(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $370 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.
Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engaging in a decade-long scheme in which they used “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate Trump’s net worth in order get more favorable loan terms. The trial comes after the judge in the case ruled in a partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted “fraudulent valuations” for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.
The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump’s alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Feb 07, 4:54 PM
NY AG says Weisselberg plea should not affect case
New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Wednesday that the potential guilty plea of former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg should have no bearing on the outcome the civil fraud case against former President Trump.
The attorney’s general’s office said it is unaware whether Weisselberg committed perjury while testifying in the case, but does not believe “this development should result in any delay of a final decision.”
Judge Arthur Engoron had asked the parties to weigh in after it was publicly reported that Weisselberg was engaged in plea talks with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to resolve a potential perjury charge.
“In sum, the fact that a defendant who lacks credibility and has already been to prison for falsifying business documents may have also perjured himself in this proceeding or the preceding investigation is hardly surprising,” the AG’s office said in a filing Wednesday, adding that “it should not delay a final decision and judgment imposing remedial measures in this law enforcement proceeding.”
Weisselberg testified during the trial that he was only peripherally involved in certifying the size of Trump’s Fifth Avenue apartment, but on the witness stand he was confronted with email suggesting otherwise.
Feb 06, 12:20 PM
Judge requests info about ex-CFO’s potential perjury
Judge Arthur Engoron is requesting more information about potential perjury committed by defendant Allen Weisselberg, the former Trump Organization CFO, according to an email shared on the court’s docket.
As ABC News has reported, Weisselberg is in plea talks with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to resolve a potential perjury charge, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“As the presiding magistrate, the trier of fact, and the judge of credibility, I of course want to know whether Mr. Weisselberg is now changing his tune, and whether he is admitting he lied under oath in my courtroom at this trial,” Engoron wrote in an email he sent to the parties on Monday.
Engoron requested both parties to send him a letter by Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET detailing “anything you know about this that would not violate any of your professional ethics or obligations.”
“I would also appreciate knowing how you think I should address this matter, if at all, including the timing of the final decision,” Engoron added.
The judge is still weighing his decision in the $370 million fraud case, which he originally indicated would come by the end of January.
Jan 29, 6:29 PM
Trump attorney criticizes independent monitor’s report
Trump attorney Clifford Robert on Monday blasted a report issued last week by the former judge appointed to monitor the Trump Organization as an inaccurate depiction of the firm’s finances intended to justify the continued oversight of the company.
Robert, in his letter Monday to Judge Arthur Engoron, said the report from independent monitor Barbara Jones “twists immaterial accounting items into a narrative favoring her continued appointment, and thereby the continued receipt of millions of dollars in excessive fees,” arguing that her report represented an “unacceptable level of disingenuity.”
“This is truly a joke,” Trump attorney Chris Kise told ABC News in a statement. “Indeed, it is shocking that President Trump has been forced to pay millions for a Monitor to prove what he has said from the outset, namely, there is no financial reporting misconduct, no fraud and simply no basis for this abusive process to continue.”
Jan 27, 6:55 PM
Trump Organization monitor flags financial misstatements
A report issued Friday by the former judge appointed to serve as the Trump Organization’s independent monitor by Judge Arthur Engoron found that the company has been cooperative, implemented some changes, and issued necessary corrections to financial statements; however, the report also outlined multiple errors and misstatements observed by the monitor over her 14 months in the role.
The report, by independent monitor Barbara Jones, was issued at the request of Judge Engoron ahead of his expected ruling in Trump’s civil fraud trial.
“It is important to note that the Trump Organization acknowledged the disclosure issues described after I brought them to its attention and has been open to recommendations to improve accuracy and transparency,” Jones wrote in her report.
However, Jones wrote, “Absent steps to address the items above, my observations suggest misstatements and errors may continue to occur, which could result in incorrect or inaccurate reporting of financial information to third parties.”
Jan 24, 4:11 PM
Trump attorney calls NY AG’s ‘Pharma Bro’ comparison ‘irresponsible’
A day after New York Attorney General Letitia James cited a ruling involving “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli to support a lifetime real estate ban for Donald Trump, a defense lawyer responded in a letter to the court calling the comparison “misplaced and irresponsible.”
The New York AG said Tuesday that a federal appeals court decision upholding a lifetime industry ban for Shkreli should convince Judge Arthur Engoron to impose a lifetime real estate ban on Trump.
Defense attorney Clifford Robert, in response, wrote Wednesday that “the absurdity of the Attorney General’s latest effort would be almost comical but for the sobering future consequences of her shameless abuse of power.”
Robert argued that Trump’s fraud case lacks witnesses, complaints, and victims compared to Shkreli’s case.
In a statement to ABC News, Trump attorney Chris Kise said the ruling in Trump’s case could have far-reaching implications for the New York business community.
“This is not just about President Trump. Every major bank CEO and every Wall Street participant should speak out now before the Attorney General’s shocking and tyrannical interference in the capital markets places all New York business transactions at risk,” Kise said.
Jan 23, 7:43 PM
NY AG cites ‘Pharma Bro’ ruling in seeking lifetime ban for Trump
The New York attorney general’s office says a federal appeals court decision upholding a lifetime industry ban for disgraced “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli should convince Judge Arthur Engoron to impose a lifetime real estate ban on Donald Trump.
In a letter to Judge Engoron, state attorney Colleen Faherty cited Tuesday’s decision in the Shkreli case to justify the NY AG’s request to ban the former president from the New York real estate industry for life.
According to Faherty, New York State Executive Law 63(12) — which was used in the NY AG’s lawsuits against both Trump and Shkreli — gives the court the ability to “issue a permanent and plenary ban in a particular industry.”
“63(12) is the Swiss Army knife of the AG’s Office,” said Tristan Snell, a former lawyer with the New York attorney General’s office who used the law to sue Trump over the now-defunct real estate seminar called Trump University. “If you don’t have laws like this in place, that you basically allow lies and misrepresentations to be endemic.”
A final decision in Trump’s civil fraud case is expected later this month.
Jan 19, 12:47 PM
James releases video of Trump’s April 2023 deposition
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday released video of former President Trump’s April 2023 deposition in the case.
Video of the deposition, the transcript of which was released by the attorney general in August 2023, was released as part of a public records request.
As ABC News reported in August, Trump in the deposition called his real estate portfolio “the Mona Lisa of properties” and suggested his assets were worth far more than what appeared in his statements of financial condition that are at the center of the New York AG’s case.
The videotaped deposition proved to be a preview of Trump’s testimony at trial earlier this month, in which he bragged about his finances and declared himself “an innocent man.”
Jan 16, 8:07 PM
Court of Appeals upholds limited gag order
New York’s highest court has upheld the limited gag order in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial.
“On the Court’s own motion, appeal dismissed, without costs, upon the ground that no substantial constitutional question is directly involved. Motion for a stay dismissed as academic,” New York’s Court of Appeals said in a two-sentence ruling issued Tuesday.
The gag order barred Trump and his lawyers from commenting on Judge Arthur Engoron’s staff during the former president’s 11-week civil fraud trial.
A decision in the case is expected later this month, after closing arguments wrapped up last week.
Jan 11, 5:34 PM
‘This case has never been about politics,’ James says
New York State Attorney General Letitia James, speaking to reporters outside court following the conclusion of closing arguments, dismissed the idea that her case against Donald Trump is about politics.
“This case has never been about politics, personal vendetta, or about name calling. This case is about the facts and the law, and Mr. Donald Trump violated the law,” James said.
James thanked her team, the judge, and Trump’s lawyers before repeating her confidence that “justice will be done” in the case.
“No matter how powerful you are, no matter how rich you are, no one is above the law,” she said.
Jan 11, 5:15 PM
Closing arguments conclude, ruling expected by Jan. 31
Judge Arthur Engoron asked state attorney Kevin Wallace to conclude the day’s proceedings by comparing Trump’s fraud to the actions of financier Bernie Madoff, who defrauded clients out of tens of billions of dollars in the 1990s and 2000s.
“How would you compare the fraud you are alleging to the Madoff Ponzi scheme?” Engoron said.
During a meandering response, Wallace acknowledged that Trump’s fraud was smaller, but “significant given the dollar amounts involved.”
“If you are rich enough, you going to be allowed to do it. You’ll get away with it,” Wallace said.
Engoron concluded the day by estimating that he would issue an opinion in the case by Jan. 31.
He then ended the proceedings.
Jan 11, 4:45 PM
The buck stopped at Trump, state lawyer says
The buck stopped at Donald Trump, and the court should hold him responsible for his company’s actions, according to state attorney Andrew Amer.
“The buck stopped with him, so he was responsible for all the conduct I just reviewed,” Amer said about Trump’s conduct between 2011 and 2015, before his sons took over the company when Trump won the White House.
Though defense attorneys have repeatedly criticized the testimony of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Amer highlighted that Trump’s lawyers never questioned the former president about his testimony that Trump instructed Cohen and then-CEO Allen Weisselberg to “reverse engineer” his financial statement to increase his net worth.
“Based on their decision not to question Mr. Trump on this critical point, the court should infer that the reverse engineering instructions were given by Mr. Trump, just as Mr. Cohen described,” Amer said.
Amer also highlighted what he said was Eric Trump’s inconsistent testimony about his knowledge of his father’s statement of financial condition.
“He went to great lengths to conceal from this court that he was fully aware that his father had a personal financial statement,” Amer said, claiming that Eric Trump and his brother Donald Trump Jr. “approved of and perpetuated those schemes with the intent to defraud.”
Judge Engoron, however, appeared skeptical of Amer’s argument about Trump’s adult sons — particularly Donald Trump Jr. — and interrupted the summation to question Amer.
“What evidence do you have — I just haven’t seen it — that they knew there was fraud?” Engoron said.
Amer responded that the sons should have known about the fraud given their role in the company, and that their inaction amounted to “sticking their heads in the sand.”
“They can’t say they didn’t bother paying attention to it. That is just not a defense,” Amer contended.
Jan 11, 3:40 PM
‘Cash crunch’ drove Trump to fraud, state alleges
The competing obligations between the costs of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and his business obligations created a “cash crunch” at the Trump Organization that motivated the former president to commit fraud, state attorney Kevin Wallace argued during his summation.
Wallace’s theory about the motivation for the alleged fraud, which he articulated for the first time, attempted to explain Trump’s motive for the alleged conduct as well as justify levying a fine against Trump in order to regulate the marketplace.
According to Wallace, the hundreds of millions of dollars saved by the Trump Organization through fraud allowed the company to “stay afloat” during a major “cash crunch” during the 2010s.
During the first half of the decade, the Trump Organization spent roughly $775 million to renovate properties including its Doral and Turnberry golf courses, as well as the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., Wallace said. The idea that the company could have funded these expenses with cash alone was a “fantasy,” according to Wallace.
“By the time you get to 2017, Mr. Trump was becoming president, and the company was getting low on cash,” Wallace said. Faced with the chance of a negative cash flow, the company opted to embrace fraud, according to Wallace.
“They didn’t have to choose between their priorities,” Wallace said about the company’s business expenses and Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump attorney Chris Kise objected to the argument, suggesting the theory was nothing more than conjecture — which prompted a heated exchange with Wallace.
“Chris. Stop. We didn’t interrupt the defendants’ presentation at all,” Wallace shouted while facing Kise.
“I think I agree with Mr. Kise,” Judge Engoron responded, but he allowed the presentation to continue.
Jan 11, 3:05 PM
State attorney says defense provided ‘no new facts’
“We’re back to hearing the same arguments,” Kevin Wallace, an attorney with the New York state AG’s office, began his closing statement following closing arguments from Trump’s defense team.
“Donald Trump is rich, banks like rich people,” Wallace said. “What we have not heard from defendants is any new facts.”
Wallace said the defense failed to assert that any of the alleged fraud was a mistake, other than the overvaluation of the Trump Tower penthouse, and that the defense did not argue the numbers Trump used on his statements of financial condition were accurate.
“If you look at it across time, it becomes clear that fraud was central to the operation of the Trump Organization’s business,” Wallace said.
Wallace took aim at the testimony of defense expert witnesses, calling them a “murderer’s row of experts” who Trump collectively paid at least $2.5 million.
“None of the experts actually presented evidence that is helpful to the court as a fact-finder,” Wallace claimed.
Defense attorney Chris Kise stood up to interject, calling Wallace’s murderer’s row reference “outrageous.” Wallace joked he was referring to the 1927 Yankees.
Jan 11, 1:48 PM
Trump, outside court, says ‘it’s been a pretty successful trial’
Moments after delivering his closing statement, Donald Trump exited the courtroom to criticize the trial as politically motivated.
“This is a political witch hunt the likes of which nobody’s ever seen before. They owe me damages for what they’ve done,” Trump said, repeating his claim that the case against him would scare businesses away from New York.
Nevertheless, the former president appeared pleased with his defense.
“It’s been a pretty successful trial,” said. “I don’t know that we’re going get a fair ruling. But everybody knows what I just said — this is a sham and it’s a shame,” Trump said.
With the defense team’s closings concluded, the state’s closing is scheduled to begin following a break.
Jan 11, 1:34 PM
‘Not how this should have been done,’ judge says of Trump statement
Judge Engoron mostly kept his head down for the duration of Donald Trump’s closing summation, which Trump delivered from his seat at the defense counsel table.
“This is not how this should have been done,” Engoron said seconds before Trump launched into his statement, which contained several accusations that Engonron had tried to prohibit Trump from making.
Calling the state attorneys “disgraceful” and the statute used against him “vicious,” Trump repeated many of his lawyer’s claims before arguing that he is the only victim of fraud in the case.
Trump also criticized Engoron himself, claiming that the judge would not listen to him.
“You can’t listen for one minute,” Trump said.
“Mr. Kise please control your client,” Engoron said while attempting to reign in Trump. But Trump continued.
“I did nothing wrong. They should pay me for what we had to go through,” Trump said. “She sued me to try to get publicity,” he said of New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Engoron then held up his phone screen to signal to Trump that he had run out of time for his remarks, then the judge called for a break.
Jan 11, 1:13 PM
Trump, ignoring judge’s warning, tells court he’s an ‘innocent man’
Before Judge Arthur Engoron could even get Trump to agree to the terms the judge had laid down for the delivery of Trump’s closing statement, the former president launched into a five-minute address while seated at the defense table.
It began when defense attorney Christopher Kise asked the judge to reconsider his decision and allow Trump to speak, and Engoron asked Trump if he would stay within the bounds of his closing argument.
Trump pressed immediately on.
“Well I think, your honor, this case goes outside the facts,” Trump said. “The financial statements were perfect. The banks got all their money back. They were as happy as can be.”
Ignoring the judge’s prohibition regarding delving into politics, Trump said, “This is a political witch hunt that should be set aside. We should receive damages for what we’ve gone through.”
He also attacked New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“I’m an innocent man. I’ve been persecuted by someone running for office,” Trump said. “This statute is vicious. It doesn’t give me a jury. It takes away my rights.”
He said the tripling of the square footage of his Trump Tower penthouse on his statement of financial condition was a mistake — “an honest mistake” that was corrected.
Trump declared, “This is a fraud on me. What’s happened here sir is a fraud on me.”
Jan 11, 1:00 PM
Lawyer says no evidence implicates Trump’s sons
Defense attorney Clifford Robert rounded out the defense summations by repeating claims that no evidence implicates his clients Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
“There is not one witness who says that Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr. had nothing more than peripheral involvement with the statement of financial condition” that’s at the heart of the case, Robert said. He added that even former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen — who he described as “the biggest liar on the face of the planet” — failed to implicate his clients.
Delivering his summation from the far side of the courtroom as if he was addressing the courtroom’s jury box, Robert frequently pointed to the courtroom’s gallery where Eric Trump sat in the first row.
“They have their futures ahead of them,” Robert implored Judge Engoron, warning that the case could result in a professional “death penalty” for Trump’s two eldest sons and could harm their families.
Like his co-counsel, Robert criticized the case as politically motivated.
“This is a press release wrapped up in a lawsuit,” he quipped.
Robert concluded his statement by requesting that all the causes of action alleged against Trump’s sons be dismissed.
Jan 11, 12:48 PM
Trump lawyer calls case ‘political agenda,’ drawing rebuke
The second of three defense attorneys to present closing arguments, Alina Habba, began her statement with accusations of political motives.
Habba, who also serves as Trump’s legal spokesperson, said, “This case started before Ms. James took office,” referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James. “You are now being dragged through a political agenda.”
The accusation prompted an interjection from Judge Engoron, who earlier in the week instructed Trump’s attorneys via email that Trump — should be participate in the closings — would have to abide by the same rules lawyers must adhere to when delivering a closing statement, namely “commentary on the relevant, material facts that are in evidence, and application of the relevant law to those facts.”
“You saw the email exchange,” Engoron reminded Habba. “So facts, law.”
Habba pivoted, declaring that Trump “is worth billions” and arguing that there could be no fraud. She said the Trump Organization and its executives relied on the company’s outside accounting firm, Mazars USA, to flag any impropriety with asset valuations and how they were calculated.
“We have wasted years, you and me, your honor, and for what?” Habba said.
Jan 11, 12:16 PM
Trump attorney warns ruling ‘impacts every corporation in NY’
Trump attorney Chris Kise wrapped up his closing statement by warning that the upcoming ruling in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial “impacts every corporation in New York.”
“This decision is not just about President Trump,” Kise said.
“What you do, judge, impacts every corporation in New York. The commercial marketplace would cease to exist as we know it,” Kise warned.
Kise repeated his claim that the alleged fraud lacks any witnesses, allegations of fraud, and lost money; instead, the case is simply the “weaponization” of New York Executive Law 63(12), he argued.
“You cannot allow the attorney general to pursue a victimless fraud and enforce the corporate death penalty,” Kise said.
Jan 11, 12:03 PM
‘You can’t just make up a number,’ Trump lawyer says of $370M fine
Trump’s attorney Chris Kise hammered away at the New York attorney general’s request for a fine of $370 million, calling the request “pure speculation” in his closing argument.
“You can’t just make up a number in the sky,” Kise argued, criticizing the New York AG for stepping into private transactions.
“The attorney general is going to come along ten years later because she does not like Donald Trump,” Kise said.
Arguing that Trump’s main lender at Deutsche Bank was happy to do business with the Trump Organization despite accusations that Trump overvalued his assets, Kise said that the state is attempting to rely on expert testimony due to a lack of testimony from bankers alleging wrongdoing.
Judge Engoron intervened twice during Kise’s argument to cast doubt on the claim that happy bankers mean there was no wrongdoing.
“If the bank doesn’t say it’s material, then it’s simply not material,” Kise responded.
“That’s not logically correct,” Engoron said. “You can’t just get a witness to say it was not material to us, so it was not material.”
Kise also spent a significant portion of his closing statement criticizing former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who he argued was the only witness to support the attorney general’s claim of a conspiracy to defraud lenders.
“We have an individual who comes into the courtroom and lies right in front of you, and the attorney general wants you to find him credible,” Kise said regarding Cohen reversing his testimony during the trial.
Jan 11, 10:58 AM
Trump lawyer says case ‘manufactured to pursue a political agenda’
Defense attorney Chris Kise began his closing argument by reciting the greatest hits of Trump’s defense case, highlighting the lack of victims, intent, and claims of wrongdoing.
According to Kise, Trump’s net worth is higher than claimed in his statement of financial condition, and the entire case was “manufactured to pursue a political agenda” by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“There is no testimony from anyone as to how the defendant’s conduct allegedly harmed the marketplace,” Kise said with Donald Trump looking on from three feet behind him.
Kise then touted the testimony of the former president, who he praised for “shaping the skyline of New York,” as evidence that he and his sons committed no wrongdoing.
“There are few people in the world who have succeeded in the real estate industry this well, that have been this successful,” Kise said of Trump.
Kise instead placed the blame for the case on Trump’s deputies at the Trump Organization and his accountants at Mazars USA.
“President Trump relied on multimillion-dollar accountants at Mazars,” Kise said. “Allen Weisselberg, Jeffrey McConney, and Donald Bender were the three most principally involved in the presentation and preparation of the statements of financial condition. Guess which one is a CPA? Bender.”
Jan 11, 10:22 AM
Closings underway with no mention of Trump’s role
Trump attorney Chris Kise began his closing argument after Judge Engoron opened the proceedings without addressing Trump’s desire to deliver part of the defense’s closing statement.
Trump is seated in his usual seat at the defense counsel table, sandwiched between his attorneys.
Engoron lobbed jokes while the pool cameras prepared to enter the courtroom.
“Lining them up — are they going to be shot or something?” the judge quipped. “I see the usual mixture of anticipation and dread out there. Trust me, this will be painless.”
Jan 11, 10:12 AM
‘I want to speak,’ Trump says on way into courtroom
Speaking to reporters before entering the courtroom, Donald Trump said he still hopes to deliver a portion of the closing statement despite Judge Engoron denying that request yesterday after Trump’s lawyers declined to agree with the rules Engoron set restricting Trump from making political statements and criticizing those involved in the trial.
“I want to speak, I want to make the summation,” Trump told reporters. “At this moment, the judge is not letting me make the summation because I’ll bring up things that he doesn’t want to hear.”
“So I hope to speak, and to help my lawyers reveal all of the defects of this case,” said Trump, who called the case “very unfair” and “very bad for New York state companies.”
Jan 11, 9:34 AM
Trump, James arrive at courthouse for closing arguments
Donald Trump has arrived via motorcade at the lower Manhattan courthouse where closing arguments are scheduled to take place.
The former president pulled up shortly after New York Attorney General Letitia James arrived.
Traffic around the courthouse was briefly disrupted about half an hour before Trump’s arrival by a group of protesters chanting “No dictators in the USA” as they waved signs and displayed a large banner.
Jan 11, 8:38 AM
Judge receives bomb threat ahead of closing arguments
Judge Arthur Engoron received a bomb threat at his New York home this morning, just hours before closing arguments are scheduled in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, according to a court official.
In light of the threat, the court is adding additional security for the judge, the court official said.
Nassau County Police bomb technicians responded to Engoron’s home out of an abundance of caution. Nassau County Police notified the court system of the threat, which they say they have determined to be unfounded.
Today’s court proceedings are expected to proceed as planned.
Jan 11, 8:23 AM
Trump to attend court, still hopes to present closing statement
Donald Trump is set to attend his civil fraud trial today, where he still hopes to participate in the defense’s closing statement despite Judge Arthur Engoron rejecting that request yesterday.
The former president last night dismissed the idea that spending time in the courtroom is impacting his campaign ahead of Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.
“No — we’re leading by record numbers,” Trump told ABC News.
The defense team’s closings are scheduled to take place from 10:15 a.m. ET to 12:45 p.m. ET, while the state’s closing is scheduled from 2:15 p.m. ET to 4:30 p.m. ET.
The defense plans to use most of its allotted time, and the attorney general’s office has indicated their closing statement would run roughly one hour, according to emails shared on the court’s docket yesterday.
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