Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, set out to prove that Donald J. Trump had committed fraud. Mr. Trump took the stand to assail Ms. James. Lawyers on both sides screamed that their opponents were out of line and wasting time.
When 11 weeks of chaotic courtroom wrangling ended Wednesday, the fate of Mr. Trump’s civil fraud trial began to move behind the scenes and into the hands of Arthur F. Engoron, the unconventional New York judge overseeing the case. And because the judge will decide the verdict — there is no jury — he will determine the future of Mr. Trump’s role in his family business.
Justice Engoron ruled before the trial began that Mr. Trump had fraudulently inflated his net worth, and announced an initial round of punishments. That blow recast the trial as a battle over how steep a penalty the former president would face. Ms. James has indicated that she may press for a fine well above the $250 million she originally sought and will ask the judge to bar Mr. Trump from running a business in the state, banishing him from the world that made him famous decades ago.
The attorney general’s arguments seemed to persuade the judge, and under the powerful New York law underpinning the case, he has broad authority to punish Mr. Trump. His decision is expected as soon as next month, after closing arguments in court.
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