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Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media after testifying in his civil fraud trial on Nov. 6, 2023, in New York.
when Donald Trump He began his defense Monday against charges that he, his adult sons and his business defrauded lenders and insurers to enrich themselves, with his lawyers aiming to convince a judge that the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was the first witness to convince a judge they did nothing wrong.
Under oath, he denied any role in preparing his father’s financial statements and said he consulted with lawyers and accountants before signing the statements as a trustee of his father’s trust and annually certified their accuracy to banks that loaned him millions of dollars. The Trumps also argued that banks They were happy with their business.
Trump’s lawyers, who are opening their case in the seventh week of the trial, have recalled some of the state’s witnesses as they make their case for the charges.
In addition to Trump Jr., Trump lawyers have said they are likely to recall Eric Trump and the former president, both of whom have previously testified.
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The thrust of the Trump defense is that financial statements are not misleading and that different people can bring different values to the same asset.
The defense argued that because the Trump family relied on accountants, there was no intent to defraud banks or insurers, and that the differences in the values of the assets were not meaningful.
The Trump team has argued that financial statements are not important to decisions such as lending policies to lenders or insurers. They also argue that no banks have lost money and no one has claimed they were defrauded or misled by the financial statements.
When Trump Jr. takes the stand, he will be questioned by lawyers representing the Trump family and businesses. This would allow him more freedom in the questions and answers he could give than if he were cross-examined by the state’s lawyers. It also opens him up to cross-examination by state prosecutors.
Trump’s attorneys did not cross-examine the former president or family members — only questions that cross-examined attorneys fell within the scope of the prosecutor’s questioning. Recalling Trump Jr. and others, their answers were more descriptive and not limited to the “yes” or “no” answers the attorney general’s office has tried to emphasize.
Donald Trump has said in testimony that his lawyers will call bankers to testify about the processes used in underwriting decisions. Her team plans to call several expert witnesses about Trump Organization executives and valuations and accounting.
Judge Arthur Engoron said Thursday that he would allow Trump’s lawyers to call expert witnesses, rejecting an attempt by the attorney general’s office to block their testimony.
In September, before the trial began, Engoron ruled The Trumps engaged in “persistent and repeated fraud” by inflating the value of assets in financial statements.
The state is trying to prove six other claims, including conspiracy, falsifying business records, providing false financial statements and insurance fraud. The attorney general’s office is seeking to recover millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains and ban the Trumps from doing business in New York state.
Over six weeks, prosecutors introduced hundreds of pages of documents and called 25 witnesses, including Trump, his sons and his eldest daughter. Ivanka Trump, before resting their case last week. They also called accountants, current and former Trump Organization officials, appraisers, an insurance underwriter, a bank risk officer and Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. In addition, the government called an expert witness who testified that the Trumps improperly earned favorable interest rates on at least $168 million in loans.
Ivanka Trump was originally charged in the case, but the court in June Rejected the requests against her.
The government alleges that the Trumps were involved in valuing assets on financial statements; Those documents were certified by Trump and Trump Jr.; They were also sent to external accountants, lenders, insurers and government officials associated with the two properties.
Trump’s lawyers are expected to wrap up their defense case by December 15.