Defense attorneys for Donald J. Trump this week will offer insight into his business operations and continue the parade of experts testifying on his behalf in a Manhattan courtroom.
The lawsuit stems from a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Ms. James accused Mr. Trump and other defendants, including his companies and his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, of inflating asset values to get lucrative loans and insurance deals. Monday will be the 32nd day of the former president’s civil fraud trial and the second week of the defense will begin.
The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, ruled even before the trial that Mr. Trump and the other defendants were guilty of fraud and he would decide the punishment. Ms. James demanded that Mr. Trump pay $250 million and that he and his sons be permanently barred from operating businesses in New York.
Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing. His lawyers argued that the assets had no objective value and that different valuations were common in real estate. He is expected to return to testify in his defense in the coming weeks.
This week, Mr. Trump’s lawyers will call insurance expert David Miller and former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, who is also indicted. The trial will be suspended for Thanksgiving.
Mr Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, returned to the courtroom on November 13 as the defense’s first witness. He began the lawsuit by offering a rosy image of the Trump Organization’s ownership and praised his father as a “genius” and a “visionary.”
It was Donald Trump Jr.’s second time on the stand: He testified weeks ago in the attorney general’s case.
His testimony was followed by that of experts, including Jason Flemons, a former deputy chief accountant at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Flemons, who reviewed Mr. Trump’s financial statements, testified that the Trump Organization used professional accounting methods. He said that depending on the method used, asset valuations can vary widely, and that it would be acceptable for the Trump Organization to choose the highest as long as the method of arriving at it is disclosed.
The gag order (temporary) has been lifted
During the first week of the trial, Mr. Trump shared a social media post with a photo of Judge Engoron’s staff attorney, Alison Greenfield, standing next to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; he called her “Schumer’s friend” and accused her of “bringing this case against me.”
In response, the judge issued an order barring Mr. Trump from commenting on court personnel. In the past seven weeks, Mr. Trump has violated the order twice, resulting in $15,000 in fines.
Earlier this month, Judge Engoron expanded the gag order to include Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The lawyers appealed both orders.
On Thursday, a New York appeals court judge temporarily halted the gag orders. In response to the ruling, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Christopher M. Kise, said: “Fortunately, the Constitution and the First Amendment protect everyone, including President Trump.”
Hours after the stop, Mr Trump posted a message on his Truth Social platform, calling Ms Greenfield “politically biased” and “out of control”.
The gag orders will be assessed by a full appeals panel in the coming weeks.
Motion to Quash Trial
Mr. Trump’s lawyers also called for a mistrial last week, citing “palpable and compelling” evidence of bias on the part of Judge Engoron and Ms. Greenfield, both Democrats. Mr Trump and his lawyers objected to Ms Greenfield’s prominence and frequent discussions with the judge, saying it appeared she was “judging”.
The motion, filed in state Supreme Court on Wednesday, mentions Judge Engoron’s sharing of articles about the case with his high school alumni newsletter and political donations made by Ms. Greenfield.
Mr. Kise said in an email that “the notion that an openly and clearly biased individual would have any role in the decision-making process of this unprecedented case runs counter to the founding principles of American judicial independence.”
Judge Engoron on Friday dismissed the mistrial motion, a decision that is likely to be appealed.
“My decisions are mine and mine alone,” Judge Engoron wrote. “It is within my absolute discretion to consult the court record, the law and the facts before making an appropriate decision.”
What should I expect?
Mr. Trump’s lawyers will continue to present their case after Thanksgiving, likely calling on more experts and bank representatives. In addition to Mr. Trump, other defendants may return to testify, including his son, Eric.
At the conclusion of Mr. Trump’s case, the attorney general will likely call rebuttal witnesses. The process is expected to be completed by December 22.