump, and that he can’t be an effective president or candidate because of his myriad legal problems.

“He’s going to be in court March and April. He’s going to be in court May and June. He said himself that he’s going to be spending more time in a courtroom than he is on the campaign trail,” Haley told Fox News.

Trump reacted furiously to Friday’s ruling in posts on his social media platform, after Justice Arthur Engoron also banned Trump from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation for three years.

New York Attorney General Letitia James had accused Trump and his family businesses of overstating his net worth by as much $3.6 billion a year over a decade to fool bankers into giving him better loan terms.

In posts on his social media platform, Trump called Engoron “crooked,” James “corrupt,” and the case against him “ELECTION INTERFERENCE” and a “WITCH HUNT.”

Trump is close to clinching the Republican presidential nomination, and the prospect of a likely general election rematch with Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden, after recent nominating contest wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Before his rally in Michigan, which holds Republican nominating contests on Feb. 27 and March 2, Trump was due to appear at a convention for sneaker fans in Philadelphia.

Haley, who has no clear path to the Republican nomination, has refused to quit. She is making a potential last stand in her home state of South Carolina, which holds its primary on Feb. 24, where she trails badly in opinion polls behind Trump.

On Friday, Haley also attacked Trump for his failure to comment on the death of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader.

Russia’s prison service said that Navalny, 47, died on Friday at the “Polar Wolf” Arctic penal colony. The West, including Biden, blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the death. Western leaders did not cite evidence.

Haley has accused Trump of cozying up to Putin and other authoritarian leaders.

“Anybody that can’t call out a dictator, that’s a problem,” Haley told CNN on Friday.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne and Gram Slattery; Additional reporting by Jason Lange,; Writing by Tim Reid, Editing by Alistair Bell)



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