Trump to address supporters after $355m fraud ruling By Reuters

©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former US President Donald Trump gestures on the day of a court hearing on charges of falsifying business records to cover a hush money payment to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election, at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan

By Nathan Layne and Gram Slattery

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

The former president, who was scheduled to appear at a campaign rally in Michigan, was due to speak at the same time as Nikki Haley, the 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 dealt him another legal setback in a civil suit that imperils his real estate empire.

Trump also faces four state and federal criminal trials, including one starting in New York on March 25, for alleged cash payments to a porn star. This means Trump will become the first former US president to be tried on criminal charges.

Haley often says that “chaos” follows Trump and that he cannot be an effective president or candidate due to his myriad legal problems.

“He’ll be in court in March and April. He’ll be in court in May and June. He himself has said he’ll spend more time in a courtroom than on the campaign trail,” Haley told Fox News.

Trump reacted furiously to Friday’s ruling in posts on his social media platform, after Judge Arthur Engoron also barred 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’s businesses of overstating his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion a year over a decade to deceive bankers into giving him better loan terms.

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

Trump is close to winning the Republican presidential nomination and the prospect of a likely general election rematch with Democratic US President Joe Biden, after recent victories in nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Ahead of his rally in Michigan, which hosts Republican nominating contests on Feb. 27 and March 2, Trump appeared at a convention for sneaker fans in Philadelphia, where he launched his own sneaker brand, featuring the golden top and the American flag logos.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” Trump said, before urging young people to vote.

Haley, who has no clear path to the Republican nomination, has refused to resign. He is potentially making a last stand in his home state of South Carolina, which will hold its primary on February 24, where he is trailing behind Trump in opinion polls.

On Friday, Haley also attacked Trump for not commenting on the death of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader.

The Russian prison service said that Navalny, 47, died on Friday in the Arctic penal colony “Polar Wolf”. The West, including Biden, blamed the death on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Western leaders cited no evidence.

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

“Anyone who can’t denounce a dictator, that’s a problem,” Haley told CNN on Friday.

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