Businessman Joe Lonsdale: Trump fraud verdict 'obviously' political, 'scary'

 February 26, 2024

Businessman Joe Lonsdale blasted the draconian fine imposed on Donald Trump by a New York judge as "scary" and "not how this country is supposed to work."

Trump was fined over $450 million by Judge Arthur Engoron for "fraud," even as the judge acknowledged there were no victims in the case.

The verdict has led to shock and alarm even among Trump's foes, including Jeb Bush, who co-authored a Wall Street Journal article with Lonsdale defending Trump.

"Scary" Trump decision

Lonsdale told CNN host Michael Smerconish that the verdict is "obviously" excessive and politically motivated.

Echoing Trump's own rhetoric about the Biden "regime," Lonsdale said he fears the government is being "weaponized" against political opponents and business will suffer.

"It’s like basically what happens in these countries when you have a regime take over that’s going after its enemies," he said. "You weaponize it and you penalize people in ridiculous ways. This is an obvious example of that."

Lonsdale said he and his friends in business are not fans of Trump, but they find the excessive punishment "scary."

"This is why it’s scary to my friends who do business, who don’t even like Trump because it’s a $400,000,000 fine for something where there’s no victims is obviously a weaponization of government and everyone knows on its face."

"They know that penalizing that much in business is clearly weaponization," he said. "That’s not how the country is supposed to work."

Trump embraces "dissident" label

Lonsdale noted that New York governor Kathy Hochul (D) appeared to admit that Trump was being singled out.

The governor said businesspeople in New York have nothing to fear because "they’re very different than Donald Trump and his behavior."

But investor Kevin O'Leary said the standard used to find Trump guilty of fraud would get "every real estate developer on Earth" in trouble.

"If this judgment sticks. Every developer must be jailed. They must be found guilty. They must be put out of business. You can’t do this to one another. It’s not about Trump," he told the New York Post. 

In his blistering opinion, Engoron acknowledged the "timely and total repayment" of Trump's loans but insisted Trump's "false" financial statements merited a stiff punishment anyway.

At CPAC this weekend, Trump declared himself a "political dissident" and vowed to bring justice back to America.

“For hardworking Americans, Nov. 5 will be our new liberation day," he declared.

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