Donald Trump Set to Take the Stand in New York Civil Fraud Trial
New York (AFP) – Donald Trump, known for his business acumen, is set to testify in a civil trial where he is accused of fraudulently inflating his assets to advance his real estate empire. On Monday, the 77-year-old former president is expected to appear before New York judge Arthur Engoron. Trump’s son, Eric, expressed his anticipation ahead of the testimony. However, the relationship between Trump and Engoron has been contentious, with Trump referring to the judge as “unhinged” and a “Trumphating, radical left, Democrat operative.” Engoron has imposed fines on Trump for violating a partial gag order.
This will not be Trump’s first testimony in connection with the case. He has provided testimony twice before, but those sessions were held behind closed doors. In his previous deposition, Trump referred to the proceedings as the “greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” and criticized New York State Attorney General Letitia James as an “out of control prosecutor.”
A New York judge has ruled that Donald Trump fraudulently inflated his real estate assets, including Trump Tower in Manhattan.
The upcoming trial, which will be decided solely by the judge rather than a jury, is just one of many legal challenges faced by Trump, who currently leads the opinion polls as the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner. Testimonies have already been given by two of his children, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as executives from the Trump Organization, the conglomerate that manages various real estate properties worldwide.
Even before opening arguments, Judge Engoron ruled that James’ office had presented “conclusive evidence” of Trump overstating his net worth by $812 million to $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021. Consequently, Engoron ordered the liquidation of companies overseeing the assets involved, such as Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street skyscrapers in Manhattan, and the luxurious Seven Springs private estate in the suburbs.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has led the fraud case against Donald Trump.
While the order for liquidation is pending appeal, the potential impact of the ruling underscores the significance for the former president. The New York civil trial is only one aspect of his legal challenges, as he also faces four criminal trials during the 2024 campaign season.
In March, Trump, who was twice impeached during his time in the White House but not convicted, is expected to stand trial in federal court in Washington on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results, which he lost to President Joe Biden.
Despite the media attention surrounding his legal troubles, Trump’s popularity in polls remains unaffected. In a hypothetical 2024 rematch, he even leads Biden in several key states, according to a recent poll by The New York Times and Siena College.
A Family Affair
Donald Trump Jr. (2nd L) and Eric Trump (C) have testified in their father’s fraud trial.
Trump’s lawyers have rejected allegations of fraud, arguing that real estate valuations are subjective and that the banks lending to the Trump Organization have not suffered any financial losses.
Both Don Jr. and Eric Trump have claimed they were not involved in preparing the organization’s annual financial statements, leaving that responsibility to accountants. However, prosecutors presented email evidence contradicting their claims during Eric’s testimony.
The parade of family witnesses continues as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who no longer holds an official role within the Trump Organization, is expected to testify despite multiple attempts to avoid it.
Having established the existence of fraud before the trial began, Judge Engoron must now determine if additional financial crimes were committed and decide on any potential fines. Prosecutors have sought penalties of up to $250 million.