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Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. (File)
Donald Trump lashed out on Wednesday at the judge presiding over his civil fraud trial in New York and told him ahead of testimony by his eldest son, Don Jr, to "leave my children alone."
Don Jr, 45, and his younger brother, Eric Trump, 39, are expected to take the witness stand this week in the trial for financial fraud that threatens to deal a heavy blow to the former president's business empire.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, attacked Judge Arthur Engoron, who is hearing the case, in a series of scathing posts on his Truth Social platform, calling him a "political hack" who is "doing the dirty work for the Democrat Party."
"Engoron is crazy, totally unhinged, and dangerous," the 77-year-old former president said. "Leave my children alone, Engoron. You are a disgrace to the legal profession!"
If all goes according to the court schedule, Don Jr will testify on Wednesday followed on Thursday by Eric Trump.
Both are executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, a sprawling network of companies managing residential and office skyscrapers, luxury hotels and golf courses around the world.
New York state attorney general Letitia James accuses the brothers -- and their father -- of fraudulently inflating the value of the group's assets by billions of dollars to obtain more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.
Trump himself may be questioned on Monday, a day shy of one year before the November 5, 2024 presidential election that he hopes will sweep him back into the White House.
The former president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who left the Trump Organization in 2017 to join the White House as an advisor to her father, may follow two days later. She is not a defendant in the case but was previously involved in the family business.
'There was no fraud'
Don Jr and Eric Trump took control of the Trump Organization when their father entered the White House and are unlikely to deviate from the line taken by the family's defense attorneys since the trial began a month ago.
They assert that the subjective valuations of the group's assets, such as Trump Tower and a building at 40 Wall Street, were sincere and banks did not lose any money lending to the Trump Organization.
"The Banks and Insurance Companies were paid in full, no defaults, they all made money, and there is no Victim (except me!)" Donald Trump said on Truth Social on Wednesday. "My Financial Statements are GREAT! There was no fraud."
Donald Trump also said he would appeal a partial gag order imposed by Engoron on October 3 that bars him from attacking court staff -- though not the judge himself.
Engoron has fined the former president twice already -- $5,000 and $10,000 -- for violating the order by attacking his law clerk.
The former president does not risk going to jail in the fraud trial, but faces up to $250 million in penalties and potential removal along with his sons from management of the family real estate empire.
Trump is not required to attend the trial, but he has shown up sporadically, using his appearances to portray himself as the victim of a supposed Democratic plot to derail his White House campaign.
The civil fraud trial is one of several legal battles facing Trump as he seeks to recapture the presidency.
He is to go on trial in Washington in March for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election and in Florida in May on charges of mishandling top secret government documents.
The twice-impeached former president also faces racketeering charges in Georgia for allegedly conspiring to upend the election results in the southern state after his 2020 defeat by Democrat Joe Biden.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)