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Law Professor Compares Trump’s ‘Unjust’ $355 Million Fraud Judgment to Burr Killing Hamilton

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A Northwestern University law school professor has sounded off following New York Judge Arthur Engoron’s massive $355 million fraud finding against former President Donald Trump, calling it the most “unjust” act in U.S. politics since an 1804 dual between Revolutionary War figures.

“The civil fraud judgment against Donald Trump is a travesty and an unjust political act rivaled only in American politics by the killing of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton by Vice President Aaron Burr,” Steven Calabresi wrote for Reason’s Volokh Conspiracy.

In July 1804, Burr fatally shot Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey, following a prolonged and acrimonious political rivalry between the two. Burr was charged with murder for his actions, but the case never made it to trial.

In his op-ed, the Northwestern Law School professor and Federalist Society co-chairman called on the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene over the “grossly excessive fine” and “Kafkaesque civil trial.”

Calabresi wrote that, at most, Trump is guilty of tax fraud.

“The New York State laws used to go after Trump have NEVER been used in this way, historically, and while Trump may owe some back state taxes, if Judge Engoron is right, not a single bank claimed that it had been defrauded by Trump in the loans it had made to him,” he wrote. “This is truly a victimless crime.”

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Trump spokeswoman and attorney Alina Habba has vowed legal vengeance against New York Attorney General Letitia James after she managed to win a massive $355 million settlement from the former president in a civil fraud case last week.

Engoron gave James nearly all of the $370 million she sought against Donald Trump and his two sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, after he decided last fall that they had committed fraud in order to secure more favorable loan rates from banks by overinflating the value of their assets.

In an interview on Friday with Fox News host Sean Hannity — the day of Engoron’s ruling —  Habba said that “the biggest message” she could give is that Engoron and James were “not going to get away with it. She also suggested that James may have coordinated with the Biden administration.

“There is a point, and I want to say something that I don’t normally do; we have the order now; I’m free to speak. And let me just say […]; they will not get away with it. We will come at them, we will come hard, and we will literally fight until the truth comes out,” she said.

“There was nothing wrong. President Trump has done nothing wrong. All he has done is won a campaign, and that is scaring them. Because they know when he goes back in November 2024, he is going to clean house, and that is truly the problem,” she added.

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Shark Tank star and investor Kevin O’Leary said this week that former President Donald Trump’s fraud ruling is making him rethink investing in the “mega loser state” of New York.

“I’m not different than any other investor. I’m shocked at this. I can’t even understand or fathom the decision at all. There’s no rationale for it,” O’Leary said during an interview on Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto Coast To Coast.”

In an interview with “Fox & Friends Weekend,” O’Leary even said it’s not necessarily about Trump.

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“Forget about the Trump factor,” he said. “It’s not about that. What does this say to everybody that wants to do work in New York and wants to risk capital? … this judge arbitrarily decide[d] that this is the right amount. I don’t understand it. No developer does.”

He added, “It’s an atrocity. It’s an embarrassment, but it’s an assault on real estate.”

O’Leary pointed out that very few business sectors generate the level of cash flow that real estate does.

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