Trump fraud probe in New York turns up testimony in financial records

NEW YORK — The civil trial for alleged business fraud by Donald Trump and his company focused on testimony about financial statements on Tuesday, as the former president returned to court for the second day in a row to observe the trial in person.

The hearing began Monday in a Manhattan court, where attorneys representing Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) spent the day presenting their arguments in the case.

James has filed a $250 million lawsuit alleging that Trump and executives at his company boldly misrepresented the facts about his assets in order to obtain better financial returns. The lawsuit alleges that Trump and his organization perpetrated a blatant fraud.

Trump, on the other hand, said there was no way to assess the property’s value and insisted there was no wrongdoing.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the case, issued a pretrial ruling last week that could revoke Trump’s business licenses and strip dozens of properties from his control at Trump Tower. The hearing will determine how severe the final penalties will be, with James asking Trump and his company to pay $250 million.

A $250 million fraud trial is underway in New York against Donald Trump

The trial could last weeks or months, and Trump may testify during the trial.

Although he was not required to attend the opening days of the trial, Trump preferred to appear in court and used the opportunity to speak extensively to reporters before, after and during breaks on Monday. He issued his usual tirade against the case, James, Engoran, and the other officers investigating him.

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Trump, who returned to court Tuesday morning, criticized James in brief remarks to reporters before entering the courtroom, insisting his assets were worth more than he claimed.

A New York civil trial began on October 2 accusing former President Donald Trump and his company of massive fraud. (Video: Michael Catenhead/The Washington Post)

Trump did not answer a barrage of questions from reporters before walking into the courtroom, where he looked briefly at James, who was already inside.

In his remarks on Monday, Trump, who is running for the Republican nomination for president next year, complained that the case was forcing him to lose time on the campaign trail.

Trump also faces significant legal risk, with criminal charges filed against him in four separate cases in New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington, DC. Three of the four cases are set to go to trial next year amid the presidential election campaign.

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Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has attacked the investigations as politically motivated, a point he repeated in New York on Monday.

But while Trump has argued against the New York case outside the courtroom, proceedings inside have often focused more on the matters at hand: the nuts and bolts of real estate valuations and how financial statements are made. Some of the action Monday afternoon was prompted by testimony from Donald Bender, a longtime accountant for Trump’s company and its executives.

James’ office has said it wants to prove that Trump, his adult sons, his company, certain executives and related entities attempted to commit fraud by issuing false financial statements. Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kiss, has repeatedly rejected these arguments.

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“No illegality, no fraud, no victims,” ​​Kiss said. At the close of proceedings on Monday afternoon, Engoran He appeared willing to exclude evidence related to older transactions, which Trump’s lawyers argued should be dismissed from the case based on a recent appeals court ruling dealing with statutes of limitations.

Trump took Engron’s comments as a victory, telling reporters that much of the attorney general’s case could be dismissed, a sentiment echoed by one of his lawyers. James’ office later challenged that explanation.

On Tuesday morning, before testimony resumed, Engoron opened proceedings by saying he wanted to “clear up any misconceptions” in his comments and that he wasn’t going to dismiss the claims in the case, as Trump said.

Soon after, Bender resumed his testimony. Bender discussed topics including contracts between his accounting firm and Trump’s business. When questioned by James’ office, Bender confirmed that the contracts would place the burden on the company to provide accurate property valuations.

Berman reported from Washington. This story will be updated.

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