(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $250 million lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.
Trump, his sons Eric and Don Jr., and 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:
Nov 02, 8:38 AM EDT
Trump Jr. has helped run family’s business for a ‘long time,’ AG says
As Donald Trump Jr. prepares to return to the witness stand this morning, New York Attorney General Letitia James says the Trump Organization executive VP has been with the Trump Organization for a long time for someone who appears to have so little understanding of the business.
In a video posted to social media last night following Trump Jr.’s first day of testimony, James said the eldest son of former President Trump “claimed to have very little understanding of the accounting and legal mechanics of the family business — but we know he has been involved in running the Trump Organization for a long time.”
Trump Jr. testified yesterday that he relied on the expertise of others when he signed the company’s statements of financial condition, distancing himself from the documents at the heart of the attorney general’s case.
While he acknowledged that he had some of the “the most intimate knowledge” about some of the deals described in the statements, Trump Jr. reiterated that he did not have a role in putting the documents together.
“The accountants worked on it. That’s what we pay them to do,” Trump Jr. said.
Trump Jr. will return to the witness stand this morning, with his bother Eric Trump on deck to testify later today.
Nov 01, 5:36 PM EDT
‘I wasn’t involved’ with financial statements, Trump Jr. says
Before stepping down from the witness stand at the end of the afternoon, Donald Trump Jr. was asked repeatedly about his involvement in the Trump Organization’s statements of financial condition — the allegedly fraudulent documents that underpin the attorney general’s case.
Trump Jr., who signed and certified the accuracy of the statements while his father was president between 2016 and 2021, said that he was not involved in preparing the filings.
“I wasn’t involved in the compilation of this statement of financial condition,” Trump Jr. said, placing the responsibility on his accountants.
“Did you work on the statement of financial condition for June 30, 2017?” state attorney Colleen Faherty asked.
“I did not. The accountants worked on it. That’s what we paid them to do,” Trump Jr. said.
Throughout the afternoon, the tone of the proceedings alternated rapidly between lighthearted and heated, varying from playful interactions between Trump Jr. and Judge Engoron, to bitter spats between some of the lawyers.
“I know you don’t like it when good evidence comes in,” Faherty told the defense lawyers during one particularly heated exchange.
“There’s no reason to raise your voice,” Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Clifford Robert, responded.
Trump Jr. is scheduled to return to the stand tomorrow morning.
Nov 01, 4:40 PM EDT
Trump Jr. to resume testimony tomorrow
Donald Trump Jr. has stepped down from the witness stand.
He is due to return to the courtroom tomorrow morning to resume his direct examination.
Court is now adjourned for the day.
Nov 01, 4:25 PM EDT
“Move it along,” judge tells lawyer questioning Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr. and state attorney Colleen Faherty got into a rhythm of quick questions and answers during the first hour of direct examination.
“I moved to Florida, but kept the New York pace,” Trump Jr. joked at one point when asked by the judge to speak slower.
So far the state attorney has focused most of her questions on Trump Jr.’s broader roles and responsibilities at his family’s firm, rather than any specific allegations in the attorney general’s complaint.
“I don’t see where we are going at all with this,” Trump attorney Chris Kise said at one point regarding the questioning.
“Move it along as fast as you can,” Judge Engoron told Faherty.
Nov 01, 3:47 PM EDT
Trump Jr. pressed about departure of ex-CFO
Donald Trump Jr. struggled to answer questions when pressed about why former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg departed the family’s firm.
“Because some legal issues he got himself into,” Trump Jr. said, declining to offer specifics about Weisselberg’s guilty plea on tax evasion charges last year.
Previously giving lengthy answers to questions about his background and even smiling with the judge, Trump Jr. appeared tense on the witness stand as he answered questions about Weisselberg.
“The specific event was he was indicted,” Trump Jr. said.
He added that when began working for the Trump Organization as an executive vice president in the 2010s, Weisselberg outranked him. Trump Jr. would seek Weisselberg’s approval for certain business decisions such as refinancing loans.
“Who is above you in your role as an executive vice president in the Trump Organization?” state attorney Colleen Faherty asked.
“Obviously I would have reported to my father in that period of time … people like Allen Weisselberg would have still been senior to me,” Trump Jr. said of that time period.
Trump Jr. said he gained more responsibility in 2016 when his father became president and he was named a trustee of his father’s revocable trust. He said that he, Weisselberg and his brother Eric Trump became a kind of triumvirate running the Trump Organization.
“We stopped reporting to my father on decisions involving the business,” Trump Jr. said.
That relationship broke down once Weisselberg got himself into “legal issues,” Trump Jr. said. He testified that he could not recall the circumstances of Weisselberg’s exit, including the multimillion-dollar severance deal that Weisselberg received, which Weisselberg faced questions about during his own testimony earlier this month.
“I have no knowledge of the specifics of how it happened. He is no longer working at the Trump Organization,” Trump Jr. said of the former CFO.
Nov 01, 3:22 PM EDT
‘I leave it to my CPAs,’ Trump Jr. says of accounting standards
“Sounds very exciting, but no,” Donald Trump Jr. answered to a state attorney’s question about whether he knows about accounting certifications, professional organizations, or accounting standards other than GAAP, which stands for “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.”
“I know nothing about GAAP,” Trump Jr. said, adding, “I leave it to my CPAs.”
“I’m a real estate broker,” Trump Jr. said as he introduced himself on the witness stand. He testified that he began working in the family real estate business “right after 9/11,” working on Trump Park Avenue and the former Sun Times building in Chicago.
State attorney Colleen Faherty tried to pressed him on his lack of accounting knowledge, prompting several objections from the defense.
Judge Engoron sustained the objections and admonished Faherty against asking negative questions.
-ABC News’ Olivia Rubin contributed to this report.
Nov 01, 3:10 PM EDT
Trump Jr. to be questioned by assistant AG
Assistant New York Attorney General Colleen Faherty will start off the direct examination of Donald Trump Jr.
Faherty is familiar with questioning high-stakes witnesses, having led the direct examination of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen last week.
Her quick objections during Cohen’s cross-examination led Trump attorney Alina Habba to accuse Faherty of trying to “throw off” her game.
A seven-year veteran of the New York attorney general’s office and a former criminal defense attorney, Faherty has been a vocal presence in the courtroom since the start of the trial.
Her willingness to spar with Trump lawyer Chris Kise previously led to some heated exchanges in court, such as a sidebar when Faherty demanded Kise “be more respectful.”
“No,” Kise responded.
“That was rude,” Faherty replied.
Nov 01, 3:01 PM EDT
Donald Trump Jr. takes the stand
Donald Trump Jr. has taken the stand, where he will be the first of the former president’s children to testify.
Before taking the stand, Trump Jr. sat while news photographers snapped pictures.
“I should’ve worn makeup,” he quipped.
Nov 01, 2:30 PM EDT
Ivanka Trump appeals ruling requiring her to testify
One week ahead of her planned testimony, Ivanka Trump has appealed Judge Engoron’s decision to require her to testify in person at the Trump Organization’s fraud trial.
Ivanka Trump’s lawyer Bennet Moskowitz asked an appellate court to decide whether Engoron has jurisdiction to compel her testimony and whether the trial subpoenas issued by the New York attorney general were properly served.
Ivanka Trump, who is not a defendant in the case, is currently scheduled to testify next Wednesday as the final witness in the attorney general’s case before the defense presents its case.
Nov 01, 2:08 PM EDT
Donald Trump Jr. arrives at courthouse
Donald Trump Jr. has arrived at the New York State Supreme Courthouse with his attorney.
Unlike his father and his brother Eric Trump — who have visited the courtroom to watch the proceedings – Donald Trump Jr. has not stepped foot inside the courthouse for the trial until today.
A Trump Organization executive vice president, Trump Jr. is scheduled to testify in the case this afternoon.
Nov 01, 1:44 PM EDT
Defense presses state’s expert on his analysis
Defense lawyer Jesus Suarez spent the first hour of his cross-examination working to cast doubt on expert Michiel McCarty’s analysis, which found that Trump defrauded lenders out of $168 million in interest.
“Who created the universe of documents for you to review? It was the New York attorney general, right?” Suarez said before launching into a rapid-fire succession of questions regarding which lenders McCarty had spoken to in the course of his analysis.
“Did you ever interview anyone from Deutsche Bank?” Suarez asked.
“No,” McCarty said.
“Did you ever interview anyone from Ladder Capital?” Suarez asked.
“No,” McCarty repeated.
“Did you ever interview anyone from Mazars,” Suarez asked.
“No,” McCarty responded.
“Did you ever interview anyone from the Trump Organization?” Suarez asked.
“No,” McCarty said again.
Nov 01, 12:34 PM EDT
Defense assails judge after he tells them to speed up questioning
Only 15 minutes into what is expected to be a three-hour cross-examination, Judge Arthur Engoron snapped at defense lawyer Jesus Suarez for asking redundant questions.
“I see why this is going to take two or three hours. Some questions become three or four more questions,” Engoron said, interrupting the cross-examination to request that Suarez shorten his questions.
That prompted Trump lawyer Chris Kise to criticize Engoron for placing an unfair standard on the defense team.
“You never give them speeches. You never limit their questions,” Kise said about Engoron’s approach to the attorney general’s legal team. “I think it’s unfair.”
Kise stressed that the cross-examination of the state’s sole expert witness is particularly important since his testimony is likely to play into the judge’s calculation of Trump’s potential fine.
“This witness is the only witness they have that even hints … about ill-gotten gains,” Kise said.
Engoron, however, refused to back down.
“I stand by my rulings and statements,” the judge said.
Nov 01, 12:17 PM EDT
Expert agrees that high-net-worth borrowers get low rates
Defense attorney Jesus Suarez began what is expected to be a marathon cross examination of the state’s expert witness, Michiel McCarty, by attempting to use his words against him.
“Historically banks have been willing to lend to high-net-worth individuals at low rates because they get repaid?” Suarez said, citing McCarty’s direct examination.
“That is correct,” McCarty said.
Suarez then reminded McCarty that Trump’s loans were paid on time — a point that the former president has reiterated during his appearance in court and on social media.
Suarez then asked if McCarty had charged the attorney general’s office $950 per hour for his expert analysis.
“That’s my standard rate, yes,” said McCarty, who estimated that his total bill for his analysis was $350,000.
Nov 01, 12:05 PM EDT
Trump’s misrepresentations cost banks $168M, expert testifies
The state’s expert witness, Michiel McCarty, calculated that Donald Trump’s lenders lost $168 million in potential interest between 2014 and 2023, according to a report he presented in court.
McCarty’s testimony appeared to reinforce a central tenet of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case: that Trump’s misrepresentations in his financial statements cost banks potential earnings from interest, even if the banks made money on the loans.
State attorney Kevin Wallace directed McCarty to a footnote in Judge Engoron’s earlier summary judgment order about the concept of lost interest, in which Engoron said, “The subject loans made the banks lots of money; but the fraudulent SFCs [Statements of Financial Condition] cost the banks lots of money. The less collateral for a loan, the riskier it is, and a first principle of loan accounting is that as risk rises, so do interest rates. Thus, accurate SFCs would have allowed the lenders to make even more money than they did.”
McCarty, who said he agreed with this assessment, ultimately found that banks lost a total of $168,040,168 in potential interest from loans related to four of Trump’s properties in Miami, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Trump attorney Chris Kise fiercely objected, arguing that McCarty was testifying about facts not established during the trial. During questioning, state attorneys declined to ask a Deutsche Bank executive if the bank would have still done business with Trump had they known his financial statements were inflated.
“They are not ill-gotten gains if the bank does not testify it would have done it differently,” Kise said.
“I decided these were ill-gotten,” the Judge Engoron replied.
Following Wallace’s direct examination of McCarty, defense attorney Jesus Suarez began his cross-examination.
Nov 01, 11:03 AM EDT
State’s expert witness takes the stand
Listing companies like Marriott, Fannie Mae and AT&T, the New York attorney general’s lone expert witness, Michiel McCarty, began his testimony by outlining some of the deals he worked on during his nearly 50-year career.
McCarty said that he has worked as an expert witness on “dozens of cases” and testified at 15 trials. But he acknowledged that he had limited experience with the compilation of statements of financial condition, prompting an objection from Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise.
“It appears that he does not have the specific experience relevant to the purpose he is here,” Kise argued.
Deemed an expert by Judge Engoron, McCarty went on to explain the report he wrote after reviewing Trump’s finances.
Nov 01, 10:49 AM EDT
Former Trump Organization VP testifies about Ivanka Trump
Former Trump Organization VP David Orowitz testified about Ivanka Trump’s involvement with Trump’s Old Post Office property in Washington, D.C.
“Ivanka wanted me to change the language in the GAAP section. She asked that I review with you,” Orowitz wrote in a 2011 email to then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, referring to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles used in the preparation of financial documents.
Defense attorneys have previously tried to downplay the extent to which Ivanka Trump was involved in the representation of Trump’s finances.
Orowitz subsequently stepped down from the witness stand to make way for Michiel McCarty, the state’s sole expert witness, to begin his testimony.
Nov 01, 10:14 AM EDT
‘We have a busy day,’ judge says as court gets underway
“We have a busy day and a busy week, so let’s try to move things along,” Judge Engoron remarked as he brought the courtroom to order to begin the day’s proceedings.
“Would you like to continue your witness?” Engoron asked state attorney Eric Haren.
“We would,” said Haren, before calling back to the stand former Trump Organization vice president David Orowitz, who began his testimony yesterday afternoon.
Defense attorneys Chris Kise, Alina Habba, and Jesus Suarez are sitting at the counsel table, leaving one seat available for Donald Trump Jr., who has not yet appeared ahead of his scheduled testimony this afternoon.
Nov 01, 10:01 AM EDT
Trump rails against judge, gag order
Former President Trump continued to attack Judge Engoron this morning, calling him “crazy, totally unhinged, and dangerous” on his Truth Social platform.
“He then put a RIDICULOUS GAG ORDER ON ME, which we will appeal. He fines me at levels never seen before,” Trump wrote this morning.
Trump recently paid $15,000 in fines related to two violations of the limited gag order Engoron established that prohibits public statements about the judge’s staff.
Trump also complained about the potential fine that Engoron could impose in the case. During court yesterday, the judge remarked that disgorgement — fining Trump for profits made through fraudulent means — is a “clearly available remedy” in the case.
“Now they come up with something called ‘disgorgement.’ I never even heard of the term,” Trump said.
Engoron already 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.
Nov 01, 8:45 AM EDT
‘Leave my children alone,’ Trump says ahead of sons’ testimony
Former President Trump attacked Judge Arthur Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James on social media ahead of today’s expected testimony from his son Donald Trump Jr.
“Leave my children alone, Engoron. You are a disgrace to the legal profession!” Trump wrote overnight on his Truth Social platform.
Donald Trump Jr. is expected to begin his testimony in the afternoon today.
If that testimony concludes today, his brother Eric Trump could also begin his testimony.
Both of them are executive vice presidents in the Trump Organization.
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