Donald J. Trump’s defense attorneys will this week offer a look at his business operations and continue the parade of expert witnesses testifying on his behalf in a Manhattan courtroom.
The lawsuit stems from a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Mrs. James has accused Mr. Trump and other defendants, including his companies and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, to inflate the value of assets to obtain favorable loans and insurance contracts. Monday will be the 32nd day of the civil fraud trial against the former president and begin the second week of the defense.
The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, ruled even before the trial that Mr. Trump and the other defendants were responsible for fraud, and he will determine the penalty. Mrs. James has requested that Mr. Trump pays $250 million and that he and his sons are permanently barred from doing business in New York.
Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing. His lawyers have argued that the assets had no objective value and that different valuations are common in real estate. He is expected to return to testify in his own defense in the coming weeks.
This week, Mr. Trump’s lawyers call insurance expert David Miller and former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, who are also indicted. The trial will break on Thanksgiving.
Witnesses for the Defense
Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., returned to the courtroom on November 13 as the first witness for the defense. He started the proceedings by offering a rosy portrayal of the Trump Organization’s properties, praising his father as a “genius” and a “visionary.”
It was Donald Trump Jr.’s second time on the stand: He testified weeks before in the Attorney General’s case.
His testimony was followed by testimony from experts, including Jason Flemmons, a former deputy director at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Flemmons, who reviewed Mr. Trump’s accounts, testified that the Trump Organization had used professional accounting methods. He said that depending on the method used, the valuation of assets could vary widely, and that it would be acceptable for the Trump Organization to choose the highest as long as the method of reaching it was disclosed.
Gag Order (temporarily) lifted
During the first week of the trial, Mr. Trump posted on social media a photo of Justice Engoron’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield, standing next to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; he called her “Schumer’s girlfriend” and accused her of “bringing this case against me.”
In response, the judge issued a gag order prohibiting Mr. Trump to comment on court personnel. In the past seven weeks, Mr. Trump has violated the order twice, resulting in $15,000 in fines.
Earlier this month, Justice Engoron extended the gag order to include Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The lawyers appealed both rulings.
On Thursday, an appellate judge in New York temporarily stayed the rulings on the gag. In response to the decision, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Christopher M. Kise, “Thankfully, the Constitution and the First Amendment protect everyone, including President Trump.”
Within hours of the stay, Mr. Trump posted a message on his Truth Social platform calling Ms. Greenfield “politically biased” and “out of control.”
The gag orders will be evaluated by a full appeals panel in the coming weeks.
Motion for Mistrial
Mr. Trump’s lawyers also called for a mistrial last week, citing “palpable and overwhelming” evidence of bias by Judge Engoron and Ms. Greenfield, both Democrats. Mr. Trump and his lawyers have objected to Ms. Greenfield’s prominence and frequent arguments with the judge, arguing that it appears she is “co-referencing”.
The motion, filed in state Supreme Court on Wednesday, cited Judge Engoron’s sharing of articles about the case with his high school alumni newsletter and political donations from Ms. Greenfield.
Sir. Kise said in an email that “the notion that an openly and obviously biased individual would have any role in the decision-making process in this unprecedented case is completely contrary to the fundamental principles of American judicial independence.”
Judge Engoron on Friday denied the request for a mistrial, a decision that is likely to be appealed.
“My rulings are mine and mine alone,” Justice Engoron wrote. “That I may consult the judicial record, the law and the facts before issuing an order is within my sole discretion.”
What can you expect
Mr. Trump’s lawyers will continue to present their case after Thanksgiving and will most likely call more expert witnesses and bank representatives. In addition to Mr. Trump may have other defendants come back to testify, including his son Eric.
At the end of Mr. Trump’s case, the attorney general will most likely call rebuttal witnesses. The trial is expected to conclude on December 22.