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(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:
Oct 30, 3:57 PM EDT
Trump allowed no copies of statements, insurance exec says
An insurance company executive testified that the Trump Organization kept its financial documents closely guarded to an unusual extent.
Claudia Mouradian, a senior underwriting officer at Zurich North America, provided the testimony via a deposition video. Mouradian, who lives outside New York and is nine months pregnant, is the only witness who has been excused from in-person testimony.
Mouradian, who began working on the Trump Organization account for Zurich in 2017, said that the Trump Organization placed restrictions on taking financial materials out of their offices.
“It is rare,” she said about the restrictions.
When she reviewed Donald Trump’s financial statements in 2018, she recalled a one-hour meeting in Trump Tower overseen by then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
“He took me to the boardroom. He provided me the financial statements. [He said,] ‘take as many notes as you would like, no cellphones, no photocopies,'” Mouradian said. “Allen stayed in the room with me.”
Oct 30, 2:48 PM EDT
Ivanka Trump’s testimony moved to Nov. 8
Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump is now scheduled to testify on Wednesday, Nov. 8, after a scheduling conflict necessitated the change.
Her testimony will come at the conclusion of the New York attorney general’s case, before the defense puts on its case.
Both parties agreed to in court today to change the date of her appearance from the original date this coming Friday.
Donald Trump Jr. is still set to begin his testimony this Wednesday, and state attorney Andrew Amer suggested that the state will need less than a full trial day top question him.
“Eric Trump should be available to start whenever we finish Donald Trump Jr.,” Amer said.
Eric Trump will likely testify through Thursday, and no additional witnesses are currently scheduled to testify on Friday.
“We will leave Friday as a big question mark,” Judge Engoron remarked.
Donald Trump is still scheduled to testify on Monday, followed by a day off for Election Day, then Ivanka Trump’s testimony on Wednesday.
“Nothing ever goes according to plan,” Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise joked while agreeing to the arrangement.
Oct 30, 2:14 PM EDT
Trump claimed $3-5B net worth in lease to run NYC golf course
When the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation awarded Donald Trump the rights to operate a golf course in Ferry Point Park in 2010, Trump represented that he had a net worth of $3 billion and $200 million in cash on hand, according to documents presented as evidence.
Over the next decade, in letters to the Parks Department, Trump claimed that his net worth was as much as $4.9 billion, according to the evidence.
“We wanted to be sure, as we would always, that the operator in place had the funds to deliver on their obligations,” David Cerron, the Parks Department’s assistant commissioner for business development and special events, said of the agency’s requirements for maintaining the licensing agreement on an ongoing basis.
The New York attorney general alleges that Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2 million during the timeframe and never actually had more than $2.1 billion to his name.
“Would the Department of Parks and Recreation expect this representation to be true, complete, and accurate?” state attorney Sherief Gaber asked.
“Yes,” Cerron said.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Jennifer Hernandez highlighted that Trump’s financial capacity was the least significant factor considered in the 2010 agreement, compared to other factors like operating experience and operational plans.
“It had the lowest importance to the selection committee?” Hernandez asked.
“This was the lowest,” Cerron responded.
Hernandez also highlighted that Trump was not required to submit his own financial statements and that he never missed any payment or financial obligation related to the licensing agreement.
Trump operated the golf course until its lease was bought out by Bally’s in 2020, after the city sought to cut its business ties with Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Oct 30, 12:21 PM EDT
Trump tax rep acknowledged much lower value for Mar-a-Lago
In 2020, the same year Donald Trump valued his Mar-a-Lago social club at $517 million in his statement of financial condition, the former president’s tax representative signed a waiver agreeing with a much lower market value of $27 million, according to documents entered into evidence at trial.
Judge Engoron already determined in a summary judgment that Trump overvalued Mar-a-Lago by “at least 2,300%” by valuing the club between $426 and $612 million in his financial statements, despite the Palm Beach county assessor appraising the value between $18 and $27.6 million between 2011 and 2021. The documents entered into evidence today, as well as testimony from former Trump Organization VP Raymond Flores, adds context regarding who at the Trump Organization could have been aware of the discrepancy.
Trump’s tax representative tried to appeal the assessment in 2020 before eventually withdrawing the appeal. In that withdrawal, Trump’s representative conceded that “the petitioner agrees with the determination of the property appraiser or tax collector.”
“Was it your understanding that the appeal was withdrawn because the Trump Organization agreed with the value of the property assessor?” state attorney Andrew Amer asked Flores about the $27 million valuation.
“Yes,” Flores answered.
Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney previously testified that Trump valued Mar-a-Lago as a private residence from 2011 through 2021, despite Trump signing a deed that restricted Mar-a-Lago’s usage to a social club, thereby limiting its resale value.
During a 2021 email exchange, Flores forwarded an email to former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and Eric Trump in which Trump’s tax broker, Michael Corbiciero, explained the tax implications of classifying Mar-a-Lago as Trump’s residence, rather than a social club.
“Currently this property is assessed as a private club with the current assessed value at $359/sqft” compared to nearby properties valued at nearly ten times the rate, the email stated. Corbisiero ultimately recommended against classifying Mar-a-Lago as a residence rather than a social club due to the tax implications, according to the email forwarded to Eric Trump and Weisselberg.
Oct 30, 10:35 AM EDT
New York AG to call Parks Department official to testify
The New York attorney general plans to call David Cerron, an assistant commissioner at the New York City Parks Department, to the witness stand later today.
Cerron is expected to testify about Donald Trump’s arrangement to operate a golf course at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, New York.
The attorney general claims that Trump’s 2010 bid to operate the course relied on fraudulent financial statements.
“The award granting the Trump Organization the concession cites Mr. Trump’s wealth as one basis for award, and the contract documents include a personal guaranty by Mr. Trump,” according to the attorney general’s complaint.
Oct 30, 9:42 AM EDT
Former Trump Organization VP to continue testimony
Former Trump Organization Vice President Raymond Flores is scheduled to return to the witness stand this morning.
Flores’ testimony, which began on Oct. 20, was postponed after a COVID-19 exposure delayed proceedings last week.
Flores was asked during his testimony earlier this month about his role in reviewing Trump’s financial statements and overseeing his golf courses, but said he could recall few details about his work in those areas.
Oct 30, 9:42 AM EDT
Former Trump Organization VP to continue testimony
Former Trump Organization Vice President Raymond Flores is scheduled to return to the witness stand this morning.
Flores’ testimony, which began on Oct. 20, was postponed after a COVID-19 exposure delayed proceedings last week.
Flores was asked during his testimony earlier this month about his role in reviewing Trump’s financial statements and overseeing his golf courses, but said he could recall few details about his work in those areas.
Oct 27, 4:21 PM EDT
Trump pays $15,000 in gag order fines
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers have paid $15,000 to the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection on behalf of the former president for his two gag order violations.
Judge Arthur Engoron fined Trump twice for violating his limited gag order prohibiting public statements about members of his staff.
Trump was fined $10,000 this week for a statement he made to reporters in court, which Engoron determined was in reference to his clerk. He was fined $5,000 last Friday for inadvertently keeping a Truth Social post — which prompted the initial gag order — on his campaign website after deleting it from his Truth Social account.
“Without waiving any rights or remedies, including, without limitation, any rights to appeal said orders, on behalf of our client, we enclose herewith a check from our attorney trust account in the amount of $15,000 in accordance with the court’s orders,” defense lawyer Alina Hanna wrote in a filing posted today.
Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise signaled in court Thursday that Trump will likely appeal the most recent $10,000 violation.
Oct 27, 1:33 PM EDT
Tax lawyer Sheri Dillon concludes testimony
State attorney Louis Solomon concluded his direct examination of tax lawyer Sheri Dillon after a series of questions about an appraisal of former President Donald Trump’s Seven Springs estate in New York.
A 2015 appraisal of the estate valued the entire property at $56.5 million, according to documents presented at trial, though Trump’s financial statements valued the property between $261 and $291 million from 2011 to 2021.
Dillon, who Judge Arthur Engoron deemed a hostile witness Thursday, struggled to recall with whom at the Trump Organization she might have discussed the appraisal. She added that she could not recall if she mentioned the appraisal in relation to the value of the estate in Trump’s financial statements.
“I have no idea if I told them the [appraised] value of the property,” Dillon testified. She later added, “It’s not like every Monday we talk about conservation easements.”
Oct 27, 1:36 PM EDT
AG sets schedule for testimony from Donald Trump, his children
New York Attorney General Letitia James will likely rest her case against former President Donald Trump during the week of Nov. 6 following at least four days of testimony from Trump and his children.
State attorney Kevin Wallace told Judge Arthur Engoron that the state plans to call Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday, followed by Eric and Ivanka Trump on the following Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The state’s final witness, the former president, will likely begin his direct examination on Monday, Nov. 6, according to Wallace.
“We like to keep families together,” Engoron joked as Wallace set the schedule.
Trump’s lawyer, Chris Kise, previously told ABC News that he plans to recall some Trump Organization witnesses for the defense’s own case, meaning the trial is likely to stretch into November or later before concluding.
Oct 26, 2:47 PM EDT
Judge finds Trump’s testimony was ‘hollow and untrue’
The sworn testimony of former President Trump in court yesterday was “hollow and untrue,” according to a written order issued today by Judge Engoron.
The order, which memorializes yesterday’s ruling that Trump violated the case’s limited gag order, offers a stronger repudiation of Trump’s sworn testimony than the judge articulated yesterday, when he called Trump’s testimony “not credible.”
“I then conducted a brief hearing, during which Donald Trump testified, under oath that he was referring to Michael Cohen. However, as the trier of fact, I find this testimony rings hollow and untrue,” Engoron wrote in his order.
Like his in-court statements yesterday, Engoron remarked that Trump’s hallway statement about “a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even more partisan than he is” was inconsistent with how Trump frequently refers to Cohen. Going as far as to cite the Oxford English Dictionary, Engoron wrote that “alongside” is more likely to refer to his clerk than the witness, who sits below the judge.
“Using imprecise language as an excuse to create plausible ambiguity about whether defendant violated this Court’s unequivocal gag order is not a defense; the subject of Donald Trump’s public statement to the press was unmistakably clear,” Engoron wrote.
Trump’s lawyers said they plan to appeal the order.
Oct 26, 2:07 PM EDT
Judge allows testimony about Trump’s charity
State attorney Louis Solomon focused on the activities of The Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump’s defunct charity organization, during his direct examination of tax lawyer Sheri Dillon.
Dillon, who worked with Trump between 2005 and 2020, testified that she received a letter from the New York attorney general in 2016 regarding a potential violation by Trump’s charity, which she discussed with then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
Solomon’s line of questioning prompted an objection from Trump’s attorney Chris Kise, who argued that Trump’s charity was irrelevant to the state’s case. But Judge Engoron overruled the objection.
“To me, this case is not just about financial statements being submitted to insurance companies. It is about whether or not defendants were committing fraud,” Engoron said. “If the evidence shows a particular defendant was consistently acting fraudulently, the law says there can be particular forms of equitable relief.”
Dillon testified that she could not recall if Trump Organization executives notified potential insurers about the violation.
Then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued the Trump Foundation in 2019 for using money set aside for charitable purposes to settle business disputes and cover political expenses. Trump was eventually ordered to pay $2 million to various charities as part of a settlement.
Oct 26, 11:39 AM EDT
Judge upholds Trump’s $10,000 fine
Judge Engoron is upholding Donald Trump’s $10,000 fine for violating the case’s limited gag order yesterday.
During a break, Engoron said he reviewed the video of Trump’s hallway statement and reached the same conclusion as yesterday: that Trump was referring to Engoron’s law clerk when he told reporters that the judge has a “person who is very partisan sitting alongside of him.” The gag order prohibits public comments about the judge’s staff.
Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise had argued that a later portion of Trump’s statement supported that he was referring to Michael Cohen, rather than the judge’s law clerk.
But Engoron disagreed, saying, “That was a clear transition from one person to another, and I think the person he originally referred to is very clear.”
Oct 26, 11:02 AM EDT
Defense asks judge to reconsider gag order fine
Defense attorney Chris Kise requested that Judge Engoron again reconsider his decision to fine Donald Trump $10,000 for violating the case’s limited gag order yesterday, offering a broader criticism of the gag order based on First Amendment grounds.
“This is open, public, and the defendant has a First Amendment right to comment on what he sees and perceives as a potential source of bias,” Kise said.
Like yesterday, Kise maintained that Trump was referring to Michael Cohen, rather than the judge’s law clerk, during his hallway statement in which he said the judge has a “person who is very partisan sitting alongside of him.” Trump attested to this on the stand yesterday, though Engoron found that Trump was “not credible.”
“The review of the statement does not support the sanction,” Kise said.
Even if Trump was referring to the clerk, Kise made a broader argument that the gag order itself was “constitutionally infirm,” considering Trump is the “leading candidate” for the presidency.
“I don’t think that the order survives constitutional scrutiny,” Kise said.
State attorney Andrew Amer argued in support of the gag order, which he said was narrowly limited to withstand constitutional scrutiny.
“A federal judge in D.C. has issued a similar order to protect herself,” Amer added, referring to a ruling in Trump’s election interference case.
Judge Engoron said he would reconsider the fine but stood by his gag order.
Oct 26, 10:19 AM EDT
Insurance underwriter to testify
An underwriter who worked on a Trump Organization insurance policy to cover legal expenses incurred by the firm’s executives is scheduled to testify this morning.
Michael Holl, an underwriter at Tokio Marine HCC, worked on the Trump Organization’s Directors and Officers insurance policy in 2016 and 2017, according to the New York attorney general.
With Donald Trump about to be inaugurated president at the time, the Trump Organization attempted to increase their policy’s limit to $50,000,000, which was ten times higher than their previous limit, according to the attorney general.
“In response to specific questioning from the underwriters, the Trump Organization personnel represented that there was no material litigation or inquiry from anyone that could potentially lead to a claim under the D&O coverage,” the state alleged in their complaint.
However, four months before that representation was made, Trump Organization executives learned about an ongoing investigation by the attorney general into the Trump Foundation as well as Trump family members, according to the complaint.
Oct 26, 9:34 AM EDT
Trump, AG offer contrasting takes on Cohen’s testimony
After a dramatic day in court yesterday — including surprise testimony from Donald Trump, a $10,000 gag order violation fine, and inconsistent testimony from Michael Cohen — both New York Attorney General Letitia James and the former president took to social media to describe the state of the trial.
“Their ‘star’ witness lied like a dog on the stand today,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post overnight.
In a video statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, James defended her case against Trump as a multi-year effort built on thousands of documents and hundreds of witnesses, rather than simply the testimony of Cohen.
“The defendants’ counsel attempted and failed to discredit our entire case,” James said.
Judge Arthur Engoron yesterday denied a motion from the defense to dismiss the case following the conclusion of Cohen’s testimony, saying that Trump’s former lawyer was not the case’s “star witness.”
“There’s enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom,” Engoron quipped.
Oct 25, 5:07 PM EDT
AG downplays Cohen’s testimony as Trump slams it
Following the adjournment of court for the day, Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James offered contrasting views of the testimony of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
Trump, speaking to reporters in a courthouse hallway, continued to claim that today was his Perry Mason moment.
“He was caught lying like no one has ever lied,” he said of Cohen. “It was better than a Perry Mason moment, and that should be the end of the case.”
The former president also criticized Judge Engoron for not ending the trial following Cohen’s testimony, claiming he is being “railroaded.”
“Any other judge, this would be the end of the case,” Trump said.
James, speaking separately to reporters outside court, downplayed Cohen’s importance to the case.
“It’s also important to know that Michael Cohen is not the main witness,” she said.
“His evidence has been corroborated by the mountains of evidence, enough evidence to fill the courtroom,” the AG said, echoing a phrase Engoron used earlier.
Oct 25, 4:34 PM EDT
Cohen, following testimony, calls Trump ‘a defeated man’
Speaking outside after his testimony was complete and court was adjourned for the day, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen portrayed his testimony as successful and vital to holding Trump accountable, despite the contradictions in some of his answers.
Cohen maintained that he was not intimidated by Trump being in court during his testimony.
“When you looked him in the eye, Michael, what did you see?” ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky asked him.
“I saw a defeated man. I saw somebody that knows that it’s the end of the Trump Organization,” Cohen said.
Oct 25, 4:10 PM EDT
‘There’s enough evidence to fill this courtroom,’ says judge
Judge Arthur Engoron vehemently denied the defense’s request to end the trial following former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s contradictory testimony.
“The government’s key witness has fallen flat on his face,” Trump attorney Clifford Robert said when requesting the case be dismissed.
“Absolutely denied. This case has evidence, credible or not, all over the place,” said Engoron, who disagreed that Cohen was the case’s star witness.
“There’s enough evidence to fill this courtroom,” Engoron said.
During Cohen’s redirect examination, state attorney Colleen Faherty attempted to square Cohen’s inconsistent answers by asking about his 2019 congressional testimony again. Cohen testified yesterday that he was “tasked by Trump” to inflate Trump’s reported net worth, then today said his 2019 testimony, in which he said Trump never directedly told him to do so, was correct.
“Donald Trump speaks like a mob boss … he tells you what he wants without specifically telling you,” Cohen said in explaining the inconsistent response. “We understood what he wanted.”
Oct 25, 3:34 PM EDT
Trump storms out after Cohen reverses testimony
Former President Trump stormed out of courtroom after the judge denied his request for an immediate directed verdict to end the trial.
Defense attorney Clifford Robert asked Judge Engoron to end the trial after Michael Cohen offered contradictory testimony about his 2019 congressional testimony.
During this 2019 testimony, Cohen was directly asked, “Did Mr. Trump direct you or Mr. Weisselberg to inflate the numbers for his personal statement?” referring to then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
“Did he ask me to inflate the numbers? Not that I recall,” Cohen responded.
Confronted with this testimony before today’s lunch break by Alina Habba, Cohen testified that he lied during the 2019 testimony.
Shown the same testimony again by Robert after lunch, Cohen reversed course.
“I stand with that response, not that I recall, no,” Cohen said, indicating his 2019 testimony was truthful.
Sitting at the counsel table, Trump mumbled inaudibly, threw up his hands, and gestured to Robert, who walked over to Trump from the lectern where he was questioning Cohen.
Trump and Robert whispered for roughly ten seconds, after which Robert returned to the lectern and asked for a directed verdict.
“I can’t think of anything more appropriate now,” Robert said.
“Denied,” Engoron immediately responded.
Trump immediately stood up, turned around, and marched out of the courtroom flanked by Secret Service agents.
“The witness just admitted that we won the trial, and the judge should end this trial immediately,” Trump told reporters as he entered the hallway.
Oct 25, 3:05 PM EDT
‘Don’t do it again or it will be worse,’ judge tells Trump
“Don’t do it again or it will be worse,” Judge Engoron told former President Trump after fining him $10,000 for violating the limited gag order he imposed prohibiting comments about his staff.
The judge made the comment after Trump’s lawyers raised concerns with the sanction.
Trump attorney Chris Kise specifically criticized Engoron for not believing Trump’s testimony, which the judge described as “not credible.”
“I think the speaker needs to be taken at face value,” Kise said.
Trump attorneys Alina Habba and Clifford Robert also criticized how closely Engoron appears to work with his clerk during the trial, which they described as unorthodox.
“I make the final decisions. I value input from both of my law clerks. Every judge does things differently,” Engoron said.
When Trump took the stand, the former president sat still but appeared unfazed by the sudden turn of the events.
While Engoron issued his ruling, Trump sat with his arms crossed at the counsel table and briefly conferred with Kise.
Oct 25, 2:47 PM EDT
Judge fines Trump $10,000 for violating gag order
Judge Engoron fined former President Trump $10,000 for violating a limited gag order after deciding that Trump referred disparagingly to his law clerk during a statement in the hallway.
Trump briefly took the witness stand, raising his hand and stating his name “Donald John Trump, New York.”
Engoron asked Trump “Did you say, ‘This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside of him?'”
Trump responded “Yes,” but insisted he was referring to Michael Cohen, who was seated next to the judge in the witness chair.
“You sure you didn’t mean the person on the other side?” Engoron asked, referring to his law clerk, whom Trump previously disparaged in a social media post that the judge ordered him to take down.
“Yes I’m sure,” Trump answered.
Trump conceded his social media post was “maybe unfair” but he added he thinks “she’s very unfair.”
Engoron decided Trump’s hallway statement must have referred to his clerk because “there’s a barrier” between the bench and Cohen, and he suggested Trump would have called Cohen by name.
The defense immediately balked at the fine.
“I just don’t think there’s any clear record here,” defense attorney Chris Kise said.
Oct 25, 2:35 PM EDT
Trump takes stand for gag order hearing
Trump been sworn in as a witness for a hearing Judge Engoron is holding on whether he violated the limited gag order Engoron imposed earlier in the trial.
The former president then took the stand.
Oct 25, 1:52 PM EDT
Trump mum on private conference with judge
After Judge Engoron raised concerns that Trump had possibly violated the limited gag order the judge had imposed during the trial, Trump and his lawyers remained inside the courtroom at the start of the lunch break for a 25-minute conference that was sealed to the press.
Afterward, when asked by reporters about the private conference, Trump responded, “I can’t tell you.”
Trump otherwise praised his lawyer’s cross examination of Michael Cohen, who admitted he lied under oath on multiple occasions.
“That was a Perry Mason moment,” Trump said.
Oct 25, 1:33 PM EDT
‘President Trump makes you relevant,’ attorney scolds Cohen
Defense attorney Alina Habba’s cross-examination of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen featured frequent objections, cross talk and nonresponsive or argumentative answers that often breached customary courtroom decorum.
“You didn’t ask me a yes-or-no question,” Cohen scolded Habba at one point. “Yes I did,” Habba shot back.
Cohen at times resisted answering questions, either objecting to them or insisting he did not understand them, while Habba paced the floor, blaring her questions into a hand-held microphone as Trump observed from the defense table.
“President Trump makes you relevant,” Habba chastised Cohen. “If you didn’t work for President Trump you wouldn’t make most of your income today.”
Cohen eventually conceded that he makes his living because of his prior relationship with Trump.
“Outside of your two podcasts, your merchandise and your books, is there any other form of income in your life?” Habba asked. “No,” Cohen answered.
Habba’s cross-examination concluded with a pointed question meant to question Cohen’s motive for cooperating with the attorney general’s investigation.
“Did you ever ask President Trump to pardon you while he was in the White House?” Habba asked.
“No,” Cohen said.
“And he didn’t pardon you?” she asked.
“No,” Cohen replied.
Oct 25, 1:15 PM EDT
Judge threatens to enforce gag order in potential misunderstanding
After the first break of the day, Judge Engoron threatened to penalize Trump after what Engoron said was a “dangerous disobeyal” of the gag order he imposed prohibiting comments about his staff.
“I am very protective of my staff, as I should be. I don’t want anybody killed,” said Engoron, who handed down the limited gag order earlier in the trial after Trump made a social media post about his clerk.
Citing Associated Press reporting, Engoron expressed concern that Trump made a comment in the hallway about “a person who is much more partisan sitting alongside him.”
Since Engoron’s clerk usually sits to his right, the judge interpreted Trump’s comment as referring to her.
“It is very easy for the public or anyone to know who this person is,” Engoron said.
Trump’s attorney Chris Kise said there was a misunderstanding, clarifying that Trump was referring to Michael Cohen, who has been sitting in the witness stand to Engoron’s left. Kise attested that Trump confirmed to him that he was referring to Cohen.
“That’s the way I read the statement,” Kise said. “He is tired of listening to what he is hearing. It is very partisan.”
Engoron did not impose any penalty and took Kise’s explanation “under advisement.”
Oct 25, 12:49 PM EDT
‘We will win,’ Trump tells reporters regarding case
Speaking to reporters during a break after his lawyer Alina Habba grilled Michael Cohen for over an hour, Trump continued his attacks on his former attorney.
“[He] went to jail for lying, [and] this is their only witness,” Trump said of Cohen. “When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing.”
Trump said that despite the lack of a jury, he would win the case.
“We will win because the facts are on our side to a level that nobody’s ever seen anything like that before,” Trump said.
The case will be decided by Judge Engoron, who already determined in a pretrial ruling that Trump had engaged in repeated fraud.
Oct 25, 12:37 PM EDT
‘You are very good at blaming other people,’ lawyer chides Cohen
Judge Engoron encouraged the attorneys in the case to be respectful of one another as the sparring continued during the cross-examination of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
After Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty attempted to object to why a news article referenced by the defense was not entered into evidence, defense attorney Chris Kise responded, “Just sit down and you will find out.”
Cohen rarely looked toward Trump, largely directing his attention at Habba as she posed questions and shot back comments.
“You are very good at blaming other people,” Habba observed to Cohen at one point during his testimony.
After Engoron called for the attorneys to be respectful, Kise retorted: “Respect is not something you get — it’s something you earn.”
Oct 25, 12:21 PM EDT
‘Why are you screaming at me?’ Cohen asks defense attorney
Confrontational outbursts punctuated the ongoing cross-examination of Michael Cohen as defense attorney Alina Habba attempted to confront the former Trump attorney with nearly a decade of his past statements about his ex-boss.
Habba showed Cohen portions of his books — one of which was handed out in court — as well as past comments on social media and media interviews in which Cohen heaped praise on Trump before Cohen broke with Trump in 2018.
“I can tell you that Mr. Trump’s memory is fantastic, and I’ve never come [across] a situation where Mr. Trump has said something that is not accurate,” Cohen told CNN in 2015 in a quote that was read aloud by Habba in court.
Habba also read from an ABC News story in which Cohen said he admired Trump and that he had read Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” twice while in high school.
“I have answered every question you want. Why are you screaming at me?” Cohen asked Habba at one point after a line of questions related to his 2015 CNN appearance.
“Do I have animosity towards him? Yes, I do,” Cohen said about Trump, as the former president sat just feet away from him.
“You have made a career out of publicly attacking President Trump, haven’t you?” Habba asked.
“Yes,” Cohen said.
Oct 25, 10:54 AM EDT
Defense resumes heated cross-examination of Michael Cohen
The heated cross-examination of Michael Cohen resumed with the state attorney general’s office accusing defense lawyers of “showmanship” and the judge stepping in to referee.
Trump attorney Alina Habba accused Cohen of perjuring himself when he pleaded guilty in 2018 to criminal conduct including tax evasion, among other crimes. Cohen testified yesterday that “there was no tax evasion. At best, it could be characterized as a tax omission.”
Habba said that testimony amounted to perjury. Collen Faherty, a lawyer for the state, accused Habba of “showmanship” and “a little bit of a stunt.”
Habba shot back, “This is not showmanship. I’m just doing my job.”
Another Trump lawyer, Chris Kise, interjected, “There is nothing wrong with calling a liar a liar. Perjury is perjury. The attorney general is trying to cover for an extraordinarily defective witness.”
Judge Engoron sided with the defense but instructed Habba to not use the word “perjury,” prompting Trump to shake his head.
“Yesterday was the first time you admitted in open court that you lied to Judge Pauley?” Habba asked, referring to the federal judge who took Cohen’s plea.
“In open court, yes,” Cohen responded.
Oct 25, 10:23 AM EDT
‘We’re a nation in decline,’ Trump says
Addressing reporters in the hallway before he entered the courtroom, Trump spoke about the current House speaker race, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and his false allegations of a rigged election.
“We’re a nation in decline, all because of a rigged and stolen election,” Trump said before entering court for the resumption of Michael Cohen’s cross-examination.
Before Cohen returned to the stand, defense attorney Alina Habba requested that Judge Engoron and his clerk refrain from any distracting behavior.
“It is incredibly distracting when there are eye rolls and constant whispering at the bench,” said Habba, who added that the judge she clerked for earlier in her career was “very strict.”
Oct 25, 9:48 AM EDT
Manhattan prosecutors watching Cohen’s testimony
Susan Hoffinger, who is leading Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal hush money case against Donald Trump, is in attendance at the trial this morning. With Cohen serving as a key witness in that case, Hoffinger also was in court yesterday to hear Cohen’s direct examination.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is also back in the courtroom for the second day of Cohen’s testimony.
Seated in the gallery behind her team of lawyers, James encounters Trump each time he enters and exits the courtroom, though it appears the two rarely make eye contact.
Oct 25, 8:37 AM EDT
Michael Cohen to return to witness stand
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is set to face a grueling day of cross examination, as defense lawyers attempt to discredit him after his potentially damaging testimony yesterday.
Calm and confident when answering questions from a state lawyer, Cohen dealt a blow to his former boss early in his testimony yesterday when he said he “reverse engineered” Trump’s financial statements to “achieve the number” Trump wanted, inflating the values of assets such as Trump Park Avenue, Trump World Tower, and the Miss Universe Pageant to achieve Trump’s desired figure — though his testimony was notably devoid of notes, communications, or draft financials to support his claims.
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba hammered at Cohen’s inconsistencies during the first hour of cross-examination, confronting Cohen with his past guilty pleas and history of false testimony. A disbarred lawyer, Cohen’s answers grew combative at times, often responding to questions with “objection” or “asked and answered.”
Trump said in a Truth Social post this morning that he plans to attend court for a second day in a row. In a social media post overnight, he described Cohen’s testimony yesterday as a “complete and total disaster.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James offered a contrasting opinion of Cohen’s testimony in a video statement posted to social media.
“Donald Trump lives in a fantasy land. He directed those around him to lie and scheme to make his fantasy a reality,” James said.
Oct 24, 5:37 PM EDT
Cohen combative during forceful cross-examination
Michael Cohen underwent a forceful cross-examination by Trump attorney Alina Habba in the day’s final court session.
“You are not on Mea Culpa. You are not on your podcast, and you are not on CNN. You’re here with me,” Habba instructed Trump’s former attorney during the questioning.
Compared to Cohen’s direct examination — when Trump could often be seen conferring with the lawyers by his side, examining exhibits, or passing notes around — Trump had a more positive demeanor during the cross.
Cohen himself grew combative at parts of the questioning, responding “objection” and “asked and answered” as if he were a lawyer at counsel table, rather than a witness on the stand.
“You have lied under oath numerous times, isn’t that correct, Mr. Cohen?” Habba asked at one point.
“That is correct,” Cohen replied.
Habba even admitted that she was enjoying herself during the questioning, after Judge Engoron offered to cut testimony short for the day.
“It is entertaining — I am happy to go all night,” Habba said.
Exiting court at the end of the afternoon, Cohen declined to comment about the ongoing cross-examination.
“He’s a disgraced felon, and that’s the way it’s coming out,” Trump said on his way out.
Oct 24, 4:36 PM EDT
‘This witness is out of control,’ Trump attorney says of Cohen
Trump attorney Alina Habba began her cross-examination by having Michael Cohen recount the criminal acts related to his 2018 guilty plea.
“Mr. Cohen, what did you respond?” Habba asked while reading a transcript from his 2018 plea proceeding.
“Guilty, your honor,” Cohen said aloud in court.
Habba also read from a sentencing memorandum related to Cohen’s plea in which prosecutors wrote that Cohen’s crimes “were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.”
When Habba asked if Cohen lied to his wife about evading taxes, Cohen responded by saying “objection” and attempting to cite legal precedent.
“You can’t object. It’s a yes or no question,” Habba said.
“He is a serial liar, and he lied to his wife,” defense lawyer Chris Kise told the judge about why the question is relevant. He later added, “This witness is completely out of control.”
Oct 24, 4:29 PM EDT
Defense begins cross-examination of Cohen
Following the conclusion of the state’s direct examination of Michael Cohen, Trump attorney Alina Habba has begun what is expected to be a lengthy cross-examination.
“You understand what ‘under oath’ means?” Habba asked Cohen at the start of her cross-examination.
“Yes,” Cohen said, after which Habba began to describe Cohen’s previous criminal conduct.
Oct 24, 4:20 PM EDT
Trump claimed $8B net worth when bidding for Buffalo Bills
When Donald Trump attempted to bid for the Buffalo Bills football team in 2014, he claimed that his net worth was “in excess of eight billion dollars,” according to a document entered evidence during Michael Cohen’s testimony.
To support the bid, Trump’s frequent lender Deutsche Bank sent a letter to Morgan Stanley to demonstrate that Trump had the “financial wherewithal” to support his bid, according to Cohen.
The New York attorney general alleges that Trump used his inflated financial statement to convince Deutsche Bank to support Trump’s financial strength.
The line of questioning prompted strong objections from Trump lawyer Chris Kise, who argued that the bid for the Buffalo Bills is not related to any of the attorney general’s causes of action.
“I think this is arguably false, particularly the eight billion dollars … and this shows a pattern of practice of fraud,” Judge Engoron said when overruling the objection.
Oct 24, 4:03 PM EDT
Cohen testifies how Trump’s inflated statements were used
Donald Trump used his inflated financial statements to convince journalists about his net worth, to lower his insurance premiums, and even to support his bid to purchase the Buffalo Bills football team, according to Michael Cohen.
Cohen described how the Trump Organization would grant external parties only limited access to the documents themselves, often presenting them during video calls — rather than handing out the document for external parties to keep — in the process of demonstrating Trump’s net worth.
For example, Cohen described using the documents in a meeting with a journalist from real estate news site “The Real Deal” to “create the story about how much Trump was actually worth,” Cohen said.
According to Cohen, Trump Organization executives used Trump’s financial statements in meetings with insurance companies to obtain lower premiums, and Trump would occasionally attend these meetings to help move the process along.
“About three quarters of the way through the meeting, Mr. Trump would then come in, and there would be an extended conversion about his net worth, and that he was richer than the insurance companies,” Cohen testified, adding that Trump’s drop-in to the meeting was pre-planned.
Trump’s financial statement also proved vital when Trump attempted to get a line of credit for a 2014 bid to purchase the Buffalo Bills, according to Cohen.
“We can all agree that Mr. Trump never owned the Buffalo Bills,” Judge Engoron remarked.
Oct 24, 3:47 PM EDT
Trump following Cohen’s testimony closely
Sitting at the witness stand in a white dress shirt and sport coat, Cohen swapped his reading glasses on and off as he studied financial statements presented to him.
Feet away at the counsel table, Trump leaned forward to study the real-time transcript of Cohen’s testimony while actively whispering and passing notes between his lawyers Alina Habba and Chris Kise.
Often leaning to speak with his lawyers on either side of him, Trump appeared actively engaged throughout Cohen’s testimony since the mid-day break.
While Cohen testified steadily and confidently for most of his early-afternoon testimony, he at times spoke vaguely and struggled to offer specific firsthand knowledge. When asked about Trump’s adult children, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric, he initially described them as involved in the process of inflating specific assets before walking back his testimony.
“I did not observe them specifically engaging in conversation,” about that, Cohen acknowledged.
Oct 24, 3:19 PM EDT
Cohen details how he says he inflated Trump’s statements
According to Michael Cohen, the process of “reverse engineering” Donald Trump’s 2011 financial statement began with a phone call.
“Mr. Trump would like to see you,” Trump’s executive assistant told Cohen, according to his testimony today.
Cohen testified that he then personally met with Trump and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to begin the process of inflating Trump’s financial statement.
“I am actually not worth 4.5 billion. I am really worth six,” Trump directed him and Weisselberg, according to Cohen.
Following that meeting, he and Weisselberg engaged in a multi-day process of marking up Trump’s financial statement with red ink to eventually increase Trump’s total net worth to Trump’s “desired number,” Cohen said.
Apart from the marked-up document, which Cohen said was scanned, he left behind no contemporaneous notes, text messages, or emails about the process.
“What is the highest price per square foot achieved in the city,” Cohen described about the process to determine comparable properties to value Trump assets. “We would use those numbers to inflate these numbers.”
Oct 24, 1:32 PM EDT
‘He is not a credible witness,’ Trump says of Cohen
Minutes after Michael Cohen alleged he was tasked with reverse engineering Trump Organization financial statements, Donald Trump continued his attacks on his former lawyer while exiting the courtroom during a break in the trial.
“His record is a horrible one. All you have to do is ask the Southern District of New York,” Trump said in reference to Cohen’s 2018 guilty plea on charges related to his role in making hush payments to two woman who claimed to have long-denied affairs with Trump.
“He is not a credible witness,” Trump said.
During Cohen’s testimony, Trump also took to social media to post flattering quotes Cohen gave to news outlets about Trump in 2011 and 2016.
“He’s more like a patriarch, a mentor. These qualities make him very endearing to me, which is why I am so fiercely loyal to him and committed to protecting him at all costs,” Cohen told the New York Times in 2016 — which was posted by Trump on Truth Social minutes after Cohen began his testimony.
The former president told reporters he wasn’t concerned about Cohen being on the stand.
“We’re not worried at all about his testimony,” Trump said.
Cohen, exiting court separately during the break, quipped that seeing Trump again after five years was a “heck of a reunion.”
Oct 24, 1:04 PM EDT
Cohen says he was tasked to ‘reverse engineer’ asset values
Michael Cohen, under questioning from state attorneys, testified it was his job to help Trump look as rich as he wanted to.
“I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected, and my responsibility — along with Allen Weisselberg — predominantly was to reverse engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump had tasked us with,” Cohen said, referring to former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
Cohen joined the Trump Organization in 2007 as executive vice president and special counsel to Trump, putting him “directly under Mr. Trump” in the corporate hierarchy, Cohen said.
“I reported and only handled work for Mr. Trump and so I was his special counsel. Whatever issues he had, whatever created ire for him, he would bring it to me to resolve,” Cohen said.
“So the only person who asked you to perform work was Donald J. Trump?” state attorney Colleen Faherty asked.
“Correct,” Cohen responded.
Cohen affirmed his involvement in preparing Trump’s statements of financial condition and told the judge those documents were “shared with third parties,” including insurance brokers.
Oct 24, 12:37 PM EDT
Cohen recounts his criminal history
Michael Cohen, hunched slightly on the witness stand, began his testimony by outlining the federal charges to which he pleaded guilty and served prison time — including tax evasion and lying to Congress — as Trump leaned back in his chair with his arms folded across his chest.
Once Trump’s self-described bulldog, Cohen has not shared a room with Trump in five years, he said prior to his testimony.
As he recounted his criminal history, Cohen invoked the names of Stormy Daniels and Karen MacDougal, two women who in 2016 were paid to keep quiet about long-denied affairs with Trump. Defense attorney Chris Kise moved to strike the answer but the judge overruled the objection.
Colleen Faherty, an attorney with the state attorney general’s office, asked Cohen if his crimes occurred while he was employed by Trump, to which Cohen responded “Yes” and affirmed his employer was “Donald J. Trump.”
Oct 24, 12:24 PM EDT
Michael Cohen takes the stand as Trump looks on
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen has begun his testimony in his former boss’ civil fraud trial.
Sitting at a cramped counsel table between his lawyers, Trump is about ten feet from his former lawyer and so-called “fixer.”
The courtroom itself is at capacity, with attendance appearing to exceed the number of observers during the trial’s opening statements.
Oct 24, 12:16 PM EDT
‘There was nothing wrong with the financials,’ Trump says
When Mazars USA said that Trump’s financial statements were no longer reliable in 2022, the accounting firm did not conduct an audit or identify any “material discrepancies” in Trump’s statements, Mazars General Counsel Bill Kelly testified.
“As we have stated in the Statements of Financial Condition, Mazars performed its work in accordance with professional standards. A subsequent review of those workpapers confirms this,” Kelly wrote in a 2022 letter to the Trump Organization entered into evidence.
Both Trump and his lawyer Jesus Suarez seized on the admission from Mazars.
During cross examination, Suarez displayed multiple financial statements and repeatedly asked Kelly about the lack of discrepancies identified in the statements. Exiting court for a break, Trump also focused on that portion of the testimony.
“They found no discrepancies, there was nothing wrong with the financials,” Trump said, alleging that his former accountants were “abused” and “hurt very badly” by the New York attorney general.
Oct 24, 12:07 PM EDT
Trump lawyer presses Mazars USA counsel
Trump’s accounting firm resigned from engagements with the Trump Organization in 2021 after learning it could no longer rely on former CFO Allen Weisselberg, Mazars USA General Counsel Bill Kelly testified.
The next year, Mazars determined that Trump’s statements could no longer be relied upon following a filing related to New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation of the Trump Organization.
“When the NYAG filed a paper in court, you took them at their word and never once conferred with your client?” defense attorney Jesus Suarez asked during his cross examination of Kelly, adding that Trump paid Mazars millions before their relationship ended.
“You just kicked them to the curb, right?” Suarez added, alleging that Mazars tried to “curry favor” to avoid legal problems with authorities.
“We did not kick them to the curb,” Kelly responded.
The cross examination of Kelly appeared to test the patience of Judge Engoron, who interrupted the questioning twice.
“That has been asked about five times already,” Engoron said at one point. At a later point, he added, “Asked and answered many times. Yes, they were paid.”
Oct 24, 11:20 AM EDT
Attorneys continue to spar over COVID concerns
Trump lawyer Chris Kise continued to spar with state attorney Louis Solomon during the testimony of Mazars General Counsel Bill Kelly.
After Solomon objected to a question posted in Kelly’s cross-examination, Kise interjected to call out Solomon for being hypocritical about the bounds of acceptable testimony.
“Everything in this courtroom concerns me and my client, including your health,” Kise said, referring back to his earlier concern about a courtroom COVID-19 outbreak.
“Thanks for your concern,” Solomon responded offhandedly.
Trump and his attorneys have adjusted their seating compared to past days, possibly due to health concerns, so that Trump and Kise are sitting further from the state attorneys.
Oct 24, 10:56 AM EDT
Judge rejects defense’s request for delay due to COVID
Before today’s first witness entered court, Trump attorney Chris Kise asked Judge Engoron to postpone today’s proceedings after five members of the New York attorney general’s team tested positive for COVID-19.
Describing the attorney general’s conduct as “beyond irresponsible,” Kise said that his team did not get adequate notice about the COVID exposures despite having close contact with positive individuals.
“Nothing else matters except for pursuing President Trump,” Kise said. “We have the leading candidate for president of the United States in the courtroom today.”
“The attorney general’s office knew on Wednesday and didn’t tell any of us,” defense attorney Clifford Robert said. “We are truly in an outbreak.”
Engoron declined to grant their requested delay.
In a statement, a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James said the state has complied with all CDC guidelines.
“Our office properly notified the court and defendants’ counsel, and the court decided to proceed with trial today. If there were any concerns, defendants could wear masks today or at any point, but they have opted not to,” the spokesperson said.
Oct 24, 10:44 AM EDT
‘He’s a felon,’ Trump says of Cohen
Trump called his former lawyer Michael Cohen a “proven liar” and “felon” as Trump entered the courtroom for his civil trial this morning.
“He’s a felon, served a lot of time for lying, and we’re just going to go in and see and I think you’ll see that for yourself,” Trump told reporters outside court.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to two separate criminal cases and eventually spent more than 13 months in prison — but said that it was Trump who caused him to “follow a path of darkness.”
-ABC News’ Ricardo Montero contributed to this report.
Oct 24, 10:06 AM EDT
Cohen says he’s ‘looking forward’ to seeing Trump
Exiting his New York City apartment this morning, Michael Cohen told reporters he was “looking forward” to seeing Trump in court.
“It’s been five years since we’ve been in the same room,” Cohen said.
Cohen preemptively defended the credibility of his testimony and reiterated that he previously perjured himself “concert with and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.”
“My credibility should not be in question,” Cohen said.
-ABC News’ Eric Avram contributed to this report.
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
Trump arrives in court
Donald Trump has arrived in court for the anticipated testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is also attending the trial this morning.
James took her usual seat at the front of the courtroom’s gallery, directly behind her team of lawyers at the counsel table.
The courtroom itself is nearly at capacity, with attendance matching the number of observers during the trial’s opening statements.
Oct 24, 9:53 AM EDT
Cohen expected to testify after Mazars attorney
Donald Trump’s former lawyer and self-described “fixer” is scheduled as the second witness to testify today at the trial.
Bill Kelly, a lawyer at Trump’s former accounting firm, Mazars USA, is set to begin his testimony this morning.
Mazars issued Trump’s statements of financial condition before severing its business relationship with the Trump Organization last year and withdrawing the statements issued between 2011 and 2020.
“We have come to this conclusion based, in part, upon the filings made by the New York Attorney General on January 18, 2022, our own investigation, and information received from internal and external sources,” Kelly wrote in a 2022 letter to the Trump Organization.
Oct 24, 8:23 AM EDT
Trump’s lawyers appeal sanctions imposed before trial
Trump defense lawyers Chris Kise, Clifford Robert, and Michael Farina have appealed Judge Arthur Engoron’s decision to sanction and fine them for making frivolous arguments during pretrial arguments.
On the eve of trial, Engoron sanctioned the attorneys for their “continued reliance on bogus arguments,” and ordered each to pay a $7,500 fine.
“Sanctions are the only way to impress upon defendants’ attorneys the consequences of engaging in repetitive, frivolous motion practice after this Court,” Engoron wrote in his decision at the time.
In their filing, the lawyers have asked an appeals court to determine if Engoron “committed errors of law and/or fact, abused its discretion, and/or acted in excess of its jurisdiction.”
Oct 23, 8:55 AM EDT
Trial delayed until Tuesday due to COVID-19 exposures
Former President Trump’s civil fraud trial is adjourned until Tuesday due to COVID-19 exposures, the New York attorney general’s office has announced.
Officials did not say who had been exposed or when.
Trump attended the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week and said on Wednesday that he could return to court for the testimony of his former attorney Michael Cohen, which could begin tomorrow.
The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow morning with testimony from a lawyer at Trump’s former accounting firm, Mazars USA, followed by Cohen.
Week Three of the trial concluded on Friday with Judge Engoron fining Trump $5,000 for violating a gag order the judge had issued prohibiting social media posts and statements about the judge’s staff.
While Engoron found that Trump’s violation was “inadvertent,” he threatened additional fines or possibly even jail time if Trump violated the order again.
Oct 20, 3:39 PM EDT
Judge fines Trump $5,000 for violating partial gag order
Judge Engoron has fined Donald Trump $5,000 for what the judge called Trump’s “inadvertent” violation of his limited gag order that occurred when the former president’s false Truth Social post about Engoron’s clerk was not removed from Trump’s campaign website.
“Donald Trump has received ample warning from this Court as to the possible repercussions of violating the gag order,” Engoron wrote in a ruling after court had ended for the day. “He specifically acknowledged that he understood and would abide by it. Accordingly, issuing yet another warning is no longer appropriate; this Court is way beyond the ‘warning’ stage.”
The judge said he decided to impose a nominal $5,000 fine “given defendant’s position that the violation was inadvertent.”
However, the judge wrote, “Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him pursuant to New York Judiciary Law 753.”
Oct 20, 2:02 PM EDT
Court adjourns for day without gag order ruling
The trial adjourned until Monday without Judge Engoron determining what penalty, if any, Trump will face after the judge said Trump violated his limited gag order by not removing a false Truth Social post about Engoron’s clerk from his campaign website.
Prior to adjournment, former Trump Organization vice president Raymond Flores testified about his limited role in reviewing Trump’s 2020 statement of financial condition and assessing the value of Trump’s golf courses.
Flores, who had a limited recollection of events, is expected to return to the witness stand to complete his testimony on Monday.
Oct 20, 1:49 PM EDT
Judge to hold hearing on Ivanka Trump subpoenas
Judge Engoron will hear oral arguments from the New York attorney general and Ivanka Trump’s attorney about whether Ivanka Trump will be required to testify at her father’s civil fraud trial.
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued three subpoenas to Ivanka Trump, who was no longer a part of the Trump Organization by 2016, in order to compel her testimony — but Ivanka Trump’s lawyer argues they should be quashed because the AG lacks jurisdiction.
The hearing will likely take place one morning next week, before the trial gets underway for the day, according to Engoron’s clerk.
Oct 20, 12:57 PM EDT
Thousands saw false post on Trump’s website, attorney says
According to Donald Trump’s attorney Chris Kise, 3,701 people viewed a screenshot of Trump’s false Truth Social post about Judge Engoron’s clerk that was added to Trump’s 2024 campaign website.
Engoron had requested that Kise provide specific information about the reach of Trump’s post after it was removed from Truth Social but remained on the campaign site. A screenshot of the Truth social post was available on Trump’s campaign site for more than two weeks after it was removed from the Truth Social platform, according to Engoron.
Kise said that the post was initially emailed to 25,810 people from a “press” email list. A total of 6,713 people opened the email, which directed recipients to a post on Trump’s campaign website.
Of the 114 million people who visited Trump’s campaign website between Oct. 3 and Oct. 19, a total of 3,701 users viewed the actual post, including the people directed to the post via email.
“You have to click through layers to get there,” Kise said.
Engoron has still not ruled on what punishment, if any, Trump faces for the potential violation of his gag order.
Oct 20, 10:38 AM EDT
Judge mulls holding Trump in contempt over gag order
Judge Engoron said he is considering holding former President Trump in contempt of court — and even raised the possibility of imprisonment — following what Engoron described as a “blatant violation of the gag order” imposed earlier this month during the trial.
Engoron imposed a limited gag order on Oct. 3 after Trump made a false social media post about the judge’s clerk. While Trump immediately removed the post from Truth Social, Trump’s campaign website appeared to still include the social media post until last night.
“Despite this clear order, last night I learned that the subject offending post was never removed from [the Trump’s campaign website], in fact had been on that website for the past 17 days,” Engoron said.
The judge said he was considering holding Trump in contempt of court, fining him, or “possibly imprisoning him.”
“Incendiary untruths can, and in some cases already had, lead to serious physical harm,” Engoron said.
Trump’s lawyer Chris Kise told Engoron that the website including the post was an “inadvertent” mistake and that Trump has tried to comply with the order since it was imposed.
“The Truth Social post was taken down when President Trump represented it to the court,” Kise said.
Addressing why the post remained on Trump’s campaign website, Kise blamed Trump’s “very large [campaign] operation.”
“This unfortunately is a part of the process that is built into the campaign structure,” Kise said.
Engoron, who did not immediately resolve the issue, said, “I will take this under advisement, but I want to make clear that Donald Trump is still responsible for the large machine, even if it is a large machine.”
Oct 20, 10:04 AM EDT
No evidence Trump asked ex-CFO to pump net worth, defense says
Defense lawyer Clifford Robert filed a letter late Thursday asking Judge Engoron to strike testimony from Trump Organization executive Patrick Birney about an alleged “scheme” to pump former President Trump’s net worth.
During his testimony Monday, Birney testified that former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg told him that “Mr. Trump wanted his net worth on the statement of financial condition to go up.” The New York attorney general has argued this statement supports the existence of an “illicit agreement or scheme” within the Trump Organization to inflate Trump’s net worth.
Describing the statement as “merely a recitation of what Mr. Weisselberg allegedly heard from President Trump without adoption or indorsement,” Robert argued that the statement cannot be assumed to be true based on Birney’s testimony.
“In any event, there is nothing in the record establishing President Trump actually made the statement to Mr. Weisselberg,” Robert added in a footnote to his letter.
Oct 20, 8:38 AM EDT
Ivanka Trump files motion to keep from testifying
Day 14 of the proceedings gets underway following a motion filed late Thursday by Ivanka Trump that seeks to quash three subpoenas that would compel her to testify in the trial.
Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, who was no longer a part of the Trump Organization by 2016, was dismissed from the civil suit by an appeals court in June.
But the New York attorney general still plans to call her as a witness in the state’s case. In early September, the AG sent subpoenas to three corporate entities affiliated with Ivanka Trump to force her to testify in person.
“The NYAG, which never deposed Ms. Trump, is effectively trying to force her back into this case from which she was dismissed by a unanimous decision of the Appellate Division, First Department,” Ivanka Trump’s lawyer, Bennet Moskowitz, wrote in Thursday’s filing.
Moskowitz argued that the subpoenas should be thrown out since they were not properly served and because the AG lacks jurisdiction to force Ivanka Trump, who is no longer a New York resident, to testify.
“The NYAG knows this, which is why it has subpoenaed three corporate entities as an end-run around its failure to pursue Ms. Trump’s deposition when it had the chance,” the filing said.
In a Thursday email that was entered as an exhibit to the motion, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office indicated they do not plan to request Judge Arthur Engoron hold Ivanka Trump in contempt. They instead plan to file a motion today to compel her to appear in court, according to the email.
Oct 19, 2:15 PM EDT
Eric Trump sought higher valuation of golf course, appraiser says
Eric Trump personally pushed for a higher valuation for 71 undeveloped residential units at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County outside New York City, a real estate executive testified.
David McArdle of the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield said he was hired to appraise the future value of the duplex units to be built along the golf course’s 18th hole fairway. McArdle said he personally worked with Trump Organization VP Eric Trump on the project in 2013.
“Eric loved this project. He thought it was very special,” McArdle said.
When McArdle eyed a value between $40-$45 million, Eric Trump pushed for a higher value, McArdle said.
In an email that was entered into evidence, McArdle wrote to a colleague regarding Eric Trump: “He continues to call me. I am uncomfortable not replying, please call him.”
McArdle testified that he wanted to be “respectful” to Eric Trump, who he hoped to work with on future projects; however, McArdle said he and Eric Trump continued to disagree about the value of the undeveloped units.
“Eric had certain ideas about value. They may have been more lofty than $45 million,” McArdle testified.
McArdle said was firm on the $45 million valuation, adding that he did not want to put “Eric in a vulnerable position” because the appraisal could be “under a lot of scrutiny by the IRS or a court.”
“We were sort of at the end, and anything beyond $45 million would have put people at risk,” he said.
Oct 19, 11:41 AM EDT
Lender says he partially relied on Trump’s financial statement
When Ladder Capital executive Jack Weisselberg worked on a $160 million loan for the Trump Organization, he partially relied on Donald Trump’s financial statements, according to his testimony this morning.
“The liquidity was really what we were paying attention to,” said Jack Weisselberg in reference to the $302 million in cash and marketable assets Trump claimed in his 2014 statement of financial condition.
Pressed on direct examination, Jack Weisselberg declined to say he fully relied on the statement, which the New York attorney general alleges was fraudulently inflated.
“The net worth was one of many statements we were looking at in the underwriting process. It was a factor,” Jack Weisselberg said.
He stepped down from the witness stand at the conclusion of questioning, though defense counsel reserved the right to call him back during their case.
Oct 19, 11:14 AM EDT
Attorneys spar in sidebar meeting
Lawyers for former President Trump and New York AG Letitia James began court with a 25-minute private sidebar discussion with Judge Arthur Engoron.
Earlier the attorney general’s office requested a forensic examination of Trump Organization data after identifying what they said were “likely omissions” of emails related to former CFO Allen Weisselberg.
“Excuse me, be more respectful,” state attorney Colleen Faherty audibly said during one point of the heated sidebar.
“No,” Trump attorney Chris Kise responded.
Oct 19, 9:40 AM EDT
AG requests forensic review of Trump Organization data
New York Attorney General Letitia James is requesting a forensic review of Trump Organization electronic data after identifying a missing set of emails between former CFO Allen Weisselberg and a real estate executive.
“The failure to produce these later emails indicates a breakdown somewhere in the process of preserving, collecting, reviewing and producing documents,” state attorney Kevin Wallace wrote in a letter to Judge Arthur Engoron.
The request follows an accusation from Forbes Magazine, reported in a story last week, that Weisselberg committed perjury on the stand, based on “old emails and notes, some of which the attorney general’s office does not possess.” Despite Weisselberg testifying that he “never focused on the apartment,” the Forbes story said that he “played a key role in trying to convince Forbes over the course of several years that it was worth more than it really was.”
The letter from the attorney general appears to focus on an email exchange related to the value of Trump’s golf courses, rather than the value of his Trump Tower penthouse at the center of the Forbes accusations.
“We would therefore propose that the Monitor undertake a forensic examination of electronic data held by the Trump Organization for the very brief period August to September of 2016 to determine if all responsive information has been produced,” Wallace wrote.
While Weisselberg’s testimony concluded last Thursday, both parties have reserved the right to call the former Trump Organization CFO back to the stand.
Oct 19, 9:05 AM EDT
Trump not expected back in court today
After attending his civil fraud trial for two days this week, former President Trump does not plan to return to court today.
“We’re having a very big professional golf tournament at Doral, so probably not,” Trump told reporters yesterday when asked about his plans to return to court.
LIV Golf is holding a team championship at Trump’s Miami, Florida, golf course this weekend, which Trump plans to attend.
He has indicated that he could return to court for the testimony of his former attorney Michael Cohen, which could happen next week.
Oct 19, 8:45 AM EDT
Jack Weisselberg set to continue testimony
Day 13 of the trial is scheduled to get underway this morning with continued testimony from Ladder Capital executive Jack Weisselberg, who took the stand yesterday afternoon.
The son of former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who is a defendant in the case, Jack Weisselberg said yesterday that he often worked directly with his father while working on a 2015 deal to refinance the Trump Organization’s $160 million mortgage of its 40 Wall Street office building.
The younger Weisselberg also described interactions with the Trump Organization executives who worked to protect the sensitivity of Trump’s financial information.
“I think they were concerned about confidentiality and wanted to make sure it got into my hands,” said Jack Weisselberg, describing how Trump’s financial documents were sent to him via a messenger.
He also testified how, when Trump Organization executives were contemplating a 2012 loan, they appeared sensitive about making certain financial documents public — including how much fashion brand Gucci paid in rent at Trump Tower.
“He is also nervous about Gucci’s rent becoming public knowledge, as he tends to embellish from time to time,” Jack Weisselberg wrote in a 2012 email that was entered into evidence, apparently referring to Trump.
“I recall it being public was a concern,” Jack Weisselberg said when asked about the information referenced in the email.
Oct 18, 5:21 PM EDT
‘We are here to enforce the law,’ says AG
New York Attorney General Letitia James denounced Donald Trump as “performative” during brief remarks outside the courthouse after court was adjourned for the day.
“He’s called me disgraceful. He’s called me radical. He’s called me a racist, and this is only Week Three,” James said of the former president.
She added that she looks forward to seeing Trump again, likely during the testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen, which could happen next week. Trump earlier told reporters he likely will not attend court tomorrow.
“We are here to enforce the law, and nothing will change that,” James said.
Oct 18, 3:47 PM EDT
Trump departs, says he’ll return tomorrow
Former President Trump did not return to the courtroom following an afternoon break, and his motorcade departed the courthouse shortly thereafter.
Trump told reporters on his way out that he plans to return to court tomorrow.
While leaving the courtroom, Trump was asked about a court employee who attempted to approach him during the trial today and was subsequently arrested.
“The attorney general should be arrested for what she’s doing,” Trump said.
Oct 18, 3:05 PM EDT
Court employee arrested for approaching Trump
A court employee is under arrest after she tried to approach former President Trump while he was seated in the courtroom.
As the trial was going on, the woman “disrupted the proceedings by standing up and walking towards the front of the courtroom and yelling out to Mr. Trump indicating she wanted to assist him,” according to a spokesperson for the New York State Unified Court System.
The woman was stopped by court officers before she got near Trump or any of the attorneys. She was escorted out of the courthouse by court officers and has been charged with disrupting a court proceeding.
No one in the courtroom was ever in any danger, the spokesperson said.
Oct 18, 2:49 PM EDT
Judge bars attorneys from holding courtroom press conferences
Before the court’s afternoon session got underway, Judge Engoron announced he was prohibiting attorneys from holding press conferences or addressing the media inside the courthouse.
The announcement came a day after Trump attorney Alina Habba held a brief press conference during yesterday’s lunch break, telling reporters, “This is a scary precedent, legally, for any business in New York.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James addressed reporters on the courthouse steps after court had ended for the day yesterday.
Engoron’s order does not appear to apply to former President Trump, who is not an attorney. The former president has been addressing the media in the hallway during breaks.
Oct 18, 2:17 PM EDT
Jack Weisselberg begins his testimony
Ladder Capital executive Jack Weisselberg, the son of ex-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, has begun his testimony.
The younger Weisselberg testified that he began his career at the investment bank UBS as an analyst, moved to the now-defunct hedge fund Dillon Read Capital Management, then returned to UBS.
“There were layoffs at UBS and across the entire industry,” Weisselberg said about his eventual exit from UBS. He testified that he began working at Ladder Capital in 2008.
The New York attorney general alleges that the Trump Organization obtained favorable loan terms with Ladder Capital based on an inflated appraisal of Trump’s 40 Wall Street property.
Oct 18, 2:08 PM EDT
‘The government just got caught in a big, fat lie,’ says Trump
Defense attorney Clifford Robert continued to hammer at real estate appraiser Doug Larson during cross-examination.
Larson — who met with attorneys from the New York attorney general’s office on Monday in advance of his testimony — was asked if he was shown either of the two emails that this morning prompted him to recall having phone calls with Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, after testifying yesterday that he did not.
“During your prep session Monday, the attorney general didn’t show you these two documents?” Robert said while waving printed copies of the two emails in the air, to which Larson replied no.
State attorney Mark Ladov, on redirect examination, read a transcript from an interview with Larson from three years ago, in which Larson was shown the emails and offered a response that was consistent with yesterday’s testimony.
“This is beyond absurd,” Trump attorney Chris Kise said, objecting to Ladov’s approach.
Exiting the courtroom during a break, Trump seized on the Larson’s testimony to support his claims that the case should be dismissed.
“The government just got caught in a big, fat lie,” Trump said.
Oct 18, 12:15 PM EDT
Judge asks for quiet after Trump responds to testimony
Trump, who has been sitting at the counsel table with his attorneys Chris Kise and Alina Habba, had a noticeable response when real estate appraiser Doug Larson denied having conversations with Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney about the value of Trump’s 40 Wall Street property in 2013.
The former president made an inaudible comment, tapped on the table, and conferred with his lawyers.
That prompted state attorney Kevin Wallace to ask Judge Engoron to tell Trump to refrain from making comments.
“Can the defendant please stop commenting during the witness’ testimony?” Wallace said. “I believe exhortations are audible on this side of the courtroom as well.”
Engoron declined to specifically tell Trump to refrain from commenting, instead saying, “I will ask everyone to be quiet when the witness is testifying.”
Oct 18, 12:10 PM EDT
‘You lied yesterday,’ Trump attorney accuses witness
With Donald Trump sitting just feet away, lawyers for Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James engaged in a heated argument about whether an expert real estate appraiser committed perjury during his testimony yesterday.
“You lied yesterday, didn’t you?” defense lawyer Lazaro Fields asked Newmark real estate executive Doug Larson — a line of questioning that prompted Larson to be excused from the courtroom while the attorneys sparred.
“This witness has rights and a lawyer in the room,” Trump lawyer Chris Kise said, while lawyers for the state shouted “absurd” and “witness intimidation” from their chairs.
The squabble centered on Larson’s testimony about whether he assisted the Trump Organization in determining capitalization rates to value their properties.
“Did you work with Mr. McConney in 2013 to determine the cap rate that he used to value his property?” state attorney Mark Ladov asked Larson yesterday, referring to Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney.
“No, I did not,” Larson testified yesterday.
Fields attempted to contradict Larson’s answer this morning by showing emails between McConney and Larson that suggested the two occasionally spoke about market conditions.
“Jeff McConney would call me, periodically, not frequently, to talk about sales and market conditions,” Larson conceded.
But Larson denied having conversations with McConney about the value of Trump’s 40 Wall Street property in 2013.
After a brief interruption, Fields presented a 2014 email where McConney asked Larson, “I hate to be a pest, but the accountants are coming in tomorrow to go over my valuations. Any chance you can answer my question below?”
Asked about that email, Larson acknowledged that McConney was using his information to support Trump Organization valuations in 2013.
It was at this point that Fields directly asked if Larson had lied yesterday, prompting the witness to be excused briefly.
“He perjured himself yesterday, in my opinion,” Kise told the court.
“This is a performance … not a legal issue,” Wallace countered.
“He was accused of perjury on the stand,” Engoron noted before bringing Larson back into the courtroom.
While Larson still denied that he “worked with” McConney on the valuations, he ultimately conceded that he knew the information he provided was used to value Trump properties at the time — seemingly contradicting his testimony yesterday.
“You knew in 2013 that Mr. McConney was using the information you sent him, mainly the capitalization rates, to value the Trump properties?” Fields said.
“I did,” Larson said.
Oct 18, 10:06 AM EDT
Trump returns for second day in a row
Former President Trump is back in court for the second day in a row.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is also attending the proceedings this morning.
Trump was met with a swarm of cameras on his way into the court, though the courtroom itself is half empty, largely filled with reporters and security officers.
Like yesterday, Trump is sitting at the counsel table between his attorneys Chris Kise and Alina Habba.
Oct 18, 8:49 AM EDT
Trump expected back in court
Former President Trump is expected to be in court today for the second day in a row.
Lawyers for Trump have also suggested the former president plans to attend court during the testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen when Cohen eventually takes the stand.
Cohen delayed his testimony, which was originally scheduled to begin yesterday, due to a medical issue.
“[Trump] might have significant conflicts on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 8th” of November, Trump attorney Chris Kise told Judge Engoron regarding Trump’s schedule in relation to Cohen’s testimony.
“We are still operating on the assumption of Monday at the earliest” for Cohen to begin his testimony, Engoron said, adding that Cohen had submitted a “fairly extensive doctor’s note.”
Trump attorney Alina Habba, citing a conflict, requested Cohen’s testimony begin on Tuesday at the earliest.
State attorney Kevin Wallace said he would confer with Cohen on timing and provide a schedule update this week.
Oct 18, 8:36 AM EDT
Appraiser set to conclude testimony
Real estate executive Doug Larson, whose cross-examination began yesterday afternoon, is scheduled to complete his testimony this morning.
Larson, who testified yesterday that phone calls with him that were referenced in Trump Organization financial documents did not actually take place, faced hours of cross-examination yesterday by defense attorney Lazaro Fields.
Fields grilled Larson on discrepancies in the final drafts of appraisals — a process that Larson acknowledged was less of a “science” than an “art.”
Jack Weisselberg, an executive at the real estate investment firm Ladder Capital who is also the son of Trump Organization ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg, is scheduled to testify next about his work refinancing a loan of Trump’s 40 Wall Street property.
“I suggest we call him Jack,” said Judge Arthur Engoron, anticipating confusion regarding the actions of both Weisselbergs.
Oct 17, 5:32 PM EDT
‘Justice will be served,’ James says after court adjourns for the day
After court adjourned for the day, New York Attorney General Letitia James offered one of her firmest repudiations of the former president’s claims.
“He can call me names, he can engage in distractions, but at the end of the day … his entire empire was built on nothing but lies and on sinking sand,” James told reporters outside the lower Manhattan courthouse.
Trump has frequently targeted James in his comments during courtroom breaks, criticizing her efforts as politically motivated and pushing an unfounded theory that the case against him is part of a plot of interfere in the 2024 election.
“This is an attorney general … that went out and campaigned on ‘I will get Trump,'” Trump said before entering court this morning, repeating attacks that he’s made on social media.
James fired back that her team has repeatedly demonstrated that Trump committed fraud, both in the first two weeks of the trial, as well as in Judge Arthur Engoron’s pretrial ruling about Trump’s fraudulent financial statements.
“He will again attempt to distract each and every one of you, attempt to raise his voice and scream,” James told reporters. “But at the end of the day, justice will be served, and I’m confident that victory will be mine.”
Oct 17, 4:24 PM EDT
Trump leaves court early
Former President Trump did not return to court after the mid-afternoon break, leaving his attorneys alone at counsel table for the cross-examination of professional appraiser Doug Larson.
The former president departed from the lower Manhattan courthouse in his motorcade.
Trump is scheduled to sit for a deposition today related to a civil lawsuit brought by former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page. Strzok filed suit against the Justice Department and the FBI in 2019, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated when he was wrongfully terminated the year before over private text messages with Page that reflected anti-Trump sentiments.
Oct 17, 3:55 PM EDT
Exec’s testimony shows ‘illicit agreement or scheme,’ state argues
State attorney Eric Haren has filed a letter with the court arguing that Trump Organization executive Patrick Birney’s testimony yesterday about Trump’s net worth should be admissible.
During his testimony, Birney claimed that CFO Allen Weisselberg told him that “Mr. Trump wanted his net worth on the statement of financial condition to go up.” Trump lawyer Chris Kise immediately objected to the statement as hearsay.
Judge Engoron then asked both parties to submit two-page memos by today, regarding whether the statements from Birney are hearsay.
“Regardless of its truth, Mr. Weisselberg’s statement tends to show the existence of an illicit agreement or scheme,” Haren wrote in his letter to the judge.
Haren argued that since Weisselberg is alleged to be a co-conspirator who carried out his “illicit objectives” through Birney, the statement should be considered admissible.
Oct 17, 2:23 PM EDT
‘Cohen didn’t have the guts,’ to testify, Trump says
While exiting court for a break, former President Trump took a swipe at his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who delayed his testimony in the ongoing trial.
Cohen was scheduled to testify on Tuesday, but postponed his testimony due to a medical issue.
“Cohen didn’t have the guts,” Trump told reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom.
Trump also continued his criticism of the law used by New York Attorney General Letitia James to bring the case, which he said “doesn’t give me any rights whatsoever.”
“I’m the victim here,” Trump said.
Oct 17, 1:53 PM EDT
Trump Organization’s claims are inaccurate, appraiser says
Doug Larson’s name appears across five years of Donald Trump’s financial documents, according to records entered into evidence.
A professional appraiser with the real estate company Newmark, Larson was cited in Trump Organization documents as an expert at valuing properties like 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and an adjoining retail space called “Niketown.” Spreadsheets entered as evidence explicitly reference multiple phone calls with Larson between 2013 and 2017.
When asked about these phone calls in court, Larson testified that no such conversations occurred.
“Is it fair to say that Mr. Trump valued Trump Tower at $526 million in conjunction with you?” state attorney Mark Ladov asked Larson.
“No, that is incorrect,” Larson said.
“Were you aware that Mr. McConney was citing you as a valuation source in his work papers?” Ladov asked.
“No, I was not,” replied Larson, who said he did not assist Trump Organization executives in valuing Trump Tower, Niketown, or 40 Wall Street, despite Trump’s paperwork referencing him as a source.
Evidence presented by the state instead suggested that the valuations were determined using cherry-picked metrics from a generic email Larson sent clients.
“It’s a way to get your name out to clients for potential work,” Larson said about one such “email blast” that was used in a Trump Tower valuation.
Larson added that the valuations Trump Organization executives determined based on “consultation” with him used flawed methodologies, such as using capitalization rates related to office buildings to appraise the retail Niketown building.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Larson said about Niketown’s $287 million valuation.
“It’s inappropriate and inaccurate,” Larson said about the Trump Organization relying on his name to support their valuations. “I should have been told, and appraisals should have been ordered.”
Oct 17, 12:01 PM EDT
CFO wanted fees omitted from ledger, exec says
With former President Trump looking on silently from his seat at the defense table, his civil fraud trial turned to the allegedly fraudulent valuation of his 40 Wall Street property.
The Trump Organization’s assistant controller, Donna Kidder, testified that around 2012, the company’s then-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, instructed her to omit from a financial ledger some of the fees the company charged to manage the building.
Kidder said Weisselberg described it as money that moved within the Trump Organization from “one pocket to another.”
The ledger documents, which were provided to the real estate investment firm Ladder Capital, were related to the refinancing of 40 Wall Street.
“Allen Weisselberg said that since they were affiliated entities, management fees could be omitted,” Kidder said.
Lowering expenses would make the building’s net operating income higher and, thereby, make the building more valuable, state attorneys said. The move helped the Trump Organization claim 40 Wall Street was worth $540 million when its true appraised value was $260 million, said the state.
Kidder also testified about the value of a penthouse apartment in Trump Park Avenue that was rented by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in 2011. The attorney general’s office has alleged the apartment was reported at a value several times higher than the agreed selling price.
Kidder testified that Ivanka Trump had been given an option to buy the unit, Penthouse 28, for $8.5 million. However, on statements of financial condition, the Trump Organization valued the apartment significantly higher, at $20.8 million in 2012 and $25 million in 2013.
Oct 17, 10:15 AM EDT
‘There’s no fraud,’ Trump says before entering courtroom
Donald Trump is back at the defense counsel’s table in the courtroom, seated between his lawyers Alina Habba and Chis Kise.
Speaking to the press before entering the courtroom, Trump railed against the trial, telling reporters that his assets were undervalued, reiterating his desire for a jury trial, and criticizing New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“This is the railroading that’s all coming out of the Department of Justice,” Trump said without offering proof of the accusation.
Press photographers were briefly permitted to enter the courtroom and take photos before testimony resumed.
“They are the eyes and ears of the public, or at least the eyes in this case,” Judge Arthur Engoron remarked as the photographers left the court.
Oct 17, 9:47 AM EDT
Attorney general back in attendance
New York Attorney General Letitia James is attending the civil trial this morning.
After greeting the press in the courtroom’s gallery, James returned to same front-row seat she used earlier in the trial.
James attended the first six days of the trial but had not been in the courtroom the last week.
Oct 17, 8:16 AM EDT
Trump says he’ll return to courtroom this morning
Donald Trump plans to attend his ongoing fraud trial in downtown Manhattan this morning, the former president said in a Truth Social post this morning.
Star witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and self-described “fixer,” will be absent from the courtroom after a medical issue delayed his testimony.
Trump will instead hear testimony from his company’s assistant controller, Donna Kidder.
State attorneys also plan to call real estate executives who appraised Trump properties, as well as real estate executive Jack Weisselberg, the son of former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who worked on a refinanced loan for Trump’s 40 Wall Street property.
Trump was in attendance for the first three days of the trial when it began two weeks ago.
Oct 16, 5:23 PM EDT
Trump Hotels chief accounting officer concludes testimony
State attorney Andrew Amer concluded his direct examination of Trump Hotels chief accounting officer Mark Hawthorn by applauding Hawthorn’s skills and experience.
Amer highlighted that Hawthorn successfully conducted cash flow analysis, understood estimated current value, and applied the generally accepted accounting principles to his work.
Asked by Amer if he was ever asked to work on Trump’s statement of financial condition — a job that was handled by other executives like CFO Allen Weisselberg and controller Jeffrey McConney, who in earlier testimony acknowledged their lack of knowledge regarding foundational accounting principles — Hawthorn replied that he was never approached about the task.
“I would be qualified to give it a try,” said Hawthorn.
Hawthorn then stepped down from the witness stand to make way for Trump Organization assistant controller Donna Kidder to begin her testimony, after which court was adjourned for the day.
Kidder’s testimony is scheduled to resume tomorrow morning, when former President Trump is expected to return to the courtroom.
Oct 16, 4:14 PM EDT
Assets on statement were apparently overstated, exec says
Trump Hotels chief accounting officer Mark Hawthorn testified that in 2018 he inadvertently overstated the value of Trump’s assets by relying on Trump’s statement of financial condition.
When an outside accounting firm requested the amount of Trump’s liquid assets, Hawthorn said he consulted the financial statement that listed “cash equivalents in excess of $290 million.”
The New York attorney general alleges that Vornado Partnerships, a separate company with whom Trump has a limited partnership interest, owned 30% of the “cash and cash equivalents” Trump claimed in his 2018 statement.
In his testimony, Hawthorn said that information was not disclosed in the statement. He also said that he only was able to view the statement briefly in a 20-minute Google Meet session.
“It appears to have been overstated,” Hawthorn said of the representation of Trump’s assets on the statement.
Oct 16, 2:57 PM EDT
Michael Cohen could testify next Monday, judge says
The earliest possible day that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen could testify is next Monday, Judge Engoron said.
Cohen, who for years was Trump’s so-called “fixer,” said an ongoing medical issue had forced him to postpone his testimony, which was originally scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Judge Engoron noted that he has not yet received Cohen’s “all-important doctor’s note,” but that he hopes to receive it sometime today.
Trump attorney Chris Kise criticized the delayed appearance of Cohen, who he described as central to the state’s case — noting that Cohen has continued to post to social media despite his medical issue.
“He does continue to be active in his pursuit of my client,” Kise said. “He does not appear to be that infirm.”
Oct 16, 10:23 AM EDT
Judge says he’ll clarify upcoming schedule
On the heels of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s decision to delay his testimony, Judge Engoron said that “the schedule for the rest of this week is somewhat up in the air.”
The judge, however, promised to offer clarity about the trial schedule later today.
Engoron also acknowledged the anticipated return on Tuesday of former President Trump to the courtroom.
When the judge, while waiting for a witness to enter, joked about arguing before an empty chair, defense attorney Chris Kise replied, “It won’t be empty tomorrow.”
Engoron responded with a smile, saying “So I hear.”
Oct 16, 8:11 AM EDT
Michael Cohen delays testimony as trial enters Week 3
The civil fraud trial of former President Trump, his adult sons, and Trump Organization executives enters its third week with a notable schedule change.
Trump’s former lawyer and so-called “fixer” Michael Cohen, who was initially scheduled to begin his testimony on Tuesday, has delayed his court appearance due to a preexisting medical condition.
“I look forward to testifying and correcting the record as to the multiple misstatements and responses by previous witnesses who stated … ‘I don’t recall.’ Unfortunately for them, I do,” Cohen told ABC News on Saturday.
Trump is expected to attend multiple days of the trial beginning on Tuesday, according to sources familiar with his plans.
In the meantime, Trump Organization executive Patrick Birney is expected to conclude his testimony this morning.
Birney is scheduled to be followed on the stand by Mark Hawthorn, the chief accounting officer at Trump Hotels.
Oct 13, 2:32 PM EDT
Ex-CFO wanted inflated value for Trump Tower, exec says
Trump Organization executive Patrick Birney was once pressured by his former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to use an unrealistic metric to inflate the value of Trump Tower, Birney testified.
Birney testified that he consulted a generic real estate report to determine a 2.67% capitalization rate to measure the value of Trump Tower — despite an executive at real estate company Cushman and Wakefield recommending a higher rate, which would have decreased Trump Tower’s value.
When Weisselberg and Birney discussed the topic in a Trump Tower restroom, Birney said he encouraged the CFO to use a higher, more realistic capitalization rate that would be more sustainable, in order to maintain the building’s value in the future, Birney testified.
“I think he said, just use 2.67%,” Birney recalled. “I said I am fine using that capitalization rate, but I am worried that if we are only using 2.67, the building is so old, next year there might not be a cap rate as low as 2.67.”
The New York attorney general alleges that Weisselberg “systematically rejected” multiple valuations of Trump Tower in 2019 that would have lowered its value between $161 and $224 million.
Court has adjourned for the day, with Birney scheduled to continue his testimony on Monday morning.
Oct 13, 12:04 PM EDT
Firm mulled using presidential ‘premium’ to boost net worth
Trump Organization executives considered adding $144 million to Trump’s net worth based on a “premium for presidential property” in 2017, according to testimony of executive Patrick Birney.
The premium, which was applied to draft versions of Trump’s financial statements, varied between 15% and 35% for Trump’s properties, including his Mar-a-Lago Club, which was described in documents as the “presidential winter residence,” according to materials entered into evidence.
The potential adjustment followed a $200 million shortfall between Trump’s 2016 and 2017 statements, after a Forbes magazine article prompted executives to revalue the former president’s penthouse, state attorneys said.
“Who directed you?” state attorney Eric Haren asked Birney about adding the premium.
“I don’t really remember, but probably Allen Weisselberg,” Birney said.
Birney testified that the premium was eventually removed from the 2017 statement, according to a document that tracked changes made to the statement. He did not provide additional context about why the premium was removed.
Oct 13, 8:26 AM EDT
Assistant VP to continue testimony
Trump Organization assistant VP Patrick Birney will continue his testimony this morning on Day Nine of the trial.
Roughly 40 years younger than ex-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg — his former boss and the previous witness in the trial — Birney testified yesterday that he largely relied on Weisselberg and controller Jeffrey McConney to put together Trump’s annual financial statements.
“I was not the final decision maker,” Birney said.
State attorney Kevin Wallace highlighted Birney’s statements during his opening statement as evidence of an alleged conspiracy within the Trump Organization to inflate Trump’s net worth.
“He likes to see it go up,” Birney said, according to Wallace.
If Birney completes his testimony today, Trump Hotels chief accounting officer Mark Hawthorn is scheduled to testify next.
Oct 12, 6:04 PM EDT
Trump Organization assistant VP explains valuations
Patrick Birney had been working for the Trump Organization for more than two years when a magazine article prompted him to change Trump’s financial statement, the assistant VP testified.
“There was an article written that stated that Mr. Trump’s triplex was actually 10,900 or so square feet,” Birney said, referring to a 2017 Forbes magazine article that alleged Trump had been lying about the size of his residence. (Judge Engoron decided in his partial summary judgment last month that the size was misrepresented.)
Birney testified that Trump Organization employees, including former CFO Allen Weisselberg, “verified” the size and adjusted the next year’s statement of financial condition. As a result, the penthouse was valued at $116 million in 2017 — a steep drop from the 2016 valuation of $327 million.
Birney testified that he looked up comparable properties to come up with the value of the apartment going forward.
“I Google searched recent penthouse sales in Manhattan,” Birney said, eventually landing on an web article about a penthouse purchased by billionaire Ken Griffin that set the record for most expensive home ever sold in the United States.
A price-per-square-foot for Trump’s penthouse was determined based on that record-breaking sale, Birney said.
When Birney was tasked with finding comparable properties to value Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, he similarly searched for nearby Palm Beach homes. However, Trump signed a deed in 2002 that limited Mar-a-Lago’s purpose to a social club, the New York attorney general alleges, making the price of nearby residences irrelevant.
Asked if he was ever told about the deed by anyone at the Trump Organization, Birney replied, “I don’t believe I was.” Instead, he said he first learned about it during an “interview with the attorney general’s office.”
Court then adjourned for the day, with Birney’s testimony scheduled to resume tomorrow morning.
Oct 12, 3:58 PM EDT
Trump Organization assistant VP says CFO had final say
Trump Organization assistant vice president Patrick Birney testified that CFO Allen Weisselberg and controller Jeffrey McConney had the final say on Trump’s financial documents when he worked under them.
“I was not the final decision maker,” Birney said.
Birney joined the Trump Organization in 2015, a few years after he graduated from the University of Michigan. He began helping with Trump’s statement of financial condition in 2016 and eventually took over preparing the vital financial document, though he acknowledged in court that he initially lacked some basic knowledge about accounting and finance.
Asked if he ever had valued a property using a capitalization rate, he replied, “I don’t think so.”
Birney said he would often turn to McConney if he needed specific documents, and that he reviewed drafts of the statement with Weisselberg.
“He would review drafts with me that I would provide him,” Birney said. He later added, “Allen Weisselberg had the authority to approve everything.”
Oct 12, 3:45 PM EDT
Trump Organization assistant VP takes the stand
Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has completed his direct examination, although he might be called back to testify by either the attorney general or the defense, Judge Arthur Engoron said.
“I am lifting the prohibition on discussing the case with counsel or anyone else,” Engoron said about Weisselberg.
Trump Organization assistant vice president Patrick Birney, who took over managing Trump’s statement of financial condition after controller Jeffrey McConney, took the stand following Weisselberg.
Oct 12, 3:06 PM EDT
Ex-Trump CFO testifies about family members’ roles
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg, under questioning from state attorney Louis Solomon, addressed the degree to which Donald Trump’s three adult children — Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka — were involved in the day-to-day running of the Trump Organization during the period from 2011-2022.
“They wanted to get up to speed on how the business was running,” Weisselberg said, noting that Trump’s run for president accelerated their engagement in the company.
Emails entered into evidence from around that time suggested that the three Trump children requested financial information about the company’s operations.
During one email exchange, Weisselberg directly asked Eric Trump to delay paying off a loan related to Trump’s Seven Springs estate so it wouldn’t affect the former president’s cash balance.
“If we have to pay off the loan I would like to do it post June 30th as that is the date of your dad’s annual financial statement … to keep his cash balance as high as possible,” the April 2015 email said.
Oct 12, 2:38 PM EDT
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg returns to the stand
Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has returned to the stand, nine months after he was sentenced to five months in prison for evading more than $1.7 million in taxes on unreported income in the form of company-provided perks.
One day before his sentencing in January, Weisselberg signed a severance agreement with his former employer saying that if he complied with all the conditions of the agreement, he would receive $2 million spread out over two years, according to court records.
One of those conditions, state attorney Louis Solomon highlighted in court, prevented Weisselberg from voluntarily cooperating with an investigation of his former company or boss.
“I didn’t give it a lot of thought, to be honest,” Weisselberg said when asked about the section of the agreement preventing him from cooperating with investigators.
“Is it just a coincidence that under this severance agreement, you are being paid $2 million, which is coincidentally the exact amount you were ordered to pay under your guilty plea?” Solomon asked.
“Coincidence,” Weisselberg replied.
Oct 12, 1:38 PM EDT
Bank’s loans to Trump were ‘good credit decision,’ says exec
Deutsche Bank’s $378 million in loans to the Trump Organization was a “good credit decision,” the bank’s former risk management executive told the court at the end of more than a day of testimony.
“I think we did a reasonably thorough analysis of the information,” former Deutsche Bank executive Nicholas Haigh testified under cross-examination by the defense.
An internal Deutsche Bank group evaluated Trump’s financial information, personally visited Trump Organization offices to review bank and brokerage records, and conducted some appraisals of property explicitly used as collateral, according to Haigh.
Though the value that Deutsche Bank determined for the properties often differed by hundreds of millions of dollars compared to the Trump-provided value, the entities continued to have what internal bank documents described as a “long and satisfactory relationship.”
“Using a Deutsche Bank-adjusted value for the assets, the net worth still exceeded $2.5 billion,” Haigh said, referring to Trump’s net worth as it related to a loan covenant.
When Trump decided to run for president and won the election, Deutsche Bank was supportive of the business relationship, though management was careful to monitor their particularly high-profile client, according to internal bank documents presented at trial.
“Note that the relationship continues to be monitored at the highest levels of senior management within the firm and any issues arising from the Guarantor’s status as President of the United States are immediately addressed, taken to the appropriate Reputation Risk committee, and discussed with appropriate legal counsel,” a credit report said.
When asked directly if the decision to work with Trump was a “good credit decision” by defense attorney Clifford Robert, Haigh responded, “I generally agree with that.”
During redirect questioning, state attorney Kevin Wallace stopped short of directly asking Haigh if he would have still done business with Trump had he known about the inflated value of Trump’s assets. But he asked Haigh whether Trump’s financial information could have been incomplete.
“You have no way of knowing if there was information that wasn’t provided to you?” Wallace asked.
“That is correct,” Haigh said, marking the end of his questioning.
Oct 12, 10:19 AM EDT
New York AG not in attendance for 2nd day
As the trial’s eighth eighth day gets underway, New York Attorney General Letitia James is absent from court for a second day.
While James attended the first six days of the trial, she did not appear at the proceedings yesterday.
Roughly a dozen lawyers and staff from the New York attorney general’s office have been attending the trial each day.
Oct 12, 8:44 AM EDT
Defense to scrutinize Deutsche Bank’s due diligence
Trump attorney Jesus Suarez will continue his cross examination of former Deutsche Bank risk management executive Nicholas Haigh when Trump’s civil trial resumes this morning.
Deutsche Bank was the Trump Organization’s largest single lender between 2011 and 2022, loaning the former president upwards of $300 million through the bank’s private wealth management division.
Describing himself as an “ultimate decider” of the loans’ riskiness, Haigh testified Wednesday that his decision-making process relied on Trump’s financial statements — documents that the New York attorney general alleges were fraudulent.
“I assumed that the representations of the assets and liabilities were broadly accurate,” Haigh said yesterday.
Earlier witnesses have testified about how Trump’s financial documents were drafted, finalized, and sent to banks — but Haigh is the first witness to testify from the perspective of the banks, which the attorney general says were allegedly deceived by Trump’s inflated financial statements.
Suarez, during his first hour cross examining Haigh on Wednesday, said Deutsche Bank was a sophisticated company that profited from the loans.
Haigh also acknowledged that the bank failed to conduct its own independent appraisals of Trump’s top properties, and did not rigorously examine his financial information.
Oct 11, 5:54 PM EDT
Trump’s business drew little scrutiny from bank, defense says
Deutsche Bank was a serious company in business with Donald Trump to make money, defense attorney Jesus Suarez said during his cross examination of former Deutsche Bank executive Nicholas Haigh.
At the height of its relationship with the Trump Organization, the company loaned Trump over $378 million and failed to commission independent appraisals of Trump’s properties, Haigh acknowledged. While the bank listed lower estimates for the value of Trump’s assets year after year, it continued to do business with Trump and his company.
“We … the bank hadn’t done all the due diligence one would do in the sense of the opinion of value you see in an appraisal,” Haigh said, at one point agreeing with the defense’s characterization that the bank’s internal value services group conducted “sanity checks” on the numbers.
The direct examination of Haigh by state attorney Kevin Wallace also left a central question about Deutsche Bank’s activity unanswered.
In a letter to the court and in previous arguments, lawyers for the attorney general suggested that Haigh might have turned away Trump’s business if he had known that Trump’s assets were inflated in value.
“As this Court noted during summary judgment arguments, Mr. Haigh testified during OAG’s investigation that he may not have authorized lending to the borrower if he had at that time been aware of the inflated asset values contained in Mr. Trump’s SFCs [statements of financial condition],” a lawyer for the attorney general wrote to the court in a letter last week.
Wallace never directly posed the hypothetical to Haigh during his direct examination, leaving the question unresolved.
Court subsequently adjourned for the day, with Suarez telling the court he plans to continue his cross examination of Haigh through Thursday afternoon.
Oct 11, 4:06 PM EDT
Bank wouldn’t extend Trump credit to buy Buffalo Bills, exec says
Former president Donald Trump and his company bid $1 billion in 2014 in an attempt to purchase the Buffalo Bills football team.
The only problem was that Trump needed a bank to help finance his bid.
Former Deutsche Bank executive Nicholas Haigh testified that when Trump turned to his bank for help, bank executives declined, fearing it would increase their financial exposure to Trump.
“Deutsche Bank was not willing to increase its credit exposure to Donald Trump at that time,” Haigh said.
But the bank was still willing to help Trump by sending a letter to support his bid, according to Haigh — on the condition that Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney certify that the company was still in compliance with the covenants of the three outstanding loans the bank had given Trump.
McConney verified that Trump had over $300 million in liquid assets in 2014, and that it suffered no material decrease in the value of his illiquid assets, according to a document entered into evidence today.
With that verification, Deutsche Bank issued a letter that Trump had the “financial wherewithal” to fund his bid.
Trump’s effort to purchase the Bills was ultimately unsuccessful.
Following this line of questioning, state attorney Kevin Wallace concluded his direct examination of Haigh. But he never asked Haigh if he would have approved Trump’s loans had he known about the inflated assets alleged by the attorney general.
In a letter to the court and in previous arguments, lawyers for the attorney general had suggested that the hypothetical question would be a central element of Haigh’s testimony.
Oct 11, 1:58 PM EDT
Trump had to maintain $2.5B net worth for loan, banker says
When Donald Trump negotiated a $125 million loan from Deutsche Bank related to his Trump National Doral golf club, the former president agreed to maintain a minimum net worth of $2.5 billion as a condition of the loan, former bank executive Nicholas Haigh testified.
The loan memorandum prepared by Deutsche Bank included a covenant that the “Guarantor shall maintain a minimum net worth of $2.5 billion excluding any value related to the Guarantor’s brand value,” according to a document marked as evidence today.
The New York attorney general alleges that Trump’s actual net worth at the time of the loan agreement was only $1.5 billion, an amount that would have triggered a default.
Retired Deutsche Bank executive Nicholas Haigh testified that he was involved in the decision to set the $2.5 billion figure, which he believed would protect the bank from exposure if the property failed or the broader market declined.
“It was set in order to make sure the bank was fully protected under adverse market conditions,” Haigh testified.
To calculate Trump’s net worth, Deutsche Bank looked at what Haigh described as Trump’s four “trophy properties,” all in Manhattan: Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street, Trump Park Avenue, and Niketown — a ground lease for a property adjoining Trump Tower.
Since the properties themselves were not provided as collateral for the loan, Deutsche Bank did not commission independent appraisals for the properties, and instead used a modified version of Trump’s own numbers.
“The bank normally only commissions appraisals on assets taken as collateral,” Haigh said.
Deutsche Bank adjusted their assessment in 2012, when they learned of a separate appraisal of Trump Tower that offered a lower value of the property than what Trump had provided.
“The bank felt that it had an independent view on the value of the asset,” Haigh said of the appraisal that prompted his bank to lower their value for Trump Tower from $1.2 billion to $992 million.
Oct 11, 11:59 AM EDT
Bank relied on Trump’s financial statement to secure loan
Deutsche Bank relied on the strength of Donald Trump’s “financial profile” when deciding to loan the former president roughly $125 million related to the purchase of the Trump National Doral golf club in 2011, according to retired Deutsche Bank executive Nicholas Haigh.
Haigh testified that because Trump used the golf course and spa as collateral — relatively “unusual” assets that Deutsche Bank would struggle to sell in the event of a foreclosure — the bank leaned on the strength of Trump’s larger portfolio.
“[Trump] is guaranteeing he will repay our loan — all the money due on the loan,” Haigh said about the terms of the loan. “He is also guaranteeing if the result is losing money, he will pay the cost of that shortfall.”
Haigh said that he personally reviewed Trump’s statement of financial condition when determining whether to sign off on the loan.
“My conclusion was the client owned a lot of real estate, which was not surprising,” Haigh said about his findings after reading Trump’s financial statement.
Previous witnesses in the trial have offered insights into how Trump’s annual financial statement was drafted, finalized, and provided to banks to fulfill loan obligations. Haigh is the first witness to testify from the perspective of the banks, which considered the statements when deciding whether to do business with Trump.
Oct 11, 10:56 AM EDT
‘Nobody forgot to check off a box,’ judge says about lack of jury
Responding to lingering questions about the lack of a jury at the ongoing civil trial, Judge Engoron stated on the record that Trump would not have been entitled to a jury trial.
“We are having a non-jury trial because we are hearing a non-jury case,” Engoron said, dispelling claims that the trial lacks a jury because Trump’s lawyers simply forgot to check off a box or file a motion.
“It would have not helped to make a motion. Nobody forgot to check off a box,” Engoron said.
During her opening statement, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said the former president would have preferred a jury trial, and Trump himself has made multiple posts on his Truth Social platform about the alleged injustice stemming from the lack of a jury.
“The AG checked off non-jury, and there was no motion for a jury,” Engoron said about the process in Trump’s case — but he added that if a motion for a jury trial had been filed, he would have rejected it because the attorney general asked for “equitable” relief, which does not entitle participants to a jury trial.
“I would like to say thank you, your honor,” Habba said about the clarification.
Oct 11, 10:36 AM EDT
New York AG not attending trial today
New York Attorney General Letitia James is absent from the courtroom this morning.
James attended the first six days of the trial, which started last Monday.
Former President Trump and Trump Organization VP Eric Trump both attended the first three days of the trial.
Oct 11, 9:39 AM EDT
Bank exec told AG he was unaware of inflated valuations
While the Trump Organization’s relationship with Deutsche Bank goes back 30 years, the attorney general alleges in her complaint that in 2011, Trump began doing business with the private wealth managers at the bank, rather than bankers who specialized in commercial real estate.
“In essence, rather than obtain credit facilities through the wing of Deutsche Bank with an expertise in commercial real estate, Mr. Trump began to seek funds from a wing of Deutsche Bank focused on servicing ultrawealthy clients,” the attorney general’s complaint said. “Hence, Mr. Trump’s personal guaranty, and his representations regarding his finances that backed up that guaranty, featured prominently in Mr. Trump’s loan transactions through the [private wealth management] wing of Deutsche Bank.”
During the attorney general’s investigation, Deutsche Bank credit risk executive Nicholas Haigh told investigators that he “may not have authorized” Trump’s loans if he was aware of the inflated values in Trump’s financial statements, according to a letter the state submitted to the court.
Oct 11, 9:04 AM EDT
Deutsche Bank executive set to take stand
Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial is set to resume this morning with the testimony of Nicholas Haigh, a credit risk executive who worked at Deutsche Bank when it issued loans to the former president.
Deutsche Bank was the largest single lender to the Trump Organization between 2011 and 2022, according to the New York attorney general.
Owing approximately $340 million to the bank at one point, the Trump Organization used Deutsche Bank to secure favorable loans related to its purchase of the Old Post Office Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois, and Trump National Doral golf club in Florida, according to the AG’s complaint.
Oct 10, 5:23 PM EDT
Ex-CFO can’t say who OK’d statements after Trump became president
Ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg, who testified earlier Tuesday that Trump approved his financial statements before they were finalized during the years between 2011 and 2016, was unable to recall who approved financial statements after Trump was elected president in 2016.
While he recalled discussing some elements of the statements with Trump Organization VP Eric Trump, he declined to say that either Eric or VP Don Jr. had final say regarding the statements.
Court then adjourned for the day.
Court is set to resume Wednesday morning with the testimony of Deutsche Bank risk manager Nicholas Haigh, who is testifying early due to a scheduling conflict.
Weisselberg is scheduled to return to the witness stand later Wednesday.
Oct 10, 4:40 PM EDT
Ex-CFO OK’d financial documents used to prevent loan default
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg testified that he certified that Trump’s financial statements were “true, correct and complete” so the documents could be provided to lenders to prevent a breach of contract resulting in a loan default.
“Please see the attached report required per our loan documents, for the above referenced loan,” a Trump Organization employee would write to lenders like Wells Fargo, according to examples entered into evidence.
The employee would include a certification, signed by Weisselberg, attesting to the accuracy of Trump’s financial documents.
“Did you understand that if you failed to provide this, the Trump organization would be in breach of its obligations under the loan agreement?” state attorney Louis Solomon asked Weisselberg for each email.
“Yes,” Weisselberg replied.
Oct 10, 3:37 PM EDT
Weisselberg says Trump signed off on financial statements
Donald Trump would approve his financial statements before they were finalized between 2011 and 2016, ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg testified.
Weisselberg said that Trump often had feedback about the notes sections of the statements, which contained more detailed descriptions of Trump’s properties.
“‘Don’t use the word beautiful. Use the word magnificent,'” Weisselberg offered as an example of the kind of feedback Trump would provide.
Earlier Tuesday, Weisselberg testified that he did not meet with Trump or attorney Michael Cohen to review the statements. Returning to the topic after the lunch break, Weisselberg described Trump’s final review of the document as a regular occurrence before he became president.
“Did you ever send it to the Mazars [accountants] … as a final version before Mr. Trump signed off on it?” state attorney Louis Solomon asked.
“Not that I can remember, no,” Weisselberg said.
Oct 10, 2:18 PM EDT
Ex-CFO suggested 30% ‘brand premium’ for golf course valuations
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg explained the Trump Organization’s process for valuing its marquee properties as a complicated, months-long process during which the firm’s controller, Jeffrey McConney, would reach out to appraisers and brokers to better determine their value.
“This took months to prepare. It was not a simple task,” Weisselberg said, adding that he reviewed McConney’s final product at a “30,000-foot level.”
But Weisselberg acknowledged that he often intervened in the process to push McConney in a certain direction.
In one example, Weisselberg testified that he suggested McConney add a 30% brand premium for seven of Trump’s golf courses — adding tens of millions of dollars in value without disclosing the reasoning.
“Was the 30% premium you directed Mr. McConney to add to the fixed assets disclosed in the statement of financial condition?” Solomon asked.
“No,” Weisselberg said.
During a later portion of his direct examination, Weisselberg testified he sent Trump Organization employee Patrick Birney — who took over handling Trump’s financial statements from McConney — a newspaper clipping about a nearby Palm Beach property in order to support the valuation of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.
“Patrick — hold for next year DJT f/s, Let’s see what it ends up selling for,” a handwritten note from Weisselberg on the clipping said.
Weisselberg acknowledged his hesitancy to use that property’s asking price to help value Mar-a-Lago.
“Anyone can ask anything for a dollar amount. Doesn’t mean it’s going to sell,” Weisselberg said.
Oct 10, 2:01 PM EDT
Ex-CFO acknowledges firm’s fundamental failures of responsibility
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg acknowledged under questioning that the Trump Organization failed to fulfill some of the basic promises detailed in letters between the firm and its external accountant, Mazars USA.
“Do you believe the Trump Organization fulfilled that fundamental responsibility?” state attorney Solomon asked Weisselberg regarding a 2017 letter from Mazars that outlined the Trump Organization’s responsibility to select the accounting principles used in financial statements.
“No,” Weisselberg responded.
Asked about a separate letter outlining the Trump Organization’s responsibility to comply with generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, Weisselberg initially suggested that the Trump Organization fully relied on Mazars to comply with the accounting standards.
“We relied on Mazars to understand GAAP,” Weisselberg said.
“You were relying on Mazars to make a representation back to Mazars?” Solomon said, prompting Weisselberg to reverse his statement.
When questioned about the seemingly boilerplate accounting obligations to which the Trump Organization agreed, Weisselberg appeared to struggle to articulate who at the Trump Organization fulfilled the basic responsibilities as outlined.
Oct 10, 1:21 PM EDT
Weisselberg denies discussing financial statements with Trump
After initially evading the state’s question, ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg denied that he ever met with Trump to discuss his financial statements.
“Did you ever meet with Donald Trump or Michael Cohen where there was discussion of the statement of financial condition before it was finalized?” state attorney Louis Solomon asked.
Weisselberg initially responded that he did not recall such a meeting happening, before answering more definitively.
“No. I don’t believe it happened,” Weisselberg said.
Judge Engoron, appearing skeptical of the answer, asked Weisselberg to confirm.
“Could it have happened, and you just don’t remember?” Engoron asked.
“I am saying it did not happen,” Weisselberg responded.
The attorney general’s opening statement for the case included a portion of the deposition of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who claimed that Trump met with him and Weisselberg to direct them to increase his net worth, in order “to be higher on the Forbes list” of billionaires.
“Allen and I were tasked with taking the assets, increasing each of those asset classes in order to accommodate that eight-billion-dollar number [Trump requested],” Cohen said in the deposition.
Oct 10, 11:55 AM EDT
Weisselberg concedes Trump’s triplex is smaller than valuation
Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg testified that Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower is 10,996 square feet — which is a third the size that Trump claimed on financial documents.
In October 1994, Trump signed a document that certified his penthouse triplex is 10,996 square feet, but his statements of financial condition for several years beginning in 2012 listed the apartment as 30,000 square feet.
An attorney with the New York attorney general’s office showed the page with Trump’s signature to Weisselberg, who appeared to struggle to explain the discrepancy.
“It was always in my mind a de minimis asset on the statement of financial condition,” Weisselberg said. “I never even thought about the apartment.”
Louis Solomon of the attorney general’s office confronted Weisselberg with emails from Forbes magazine seeking clarity about the apartment’s size, as well as a letter signed by Weisselberg certifying the 30,000 square foot figure to the Trump Organization’s then-accountant, Mazars USA.
Weisselberg offered a lengthy take on the discrepancy, prompting Judge Arthur Engoron to intercede.
“Your role is to answer the questions, not to give speeches. Please just answer the questions,” Engoron said.
“Forbes was right, the triplex was actually only 10,996, right?” Solomon asked.
“Right,” Weisselberg finally conceded.
“I’ve been through quite a bit the last two years,” Weisselberg said at one point during the morning’s questioning. The former CFO moved to Florida following three months in jail after he pleaded guilty last year to criminal fraud charges and subsequently testified against the Trump Organization.
Oct 10, 9:47 AM EDT
Weisselberg to be questioned about valuations
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg is expected to face questions this morning about his work valuing properties like Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower and Trump’s 40 Wall Street building, as well as the Trump Organization’s efforts to secure loans from banks and Weisselberg’s direct conversations with the former president.
Weisselberg is the second named defendant to testify in the ongoing civil trial.
Trump Organization controller and co-defendant Jeffrey McConney, who concluded his testimony on Friday, was deemed a hostile witness by Judge Arthur Engoron, giving the state more latitude in their questions.
Oct 10, 9:08 AM EDT
Ex-CFO Weisselberg last year pled guilty to tax fraud
Ex-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg’s expected testimony this morning comes six months after he was released from New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex after pleading guilty last year to 15 felony charges related to a long-running scheme to avoid $1.7 million in taxes while working for the Trump Organization.
As a condition of his plea deal, Weisselberg testified last year in the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal trial of the Trump Organization itself.
“Are you embarrassed about what you did?” Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas asked Weisselberg during the criminal trial last November.
“More than you can imagine,” replied Weisselberg, who testified that Trump himself was unaware of his tax evasion scheme.
The Trump Organization was convicted and later paid a $1.6 million fine imposed by the judge overseeing the case.
Oct 10, 8:22 AM EDT
Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg expected to take stand
Former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg is expected to testify when former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud resumes this morning.
A named defendant in the case alongside Trump and his adult sons, Weisselberg allegedly supervised and approved the inflated valuations in Trump’s financial statements at the center of the state’s case, according to prosecutors.
He’s also alleged to have personally met with the former president each year between 2011 and 2016 to review and get approval for the fraudulent financial statements.
“Mr. Trump made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on the Statements to increase — a desire Mr. Weisselberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of the Statements,” New York Attorney General Letitia James wrote in her initial complaint.
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