Donald Trump to take the stand: What to know before he testifies in real estate fraud trial

Donald Trump

Donald Trump to take the stand

Donald Trump is set to take the stand Monday as he fights a New York civil fraud lawsuit seeking $250 million and restrictions on his ability to do business in the state.

Key Points

  • Scheduled testimony follows heated social media posts about the judge and a gag order protecting court staff.
  • State attorney general seeking permanent ban against Trump running a New York corporation.

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump is set to testify on Monday in a high-stakes Manhattan trial that could cost him $250 million and prevent his renowned firm from functioning in New York, following his observation of his sons Eric and Don Jr. enduring agonizing testimony last week.

It is Justice Arthur Engoron of the State Supreme Court who placed Donald Trump under investigation; on Friday, he expanded the gag order he had placed on the former president to include the Trump legal team. Engoron has penalized Trump twice for breaking the gag order.

Letitia James, the state attorney general of New York, and Engoron, both elected Democrats, have accused the Republican front-runner for president in 2024 of conducting a “witch hunt” during his fraud trial.

Donald Trump referred to this decision as “the corporate death penalty” after Engoron said in September that he and the other defendants in the case had falsely exaggerated the value of billions of dollars worth of assets. Engoron also declared that certain entities connected to the defendants would lose their New York company certificates. Additionally, the judge punished Trump’s defense team for continuously putting up “bogus arguments,” such as the claim that square footage is arbitrary.

But Engoron’s September bombshell only addressed a portion of James’ 222-page legal complaint accusing Trump and others of persistent and repeated fraud.

Here’s what to know about the high-stakes Donald Trump testimony on Monday.

What is the Trump New York trial about?

A number of accusations are being tried in this trial, including that Trump, his adult sons, and executives of the Trump Organization committed insurance fraud and manipulated company financial accounts. The testimony will also help Engoron decide whether to inflict any additional punishment at all.

Fantasy World?: ‘Fantasy world’: Donald Trump faces New York trial Monday for damages after judge finds fraud in real estate empire

James seeks to impose a 5-year ban on the father and the Trump Organization from purchasing real estate in New York or making loan applications with New York banks, in addition to permanently prohibiting Trump and his two oldest sons from operating a business in the city. The attorney general’s office has requested that Engoron compel the defendants to give up any earnings resulting from the purported fraud, a fine that might amount to a quarter of a billion dollars.

The case against Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of Trump and a former top White House advisor, was initially dismissed by a New York appeals court on the grounds that too much time had passed since her participation with the Trump Organization. Ivanka will testify on Wednesday after Engoron denied her attempt to contest a state subpoena, thus she cannot avoid testifying despite this.

What happened with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump?

Last week, questions about alleged falsifications in their father’s financial statements—which the state claims were used to obtain bank loans on deceptive terms—were directed toward Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. For many years, the brothers have had a close role in their father’s business operations.

The brothers blamed corporate accountants for any inconsistencies in the financial accounts, denying any intimate knowledge of them.

If the former president’s testimony lines up with that of his sons, only time will tell. Trump has declared in public that his financial records are “phenomenal” and that his true net worth is “substantially more” than what they showed.

Trump claimed last week on social media that the out-of-control, publicity-seeking New York State Judge had “PERSECUTED in a political Witch Hunt” his kids.

The drama surrounding the defense’s assaults on Allison Greenfield, the senior legal clerk for Richard Engoron, with whom Engoron occasionally exchanges notes on the bench, overshadowed Eric Trump’s testimony on Friday. Engoron issued his first gag order last month after Trump claimed on social media that Greenfield “is running this case against me.”

On Friday, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise complained that the exchanges created a “perception of bias.”

The judge stated in his Friday ruling, “Since the start of this bench trial, my chambers have been inundated with hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters, and packages.” “The need to protect defendants from threats and physical harm outweighs the First Amendment right of defendants and their attorneys to comment on my staff.”

Engoron’s gag order doesn’t extend to the judge himself, whom Trump has called a “partisan political hack” and a “radical Trump hater.”

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