Former President Donald Trump arrived at a New York courthouse Monday to testify in the ongoing civil trial accusing him and his company of fraudulently misstating the value of their assets, which he’s repeatedly attacked as a partisan “witch hunt,” as he faces the possibility of a $250 million fine and serious consequences for him and the Trump Organization.
Trump is slated to take the stand when the trial gets underway at 10:00 a.m. eastern time, following testimony last week by his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, his business associates—including his sons—and the Trump Organization for allegedly misstating the values of assets on statements of financial condition, which were prepared for financial institutions, in order to obtain more favorable business deals and reflect a more favorable net worth for Trump.
The ex-president has strongly denied the allegations against him and repeatedly railed against the case, James and Judge Arthur Engoron, accusing them of being politically biased against him and trying to hurt his presidential campaign.
In an April deposition in the case, Trump downplayed the statements of financial condition—claiming he had little involvement with them and their figures were “guesstimates” that banks shouldn’t have relied on—and alleged that if anything, the values were too low, rather than too high as the attorney general argues.
Trump has already attended several days of the fraud trial, which began in early October, and Engoron imposed a gag order against him in the trial’s opening days that bars public comments about the court’s staff after he made a disparaging post about the judge’s clerk—which has already resulted in him being fined a combined $15,000.
Trump attacked the case against him on Truth Social Monday as he prepared to head to the courthouse, claiming the case was brought “for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE” and “HAS ZERO MERIT.” “A dark day for our Country. WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote.
What To Watch For
Trump is scheduled to testify in court on Monday, followed by his daughter Ivanka Trump on Wednesday. The Trumps will mark the last witnesses the attorney general’s office will call before Trump’s attorneys make their case. The trial is scheduled to last until mid-December, and if the judge rules in the attorney general’s favor, the defendants could face consequences including a $250 million fine, Trump and his sons being barred from running New York businesses and Trump being prohibited from making commercial real estate acquisitions for five years. Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud for misstating the values of their assets (which Trump has appealed) and ordered the cancellation of their business certificates, though an appeals court has put that part of the order on hold.
$2.6 billion. That’s Trump’s estimated net worth as of October, ranking him 1203rd on Forbes’ real-time tracker of the world’s richest people. Between 2011 and 2021, the years covered by James’ initial lawsuit, Forbes valued Trump’s net worth as ranging between $2.5 billion (in 2020 and 2021) and $4.5 billion (in 2015). The attorney general’s office alleges Trump used fraudulent valuations to boost his net worth by between $1.9 million and $3.6 billion per year.
Trump “has repeatedly and consistently lied about the value of his assets to fraudulently enrich himself and his family,” James tweeted Monday ahead of Trump’s testimony. “Donald Trump might lie, but the facts and the numbers don’t.”
Monday actually marks the second time Trump will testify in the fraud trial, after being briefly called to the stand on October 25 after Engoron accused him of violating the gag order for a second time, which resulted in the judge imposing a $10,000 fine. Trump has testified in at least eight trials since 1986, according to the Associated Press.
James sued Trump, his business associates and company in November 2022 following a yearslong investigation, accusing the defendants of misstating valuations more than 200 times between 2011 and 2021. The investigation was sparked by Trump’s ex-attorney Michael Cohen testifying to Congress that Trump would ask him and then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to inflate valuations in order to reach Trump’s desired net worth, claims that Cohen repeated on the stand when he testified during the trial. Other witnesses have so far largely declined to tie Trump to the alleged fraud scheme, testifying that responsibilities were delegated to accountants and employees like Weisselberg and controller Patrick McConney. Trump has long railed against James’ case and initially refused to cooperate with prosecutors, which resulted in him being held in contempt and fined $110,000 for refusing to comply with a subpoena for documents. Before answering questions during his deposition in April, Trump was previously deposed in August 2022, but refused to answer any questions and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.
How Trump Fooled Deutsche Bank (Forbes)