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After judge’s rebuke, Trump returns to court for 3rd day for fraud lawsuit trial

by Chloe Baker
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Donald Trump civil fraud trial

Former President Donald Trump resumed his presence in the New York civil fraud trial on the third consecutive day, following a reprimand from the presiding judge. This legal battle stems from allegations brought forth by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who claims that Trump and his business engaged in deceptive practices involving financial statements that substantially exaggerated his wealth, thereby deceiving banks, insurers, and other parties.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who has already ruled in favor of the fraud claims, contending that Trump inflated the values of his valuable assets, such as his Trump Tower penthouse, is overseeing the trial. If this ruling stands, it could potentially result in Trump losing control over his iconic skyscraper and other properties. However, Trump vehemently denies any wrongdoing. On the day of his courtroom appearance, he continued to employ his familiar rhetoric, describing James as “incompetent,” accusing her of being part of a broader Democratic strategy to undermine his 2024 presidential prospects, and labeling the trial as “a disgrace.”

Throughout this legal ordeal, Trump has often expressed his grievances in both the courthouse hallway and on social media platforms, targeting not only the trial but also James and Judge Arthur Engoron, who share his Democratic affiliation. However, Trump’s online criticism took a more serious turn when he targeted Engoron’s principal law clerk. In response, Judge Engoron imposed a limited gag order, instructing all participants in the trial to refrain from personal attacks on court staff. The judge specifically directed Trump to remove a “disparaging, untrue, and personally identifying post,” which the former president promptly complied with.

The trial, which is being heard without a jury, revolves around six remaining claims from the lawsuit following Engoron’s pretrial ruling. Its primary purpose is to determine the extent of potential penalties that Trump may face. Attorney General Letitia James seeks $250 million in damages and a prohibition on Trump conducting business in New York.

In the most recent proceedings, an accountant who had prepared Trump’s financial statements for an extended period continued to testify as a witness for the state. James’ legal team aims to establish that Trump and his company had complete control over the preparation of these financial statements. The accountant, Donald Bender, testified that the Trump Organization did not always provide all the necessary documents for the statements, despite their letters attesting to the provision of all financial records and the absence of “knowingly withheld” relevant data.

During cross-examination, Bender conceded that he had missed a change in information regarding the size of the former president’s Trump Tower apartment. Defense lawyer Jesus M. Suarez seized upon this revelation, asserting that Trump’s company and employees faced considerable difficulties due to this oversight. Bender responded by clarifying that the error was not on their end but was a mistake made by the Trump Organization.

Looking ahead, it is expected that Trump himself will take the stand later in the trial to provide his own testimony.


For more updates on this trial, you can follow Mike Sisak at x.com/mikesisak, and if you have confidential tips, please visit https://www.ap.org/tips.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Fraud Trial

What is the New York fraud trial involving Donald Trump about?

The New York fraud trial involving Donald Trump centers on allegations that he and his business provided financial statements that significantly inflated his wealth, deceiving banks, insurers, and others. New York Attorney General Letitia James filed this lawsuit, accusing Trump of deceptive practices.

What has the presiding judge ruled in this trial?

Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Donald Trump committed fraud by inflating the values of valuable assets, including his Trump Tower penthouse. If this ruling stands, it could potentially result in Trump losing control of his signature skyscraper and other properties.

How has Donald Trump responded to the trial and its participants?

Donald Trump has been vocal about the trial, often venting his grievances both in the courthouse hallway and on social media. He has criticized the trial, Attorney General Letitia James, and Judge Arthur Engoron, often using strong rhetoric.

What actions did Judge Engoron take in response to Trump’s social media post?

In response to a social media post by Trump targeting his principal law clerk, Judge Engoron imposed a limited gag order. This order prohibits all participants in the trial from launching personal attacks on court staff. The judge specifically directed Trump to delete the post, which he complied with.

What is the primary purpose of the non-jury trial?

The non-jury trial aims to address six remaining claims in the lawsuit following Judge Engoron’s pretrial ruling. Its primary purpose is to determine the extent of potential penalties that Donald Trump may face. Attorney General Letitia James seeks $250 million in damages and a prohibition on Trump conducting business in New York.

Who has testified in the trial so far?

An accountant named Donald Bender, who prepared Trump’s financial statements for years, has testified as a witness for the state. The testimony is focused on establishing that Trump and his company had full control over the preparation of these financial statements.

What mistake was highlighted during the trial regarding the financial statements?

During cross-examination, it was revealed that the accountant, Donald Bender, had missed a change in information about the size of Donald Trump’s Trump Tower apartment. The defense lawyer seized upon this error, suggesting that it had caused difficulties for Trump’s company and employees. Bender clarified that the mistake was made by the Trump Organization and not by their accounting firm.

Will Donald Trump testify in the trial?

Yes, it is expected that Donald Trump will testify later in the trial to provide his own testimony.

Where can I find updates on this trial?

For more updates on this trial, you can follow Mike Sisak at x.com/mikesisak, and if you have confidential tips, please visit https://www.ap.org/tips.

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