Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization fraud civil trial at New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York on October 24, 2023.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Former president Donald Trump arrived at the Manhattan courthouse Monday to testify in the $250 million civil fraud trial that threatens to torpedo his family’s business empire.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to permanently ban Trump and his two adult sons from running a business in the Empire State because, she says, they engaged in years of financial fraud.
James’ lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court alleges that the Trumps intentionally misreported the value of his assets in financial statements in order to falsely inflate Trump’s net worth and obtain various financial benefits.
“At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the facts,” James said before entering the courthouse Monday morning. “And the numbers, my friends, don’t lie.”
The witness stand is a rare position for the former president and current Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential race. Trump’s aggressive political and personal style will be put to the test when he is forced to answer questions under oath.
Trump insists the financial statements at the heart of the matter were never intended to be final.
“My value is much greater than on the financial statements, plus they contain a full disclaimer directing readers of this information to do their due diligence,” Trump said. job on Truth Social on November 2.
But Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohenaccused him in court of directing executives to falsely manipulate his net worth.
The first time Trump was questioned under oath in this case, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 440 times during a deposition with James’ lawyers in August 2022.
Legal experts say that unlike in a criminal case, where a defendant choosing to take the Fifth cannot be held against him, in a civil case a judge can draw an adverse inference from a witness’s refusal to testify.
Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, said last week that they deferred to the company’s accountants who helped them prepare the annual financial statements.
Judge Arthur Engoron, who will deliver verdicts in the nonjury trial, has already found the defendants liable for fraud and ordered their New York business certificates to be canceled. The trial, which is scheduled to last until the end of December, addresses six other allegations made by James.
Trump is appealing Engoron’s pretrial ruling, which is on hold while the trial proceeds. He consistently denies any wrongdoing and frequently repeats a long list of public defenses, including claims that his financial records contained an absolute disclaimer and that the banks that approved his loans ultimately made money .
This is developing news. Please check again for updates.