Trump to reinstate his position in New York fraud trial

Donald Trump will give the final word in his defense against allegations that his business engaged in a decade of fraud as a New York trial threatening his business empire draws to a close.

The former president is expected to take the stand for a third time on Monday, this time under questioning from his own legal team.

In testimony last month in the state case, Trump defended his business practices by downplaying key financial documents and calling the process corrupt. His impassioned testimony often turned political, more like a silly speech than a direct examination, as he lambasted the New York judge and attorney general, whom he denounced as “crooks” and “political hacks.”

“It is disgraceful that such a thing happens; all you have to do is read the legal scholars — the documents — and you’ll understand,” Trump testified in November, raising his voice. “This is a political witch hunt.

But with Trump’s lawyer handling the questioning this time around, the former president will have significantly more freedom to tell the story and get his side of the story.

During the defense’s case, which began in mid-November, several witnesses repeated previous testimony while offering their own version.

The first time Donald Trump Jr. testified in the New York attorney general’s case, he distanced himself from the documents at the heart of the case — his father’s financial statements detailing the value of the Trump Organization’s various assets and sent to banks and insurers to secure loans and transactions. The suit by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) alleges that the Trump Organization falsely adjusted the value of its assets to get tax and insurance breaks.

The defendant in the case, Donald Trump Jr., said he signed off on Trump’s financial statements while his father was president. But he said he trusted the work of accountants and executives like then-Chief Financial Officer Alan Weiselberg to be fair.

“As a trustee, I have an obligation to listen [to] those who are experts — who have experience in these things,” Donald Trump Jr. testified.

But when he testified again in the defense case, the key financial statements were hardly the focus of his testimony. Instead, Donald Trump Jr. walked Judge Arthur Engoron through a glossy slideshow titled “The Trump Story,” a glowing account of the Trump Organization’s origin story, complete with elegant photos of the company’s luxury golf courses and hotels. The valuations of these properties were particularly silent.

Jeff McConaughey, a former corporate controller of the Trump Organization and another defendant in the case, gave similarly divergent testimony when called as a state witness against the defense.

McConney’s testimony was used as a tool for state attorneys to present evidence that Trump’s financial statements were integral to some loan deals. He also said he believed Trump reviewed those documents before they were finalized, linking Trump to the distorted documents.

But McConney’s defense testimony focused much less on logistics. Almost in tears, he testified about the exhaustion caused by the Trump Organization’s stack of legal problems that ultimately led the 36-year company veteran to retire in February.

“I’m very proud of the work I’ve done,” McConey said, before detailing all the investigations and legal proceedings he’s been involved in.

“I just wanted to relax and stop being accused of misrepresenting assets for the company I loved working for,” he said.

When Trump takes the stand again, the arguments he tried to make while testifying for the state could be bolstered and reformulated after the testimony of other defense witnesses backed him up.

Several Deutsche Bank executives, for example, confirmed the defenses, including that the bank wanted to work with the Trump Organization, did its own due diligence and found no fraud. Trump made these points in his own testimony.

“The banks check the work,” Trump testified, claiming that his financial statements were not taken at face value by the bankers the Trump Organization executives worked with.

Deutsche Bank Managing Director David Williams testified last month in his defense that bankers viewed their clients’ financial statements as “subjective or subject to estimates” — and that the bank took its own view of the net worth statements.

“I think we expect the information provided by customers to be accurate,” Williams said. “At the same time, it is not industry standard for these reports to be audited.”

“They rely heavily on using valuations,” he added, so bankers routinely “make some adjustments.”

It is almost inevitable that Trump’s inflammatory political rhetoric will resurface.

In the month since he testified, Trump and his lawyer have been embroiled in a battle with the judge, who they say was biased against them from the start. The dispute began after Engoron imposed a ban on Trump and his lawyers from publicly discussing the judge’s staff.

The order does not prevent the Trump team from criticizing the judge himself or James, the state attorney general. Regardless, the claim put Engoron squarely in Trump’s line of fire on social media and in person. During his testimony last month, Trump criticized the judge for “hating Trump” and questioned his impartiality.

The former president’s legal team tried to delay the testimony until their appeal of the gag order came out, but the judge flatly rejected that effort.

“He is unable to testify fully because he is subject to a gag order,” Trump’s attorney Chris Kise argued, according to ABC News.

“Absolutely not. No way. No how. This is a non-starter,” Engoron said.

Trump’s third round of testimony — after a judge-ordered stay on the stand for violating a gag order and his state background check — could also provide insight into how he will behave as his criminal trials begin in the new year. year.

The former president faces a total of 91 charges in four criminal cases, the first of which is expected to go to trial in Washington on March 4.

The Associated Press contributed.

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