Former President Donald Trump appeared in a New York court Monday as a civil fraud trial against him began, and he turned his appearance into a campaign stop of sorts.
Trump was not required to attend the trial, per NBC’s Dareh Gregorian, Adam Reiss, Chloe Atkins and Zoë Richards. But he went anyway, railing against the judge presiding over the case and against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the lawsuit roughly one year ago, alleging Trump overstated his wealth and detailing more than 200 instances of frauds over a decade.
Before he entered the courtroom, Trump tied the case directly to his presidential campaign, saying, “They’re trying to damage me so I don’t do as well as I’m doing.”
He laid into James, as he’s also ramped up his violent rhetoric on the campaign trail, per NBC News’ Jake Traylor.
Trump’s campaign also sent out a flurry of fundraising emails referencing his court appearance, looking to capitalize on fundraising boosts that have come with big moments in other legal battles.
In other campaign news …
Abortion politics: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared during a chaotic moment in last week’s GOP debate to voice support for the first time for a 15-week federal abortion ban, although his campaign is saying that’s in line with his previous comments on the issue, per the AP.
Palmetto State pitch: South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott’s national finance co-chair told donors to stand by his campaign until Scott’s home state holds its primary, saying, “We make the difference when we win South Carolina,” per Politico.
Buckeye State bucks: Ohio GOP Senate candidate Bernie Moreno will report raising $4 million during the third fundraising quarter, which includes $3 million from Moreno himself, per Politico.
Mark your calendars: Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has not yet said if he’s running for re-election as he faces bribery and corruption charges. But if he does, he’ll be running in a primary as his trial is underway. The trial was set to begin May 6, one month before the state’s June 4 primary.
Betting on Biden: Republicans in this year’s Kentucky and Mississippi governor’s races are trying to nationalize their races by tying Democrats to President Joe Biden, the AP writes.