Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial will go on after lawyers seek early verdict ending case

by Lucas Garcia
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Trump NY fraud trial

Efforts by Donald Trump’s legal team to terminate the ongoing New York civil fraud trial early were rejected on Thursday. Judge Arthur Engoron, without delivering a definitive ruling, implied that the trial would continue as planned next Monday, with Donald Trump Jr. set to resume his testimony as the first defense witness.

The former president’s attorneys had sought a swift conclusion, requesting Judge Engoron to dismiss the case and absolve Trump, his organization, and his executives, including Trump Jr., of all allegations. This plea came amid the trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who accuses Trump and his associates of overestimating his wealth in financial statements to mislead banks and insurance companies.

Judge Engoron considered the motion for a directed verdict but postponed further comment on it until Thursday afternoon when he decided on a separate issue, granting Trump’s team the opportunity to present expert witnesses to challenge claims regarding the influence of Trump’s financial statements on loan and insurance terms.

Despite previous rulings unfavorable to Trump, Judge Engoron has shown an inclination to see the trial through to its end, requesting defense witness schedules and anticipating closing arguments around Christmas.

Christopher Kise, representing Trump, insisted that the prosecution had not achieved the requisite legal threshold to sustain their allegations. He stressed the absence of a tangible complainant or injury, a point contested by state attorney Kevin Wallace, who defended the sufficiency of the evidence to warrant a complete trial.

Former President Trump, testifying earlier, had refuted any misconduct and emphasized his reputation in the real estate sector over the state’s allegations. Trump’s lawyers also sought to exclude his sons Eric and Donald Jr. from the lawsuit, arguing that the state had not proven their involvement in the contested financial statements.

While Trump’s sons testified that they relied on professional assurances for the statements’ accuracy, the state argued that their signatures on relevant documents implied responsibility for their contents.

The request for a directed verdict is a standard procedural move in civil trials, though it is rarely granted. Judge Engoron, serving as the sole decision-maker in lieu of a jury, had previously ruled pretrial that fraudulent exaggeration of Trump’s assets had occurred.

Additionally, Trump’s attorneys have reiterated their demand to pause the trial pending an appellate court’s final judgment on the pretrial fraud ruling. They allege that Judge Engoron has displayed bias and is causing significant, irreparable damage to the defendants.

The state concluded its presentation after six weeks and over two dozen witnesses. They are pursuing a recovery of over $300 million in profits they claim were illicitly obtained and seek to prohibit the defendants from engaging in New York business activities.

Donald Trump Jr. will continue his defense testimony on Monday, and the trial will also hear from Trump company executives and external accountants involved in the financial statements, as well as banking officials who managed Trump’s loans.

Kise highlighted that Deutsche Bank had independently adjusted the asset values from Trump’s statements before granting substantial loans, undermining the prosecution’s case. He also criticized the testimony of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, labeling his recantations during cross-examination as damaging to the state’s case. Despite an immediate directed verdict request by Trump’s attorney at that juncture, Judge Engoron declined to grant it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump NY fraud trial

What was the outcome of Donald Trump’s lawyers’ request to end the New York civil fraud trial?

Judge Arthur Engoron did not grant the request to immediately end the trial. He indicated that the trial would proceed as scheduled, with Donald Trump Jr. returning to the stand as the first defense witness.

What are the allegations in the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against Donald Trump?

The lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump and other defendants inflated his wealth in financial statements, thereby misleading banks, insurers, and others.

Did Judge Arthur Engoron grant the defense’s request for a directed verdict in Trump’s trial?

Judge Engoron considered the defense’s request for a directed verdict but did not immediately address it. He later allowed Trump’s lawyers to call several expert witnesses to refute testimony about Trump’s financial statements affecting loan terms and insurance premiums.

What was the argument of Trump’s lawyer regarding the continuation of the trial?

Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, argued that the state lawyers failed to meet any legal standard to prove allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records. He emphasized the lack of a victim, complainant, or injury in the case.

What was the state’s response to the defense’s request to end the trial?

State lawyer Kevin Wallace argued that there was no reason to end the trial early, stating that the evidence presented was more than sufficient to continue to a final verdict.

What did Donald Trump testify regarding the allegations against him?

Donald Trump denied any wrongdoing during his testimony. He stated that his financial statements were conservative estimates of his wealth and that lenders were content with doing business with him.

What is the significance of Judge Engoron’s pretrial ruling in Trump’s fraud case?

Before the trial, Judge Engoron ruled that Trump, his company, and other defendants committed fraud by exaggerating his net worth and the value of assets on his financial statements. This pretrial ruling could have major implications for Trump’s control over his properties, pending an appeal.

More about Trump NY fraud trial

  • Donald Trump’s NY Fraud Trial Continues
  • Allegations in Letitia James’ Lawsuit Against Trump
  • Judge Engoron’s Decision on Directed Verdict Request
  • Christopher Kise’s Argument for Ending the Trial
  • State’s Response to Defense’s Trial Termination Request
  • Donald Trump’s Testimony in Civil Fraud Trial
  • Significance of Judge Engoron’s Pretrial Ruling in Trump Case

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