Trump denounces 'scam' at $250m New York fraud trial

In a day of courtroom drama, former President Donald Trump attacked a judge and prosecutor as he attended the opening of a fraud trial that could imperil his business empire.

Monday, as Mr. Trump voluntarily entered the room in a blue suit and walked past the prosecutor who brought the case, he gazed forward as he passed the prosecutor.

In the front pew, state attorney general Letitia James averted her gaze. As each party presented its case during the remainder of opening statements, their paths did not cross.

Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, a number of executives, and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Eric, are the defendants in the New York Superior Court civil trial.

They are charged with fraud, falsifying business records, issuing fraudulent financial statements, and conspiracy.

The former president occasionally peered in the direction of Judge Arthur Engoron as he addressed the court as the trial began. Moments earlier, in an outburst that echoed throughout the courtroom, Mr. Trump had referred to the judge as a "rogue adjudicator"

Observers anticipated a tense courtroom environment. But the three central characters in the legal drama had few direct interactions.

While prosecutors presented their case, Mr. Trump sat still for the most part and occasionally whispered to his legal team.

Ms. James maintained her eyes on the attorney revealing the visual presentation that accompanied her team's opening statements.

Her lawyers accused Mr. Trump and his co-defendants of purposeful and repeated fraud that garnered him over $100 million (£83 million). Last week, Judge Engoron found that Mr. Trump had inflated his properties by hundreds of millions of dollars to get bank loans.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump's attorneys took the stand and attacked the arguments of the New York attorney general.

Alina Habba stated that Ms. James's objective as attorney general was to "go to work, get Trump, and go home" She asserted that Mr. Trump did not inflate the value of his assets, including his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago.

She stated that real estate was malleable and that his properties were "Mona Lisas" - she argued that Mar-a-Lago would sell for at least a billion dollars. Before lunch, however, the proceedings became increasingly fractious.

Chris Kise, Mr. Trump's attorney, disputed with Judge Engoron over expert testimony. Judge Engoron was furious at Ms Habba's attacks on Ms James.

Previously, the judge denied political motivation in the lawsuit. The attorney general's office called former Trump accountant Donald Bender as the afternoon session's first witness.

Mr. Bender claimed to have prepared Trump's tax returns and accounting for Trump-owned corporations.

He testified in a Manhattan criminal prosecution against the Trump Organization last year, alleging it tried to avoid bonuses and luxury perk taxes.

First day of the three-month trial ended with his two-hour evidence on Monday, focusing on technical questions about his Trump Organization work. Judge Engoron, not a jury, decides.

As this is a civil case and not a criminal one, none of the defendants will face prison time if found guilty.

Ms. James seeks $250 million (£207 million) and sanctions that could prevent the Trumps from conducting business in New York. Mr. Trump may even lose some of the properties that have become an integral part of his brand. The consequences have never been higher.