Fmr. President Trump fraud trial kicks off in NY this week

Former President Donald Trump is headed to trial in New York this week over his and the Trump Organization's fraudulent business dealings. NY Attorney General Letitia James is pursuing a $250 million fine in a civil lawsuit alleging Trump engaged in years of fraudulent practices, including the overvaluing of at least 23 different commercial properties.

Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Rick Newman breaks down the details of Trump's history of alleged fraud while evaluating how this trial could potentially impact his 2024 presidential campaign.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Video Transcript

- Former President Trump's fraud trial in New York starting off with a bang this week. The Civil lawsuit that Attorney General Letitia James filed against Trump, his three children, and real estate company, claims they engaged in a number of X of fraud and misrepresentation for at least a decade. The suit claiming Trump knowingly and consistently overstated the value of at least 23 commercial properties with the intention of getting lower interest rates and cheaper insurance.

The AG wants the family and company to pay $250 million. The amount they apparently saved by allegedly misleading banks and insurers. Joining us now with what's on his radar, we've got Yahoo Finance's Reporter Rick Newman. Hey, Rick.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, guys. I think this trial is going to be very interesting, not necessarily every day, but I think the outcome will fill in a lot of blanks in terms of former President Donald Trump his business career, how he managed his businesses, and things that we sort of heard about on the fringes when he was president. I mean, some people may remember, there was a big New York Times expose about how he supposedly cheated on his taxes by undervaluing his properties and his net worth when it came time to pay taxes.

But then, overvaluing them when he wanted to claim a lot of collateral for getting bigger loans than he might have been able to get. So, that's what this lawsuit is about. This is not one of the four criminal prosecutions. Those are not going to get started in-- those trials won't start until next year. But this is going to tell us a lot about how Trump managed his businesses.

And Trump himself, supposedly, is going to testify here under oath. So, he is going to have to explain things such as why an 11,000 square foot apartment was listed as a 33,000 square foot apartment on business forms, and some of those things like that. So, we know from other instances when Trump has been involved in litigation, that the-- he is quite a different storyteller when he's under oath than when he is blustering in front of the cameras or to the media.

So, I think there could be some interesting moments that come out of this. And let's remember, Trump is still running for President in 2024, so this could be a factor.

- Yeah, Rick, how big of a factor? I know you and I have talked about this before, but how big of a factor do you see this potentially being when we shift our focus to 2024?

RICK NEWMAN: Well, I mean, we know from all these prosecutions against Trump that it hasn't affected his support among the so-called Trump base and the Republican Party at all. I mean, his approval rating within the Republican Party is actually higher now than it was before any of these four criminal prosecutions got underway. And we also know that Trump has been using all these prosecutions as a fundraising effort, and it's working.

I mean, and he's doing that-- he's doing that with the New York trial as well. I mean, he sent out several fundraising emails yesterday. The Democrats in New York are persecuting me, send money. I just got one of those fundraising emails about 10 minutes ago. So he's been very good at that.

I guess the thing that I'm kind of looking for here is-- I mean, sometimes things change the outlook on elections in ways you just don't anticipate. And it can be a surprise moment that comes out of nowhere, you know, that kind of goes viral. So, will there be anything in this trial or any of the others that sort of catch Trump looking weak or foolish or anything like that?

It-- who knows? But, you know, I think that this is not going to be a predictable path to Trump necessarily, just walking right into the Republican nomination in 2024. There are many unpredictable things that could happen. And some of them could happen in this trial that's just started in New York.