Trump fraud trial: With gag order lifted, Trump blasts judge’s clerk online


(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $250 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.

Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engaging in a decade-long scheme in which they used “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate Trump’s net worth in order get more favorable loan terms. The trial comes after the judge in the case ruled in a partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted “fraudulent valuations” for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.

The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump’s alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 17, 8:58 AM EST
Trump touts defense witnesses’ testimony

Following the fourth full day of testimony from witnesses for the defense Thursday, Donald Trump took to social media overnight to tout his case.

The former president posted that defense witnesses have “conclusively” proven that his financial statements were conservative and adequately disclosed, while claiming that New York Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Arthur Engoron “knowingly, substantially, & outrageously” devalued his assets.

After criticizing Engoron’s law clerk in a post last night, Trump’s latest posts do not reference the clerk, who Trump was previously prohibited from mentioning under the limited gag order that was temporarily lifted yesterday.

Nov 16, 8:51 PM EST
With gag order lifted, Trump blasts judge’s clerk online

Hours after an appeals court temporarily lifted a gag order that prohibited Donald Trump from commenting about court staff in his civil fraud trial, the former president criticized Judge Arthur Engoron’s law clerk on social media.

Describing the gag order as “Ridiculous and Unconstitutional,” Trump applauded the appeals court for its decision and described Engoron’s clerk as “politically biased and out of control.”

Engoron issued the limited gag order after Trump made a false social media post about the clerk last month. This evening’s post marked the first time Trump has explicitly mentioned her since then.

Trump also attacked New York Attorney General Letitia James, calling her a “worldwide disgrace,” and his former attorney Michael Cohen, who testified against him during the trial.

Nov 16, 5:55 PM EST
Engoron ends day without addressing gag order

After attentively watching the testimony of the defense’s real estate expert Steven Laposa, Judge Engoron adjourned court for the day without referencing the stay of his limited gag order issued this afternoon by an appellate court.

The judge’s clerk, Allison Greenfield — who was the subject of Trump’s false social media post that triggered Engoron’s limited gag order last month — remained in her regular seat next to the judge after the ruling came down.

Court will resume with Laposa back on the stand Friday.

Nov 16, 5:38 PM EST
Real estate expert describes NY AG’s approach as ‘flawed’

The New York attorney general’s approach to valuing Donald Trump’s properties was “flawed,” according to testimony from the defense’s real estate expert Steven Laposa.

Laposa said that the attorney general’s complaint relied on a market value analysis of Trump’s properties, rather than the investment value of the assets, which would consider the asset’s value based on an individual’s investment requirements instead of market norms.

“In my opinion, it’s flawed,” Laposa said about the attorney general’s findings.

Judge Arthur Engoron appeared attentive during Laposa’s testimony, overruling an objection from the state that would have limited the scope of his testimony.

“I want to hear what he says about evaluations,” Engoron said.

Nov 16, 4:19 PM EST
Defense teams applauds lifting of gag order

Defense attorney Alina Habba, speaking to reporters outside court, said that an appellate judge’s decision to temporarily stay Judge Engoron’s limited gag order on Donald Trump would allow the defense team to continue raising issues with the conduct of Engoron’s clerk, Allison Greenfield.

Habba also said she saw no reason to advise Trump to refrain from attacking Greenfield now that the gag order has been stayed — despite Judge Engoron’s concerns about his staff facing threats.

“There is not a day that I don’t get a threat. It’s just part of the game,” Habba said. “If I put something out on social media, and I get a threat for it, which has happened to me every single day, I don’t get to cry.”

“Ms. James is continuing to disparage my client,” Habba said, referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the lawsuit against Trump. “And they were grasping at straws for a reason to say that the president should be gagged. There was no reason.”

James did not ask for the gag order, which was issued by Judge Engoron last month out of concern for the safety of his staff after Trump posted on social media about Greenfield.

Nov 16, 4:00 PM EST
Responses to gag order stay due by Wednesday

New York Attorney General Letitia James and representatives for Judge Arthur Engoron have until Wednesday to file a response to the appellate judge’s stay of the limited gag order imposed last month on Donald Trump by Engoron, according to the appellate judge’s order.

Trump’s reply is then due on Nov. 27 before the appellate court decides whether to fully lift the gag order. The civil fraud trial is expected to wrap up in mid-December.

Engoron’s “gag orders entered during the non-jury trial in the underlying proceeding are unconstitutional, and sanctions imposed there under are in violation of the Judiciary Law and Rules of this court,” Trump’s attorneys said in arguing for the order to be lifted.

Oral arguments about the gag order were presented at a separate courthouse from the courtroom where Trump’s civil trial is taking place. Engoron, who is hearing testimony from an expert witness, has not commented on the decision.

Nov 16, 3:10 PM EST
Appeals court temporarily lifts Trump gag order

A New York appeals court has temporarily lifted the limited gag order imposed on Donald Trump by Judge Arthur Engoron.

Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s first department ruled from the bench after a brief oral argument.

The judge stayed the limited gag order, citing constitutional concerns over Trump’s free speech rights.

“Considering the constitutional and statutory rights at issue, an interim stay is granted,” Judge Friedman said in a handwritten order.

The gag order was imposed by the Engoron last month after Trump posted about the judge’s law clerk on social media.

Nov 16, 2:51 PM EST
Trump seeks emergency stay of limited gag order

Attorneys for Donald Trump have filed an emergency application for a stay of the limited gag order issued by last month Judge Engoron, asking that an appeals court annul and vacate the gag order and fines imposed against him.

Trump has been fined on two occasions, for a total of $15,000, after making statements referencing the judge’s clerk, and the judge recently extended the gag order to apply to lawyers in the case.

Trump’s lawyers argue that the gag order is an unconstitutional violation of Trump’s freedom of speech, which they say Engoron has used as a “unfettered license to inflict public punishments on a defendant for the defendant’s out-of-court statements.”

“As applied to President Trump, it also prevents a presidential candidate from commenting on the public conduct and possible ethical violations of a critical member of Justice Engoron’s chambers,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Engoron has said the gag order is meant to protect his staff from violence, noting that his chambers has received hundreds of threatening phone calls, messages, and packages over the course of the trial. While Trump’s lawyers described Engoron’s desire to protect his staff as “understandable,” they argue the gag order is too broad a “curtailment of plainly protected speech in a trial playing out on a national and international stage.”

An attorney for the New York attorney general responded to the filing by describing the gag order as the least restrictive means available to protect Engoron’s staff.

“The First Amendment does not prohibit courts from restricting speech that threatens the safety of the court’s staff or frustrates the orderly progression of a trial,” the attorney general responded in a letter to the appeals court.

Nov 16, 1:55 PM EST
Trump attorney jokes about football coach

In a moment of levity during a break between witnesses, Judge Arthur Engoron noted that Trump attorney Chris Kise has not yet led the questioning of any witnesses.

“How come you don’t get the pleasure of questioning people?” Engoron asked.

“There’s still time left,” Kise responded, saying that he prefers to coach his team from the sideline like famed New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick or Jimbo Fisher.

Fisher received a record buyout after being fired as coach of Texas A&M this week.

“I’d like to be fired from my job and collecting $77 million,” Kise quipped.

“I’ll see if I can arrange that,” Engoron joked.

Nov 16, 1:22 PM EST
GSA flagged issues with Trump’s financial statements

Steven Collins, an expert in contract procurement, testified that the federal government’s General Services Administration — which reviewed Donald Trump’s proposal to renovate the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C. — identified issues in Donald Trump’s statement of financial condition.

“Financial statements provided by Mr. Trump was qualified by his accountants as not complying with GAAP” or generally accepted accounting principles, a GSA document entered into evidence said about a “notable weakness” of Trump’s proposal.

However, said Collins, Trump’s financial capability as reflected in the statements comprised no more than 15% of the evaluation factors considered by the GSA, which more heavily weighed Trump’s site plan and financial offer in ultimately deciding to award Trump the contract.

Collins testified for roughly an hour for the defense and faced no questions during cross-examination.

Nov 16, 11:45 AM EST
Lawyer suggests Trump trying to throw ‘accountants under the bus’

State attorney Kevin Wallace, in his redirect examination of the defense’s expert witness Jason Flemmons, asked the accounting expert a single question.

“When you were at the Securities and Exchange Commission, did you ever encounter issuers facing allegations of fraud [try] to throw their accountants under the bus?” Wallace asked, in an apparent jab at the defense’s contention that the responsibility for Donald Trump’s financial statements lies with his accountants.

Trump’s lawyers quickly objected to the question. Judge Engoron, visibly smirking, sustained the objection.

Earlier, when asked by Judge Engoron about his compensation for serving as an expert witness, Flemmons said he was unable to estimate the total amount but that his hourly rate was $925 per hour. Michiel McCarty, who testified as an expert witness for the state, testified earlier this month that he charged a similar rate.

Nov 16, 10:56 AM EST
Valuing properties ‘not an exact science,’ says expert

The defense’s accounting expert, Jason Flemmons, testified that the process of determining the estimated value of a property could result in a range of values “no one of which is the right or wrong answer.”

The assertion from Flemmons supports the defense’s long-standing argument that performing valuations such as the ones listed on Donald Trump’s statements of financial condition is more akin to an art than a science.

“Estimated current value is not an exact science. There is not one single correct value that comes of this exercise,” Flemmons said.

Flemmons testified that insofar as Trump used an approved method to determine value, and disclosed that method, the value would be appropriate.

“You are communicating that to the user and allowing that user to be in a position to agree or disagree,” Flemmons said.

State attorney Kevin Wallace has concluded his cross-examination of Flemmons, allowing defense lawyer Jesus Suarez to begin his redirect examination of the accounting expert.

Nov 16, 9:25 AM EST
NY AG requests Dec. 8 deadline to respond to mistrial motion

New York Attorney General Letitia James has requested a Dec. 8 deadline to respond to what she called the “spurious allegations” in Donald Trump’s motion for a mistrial, a day after Trump sought a mistrial claiming bias on the part of Judge Arthur Engoron and his clerk.

If granted, the request would delay any decision on the mistrial motion until later in the trial and likely push any potential appeal until after the trial has concluded.

State attorney Kevin Wallace cited the “considerable daily attention” of the trial and the impending Thanksgiving holiday as reasons for the extended deadline.

“The Office of the Attorney General’s position is that — putting aside the total lack of merit to Defendants’ application for a mistrial — it is preferable to have the Court hear and decide the application on full briefing,” Wallace wrote.

Nov 15, 5:52 PM EST
Expert acknowledges he didn’t review each of Trump’s statements

State attorney Kevin Wallace, cross-examining defense expert Jason Flemmons, attempted to challenge Flemmons’ testimony by pressing the accountant on his experience with personal financial statements and his work reviewing Trump’s statements.

Flemmons testified that he himself had compiled fewer than five statements of financial condition, none of which were done after 2000. He also acknowledged that he did not review each of Trump’s financial statements between 2011 and 2021, which are the subject of the New York attorney general’s complaint.

Flemmons generally underplayed the importance of the financial statements by suggesting that most issues Wallace raised were “easily curable with a phone call.”

Asked if he could provide a specific example where he was involved in such a follow-up inquiry, Flemmons failed to offer an example and instead generally referred to his time working for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Court was subsequently adjourned for the day, with Wallace scheduled to continue his testimony tomorrow morning.

Nov 15, 3:27 PM EST
Trump adequately disclosed accounting methods, expert says

The defense’s accounting expert could not identify any departures from generally accepted accounting principles — known as GAAP — in Donald Trump’s statements of financial condition that were not disclosed, according to his testimony.

“I don’t believe I have identified any additional discrepancies with GAAP that were not covered by those disclosures,” Jason Flemmons testified toward the end of his direct examination.

Flemmons also testified that the statements appropriately cited their use of appraisals, challenging the state’s assertion that Trump ignored vital appraisal information.

“Was the use of appraisals accurately described in the statements?” defense attorney Jesus Suarez asked.

“I believe so. I don’t believe there was anything that contradicted the use of appraisals but also other bases for evaluating the properties,” Flemmons responded.

Suarez concluded his lengthy direct examination, setting up state attorney Kevin Wallace’s cross-examination of Flemmons.

Nov 15, 2:06 PM EST
Accounting expert says he’s attesting to methodology, not results

After Jason Flemmons, the defense’s expert accounting witness, had testified at length about how Donald Trump’s financial statements included adequate disclaimers to explain his departure from normal accounting standards, Judge Engoron interjected to push back on the testimony.

That prompted Flemmons to confirm he is attesting largely to the general accounting methods used by the Trump Organization — not the specific numbers they provided for each of their assets.

As Flemmons gets further into his second day on the stand, Judge Engoron’s initial enthusiasm regarding his testimony appears to be on the wane, with the judge sustaining more of the state’s objections and asking increasingly skeptical questions.

Nov 15, 12:44 PM EST
Trump warned lenders statements may be unreliable, expert says

Donald Trump disclosed that 95% of the assets listed in his 2014 statement of financial condition departed from generally accepted accounting principles — known in the industry as GAAP — according to the defense’s expert witness Jason Flemmons.

The testimony from the defense’s accounting expert bolsters Trump’s argument that the departures from GAAP in his statements were adequately disclosed to lenders, making the lenders themselves responsible for drawing their own conclusions about the valuations listed in the documents.

It also supports the defense’s position that Trump’s statements fell within the regulations on personal financial statements, thus shielding him from allegations of fraud.

Nov 15, 12:03 PM EST
Judge delays ruling on mistrial after Trump claims bias

Judge Arthur Engoron did not issue a ruling on the defense’s motion for a mistrial in court, opting to give the New York attorney general time to determine if the state wants to respond to the request.

“I would ask if we could have until tomorrow to determine if we want to put in anything,” state attorney Kevin Wallace said after Engoron’s asked if the state plans to file a response.

The testimony of expert witness Jason Flemmons is now resuming.

Nov 15, 11:49 AM EST
Motion accuses judge of ‘predetermining’ trial’s outcome

In their motion for a mistrial, lawyers for Donald Trump and his adult sons argue that Judge Engoron has “predetermined the outcome of this proceeding and is merely going through the motions before it ultimately doles out punishment.”

Writing that the actions of both Engoron and his clerk create an appearance of impropriety that has resulted in “biased rulings,” Trump’s lawyers warn of wide-reaching implications.

“Left unchecked, the introduction of such demonstrable pro-Attorney General and anti-Trump/big real estate bias into a case of worldwide interest involving the front-runner for the Presidency of the United States impugns the integrity of the entire system,” they write.

Their three-pronged motion argues that the extrajudicial conduct of Engoron, the political activity of his clerk, and their rulings — including their gag order and fines — are each irreparable harms that can only be remedied by scrapping the entire trial.

“Only the grant of a mistrial can salvage what is left of the rule of law,” they write.

Nov 15, 10:50 AM EST
Trump is ‘trying to dismiss the truth,’ NY AG spokesperson says

A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James described Donald Trump’s motion for a mistrial as an effort “to dismiss the truth and the facts.”

“Donald Trump is now being held accountable for the years of fraud he committed,” the spokesperson said. “He can keep trying to distract from his fraud, but the truth always comes out.”

Trump’s motion for a mistrial takes aim at Judge Engoron as well as his law clerk, who frequently collaborates with the judge before he rules on objections, the admissibility of evidence, and other legal matters.

The judge imposed a limited gag order prohibiting statements about his staff after Trump posted about the clerk on social media.

Nov 15, 10:31 AM EST
Trump moves for mistrial, claiming bias on part of judge, clerk

Donald Trump and his co-defendants have filed a motion seeking a mistrial on the grounds that the trial has been “tainted” by the appearance of bias on the part of Judge Arthur Engoron and his law.

“This appearance of bias threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution,” Trump’s attorneys say in the filing. “As developed herein, in this case the evidence of apparent and actual bias is tangible and overwhelming.”

“Specifically, the Court’s own conduct, coupled with the Principal Law Clerk, Allison Greenfield’s unprecedented role in the trial and extensive, public partisan activities, would cause even a casual observer to question the Court’s partiality,” they write.

“Such evidence, coupled with an unprecedented departure from standard judicial procedure, has tainted these proceedings and a mistrial is warranted,” the filing says.

Nov 15, 9:23 AM EST
Expert witness to resume testimony for defense

Donald Trump’s lawyers are scheduled to resume their direct examination of expert witness Jason Flemmons this morning, continuing a line of questioning yesterday that largely placed responsibility for Trump’s financial statements on Trump’s external accountants.

Flemmons, who was qualified as an expert on accounting, explicitly criticized the testimony of Donald Bender, Trump’s accountant at Mazars USA who was the New York attorney general’s first witness, disputing Bender’s claim that he would have wanted to see any appraisals that the Trump Organization conducted.

Flemmons also testified that Trump’s financial statements should have sent a “buyer beware” signal to lenders due to the “highly cautionary language” in their disclaimer, which allowed Trump to make claims that significantly departed from generally accepted accounting principles.

To the extent that the statements and the Trump Organization’s representations about the statements were inaccurate, Flemmons placed responsibility on Bender and his colleagues at Mazars, rather than the Trump Organization.

Nov 14, 5:56 PM EST
Expert calls Trump CPA’s testimony ‘not professionally plausible’

Expert witness Jason Flemmons cast doubt on the testimony of the Trump Organization’s former external accountant Donald Bender, who said he would have wanted to review any appraisals that the Trump Organization conducted.

“That’s not something that is required by professional standards,” said Flemmons, testifying for the defense. “His testimony was not professionally plausible.”

That prompted a strong objection from state attorney Kevin Wallace.

“Is he trying to say the witness is lying?” Wallace said.

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” Judge Engoron quipped.

Asked to confirm what he meant by “professional plausible,” Flemmons said it would be “highly unusual” for Bender to request appraisals outside what was mentioned in the statement of financial condition.

“Accountants in the industry do not go seeking records for things that are not in the four corners of the statement of financial condition,” Flemmons said.

Court was subsequently adjourned for the day, with Flemmons scheduled to continue his testimony tomorrow.

Nov 14, 4:07 PM EST
Trump’s disclaimer told bankers to ‘beware,’ expert says

Defense expert Jason Flemmons described the disclaimer included in Donald Trump’s financial statement as the “highest level disclaimer” that could have been provided to bankers reviewing the document.

Flemmons said that the disclaimer, which he said includes “highly cautionary language,” would allow a user to make claims that significantly departed from generally accepted accounting principles, known in the industry as GAAP.

“Was that language present in a substantially similar form in the compilation statements issued by Mazars for Donald Trump?” defense attorney Jesus Suarez asked.

“Yes,” Flemmons said, adding that the disclaimer was “effectively saying ‘user beware."”

During his testimony and in statements to the media, Trump has claimed that the disclaimer shields him from liability in the case.

Suarez also used Flemmons’ testimony to suggest that Trump’s external accountants were responsible for understanding the methods used in the financial statement and determining their appropriateness.

That appeared to conflict with testimony of former Trump accountant Donald Bender of Mazars USA, who described his role as akin to plugging numbers provided by the Trump Organization into a template.

Nov 14, 2:49 PM EST
Expert says property valuations can be ‘wildly different’

Taking the witness stand as an expert witness for the defense, accountant Jason Flemmons offered testimony in support of Donald Trump’s approach to valuing his Mar-a-Lago property, which has been the subject of debate throughout the seven weeks of the trial.

In his summary judgment decision, Judge Engoron found that Trump overvalued the estate by at least 2,300% because the Palm Beach County Assessor appraised the property’s market value between $18 and $27.6 million after Trump signed a deed that restricted its use to a social club, potentially limiting its resale value as a residence but ensuring a tax cut. Trump, in contrast, listed its value in his financial statement between $426 million and $612 million, and during his appearances in court and online he has repeatedly attacked Engoron’s finding.

Flemmons argued that Trump’s approach to valuing his assets gave him latitude to consider his property’s future revenue streams. That approach, according to Flemmons, could result in “wildly different values” between the numbers listed on a personal financial statement and a tax assessed value.

“Tax assessed values are typically on the lower end of the spectrum,” Flemmons said, while Engoron looked on attentively.

While he never mentioned Mar-a-Lago by name, Flemmons was asked by defense attorney Jesus Suarez about a hypothetical property assessed at $18 million but valued closer to $500 million using a comparable sales approach — the same approach used to value Mar-a-Lago.

“It would not be unusual to have a value in the hundreds of million using projected cash receipts,” Flemmons said.

Engoron then turned his chair toward Flemmons and began asking his own questions.

“I am trying to get to the order of magnitude we are talking about here,” Engoron said. “What is the highest value you have ever seen legitimately placed on such a property?”

Flemmons could not provide a specific example to answer Engoron’s question but reiterated that a massive discrepancy could be appropriate.

Nov 14, 2:04 PM EST
House Republicans call for probe of Cohen after his testimony

House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Michael Turner and House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik have requested that the Department of Justice investigate Michael Cohen for perjury following his testimony in the trial last month.

During his trial testimony, Cohen said that he lied to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2019 when he said that Donald Trump and Allen Weisselberg did not ask him to inflate Trump’s personal statement.

“So, you lied under oath in February of 2019? Is that your testimony?” defense attorney Alina Habba asked in court.

“Yes,” Cohen responded.

Shown his 2019 testimony in court, Cohen subsequently reversed himself and said that his 2019 testimony was truthful, explaining the contradiction by clarifying that Trump speaks like a “mob boss” and that he indirectly asked for his statement to be inflated.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland sent today, Stefanik and Turner requested that the Department of Justice open an investigation into Cohen potentially committing perjury.

“That Mr. Cohen was willing to openly and brazenly state at trial that he lied to Congress on this specific issue is startling,” they wrote. “His willingness to make such a statement alone should necessitate an investigation.”

Last week, Stefanik sent a separate judicial complaint to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct related to the conduct of the judge overseeing Trump’s trial. In a statement to ABC News, a court representative said in response that the judge’s actions “speak for themselves.”

Nov 14, 1:18 PM EST
Judge stops expert’s testimony following state’s objection

Donald Trump’s lawyers abruptly stopped the testimony of their first expert witness — who was expected to testify for a full day or two — after Judge Engoron limited the topic areas of his testimony.

Steven Witkoff, a real estate investor and longtime friend of Trump’s, was brought into court by the defense team to testify that Trump’s Doral golf club was undervalued in Trump’s financial statements.

But Judge Engoron sustained an objection from the state barring any testimony about the valuation of Doral, significantly limiting Witkoff’s testimony and appearing to hamper the defense strategy proposed by Trump’s attorney Chris Kise.

Kise argued that the inaccuracies in Trump’s statement of financial condition can cut both ways: Even if some properties were overvalued, other properties like Doral were significantly undervalued and balanced out the statement, according to Kise.

“It is highly, extraordinarily relevant if there are assets that are undervalued substantially on those same statements,” Kise said. “They can’t look at this one-sided.”

State attorney Andrew Amer fiercely rebutted that argument, telling Engoron he should not take the defense’s position that the inconsistencies “come out in the wash.”

That argument appeared to convince Engoron, who said that overvaluations would not “insulate” a false valuation. He promised to sustain any objection that related to the value of Doral — an approach Kise described as “lunacy.”

“The reader of the financial statement has the right to know whether each particular number was accurate,” Engoron said. “They are looking for accuracy.”

Nov 14, 10:26 AM EST
Judge doesn’t address post Trump shared calling for his arrest

As court got underway this morning, Judge Engoron — who has said he has received harassing messages regarding his role in the trial — did not address Trump’s sharing of a post on his Truth Social platform calling for his arrest.

The former president yesterday shared a user’s post calling for the “citizens arrest” of Engoron and Attorney General Letitia James “for blatant election interference and harassment.”

When he expanded the case’s limited gag order earlier this month, Engoron said that his chambers had received hundreds of “harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters, and packages” since the start of the trial.

The gag order does not prohibit attacks against Engoron himself or the New York attorney general.

Nov 14, 9:40 AM EST
Defense to call first expert witness

Donald Trump’s defense team plans to call their first of several expert witnesses to the stand today.

Steven Witkoff, a New York-based real estate investor and developer, is set to testify about his expert opinion that the Trump National Doral golf course in Miami was undervalued in Trump’s financial statement, despite the attorney general’s claim to the contrary.

The expert report Witkoff prepared for the case also criticized the finding from the state’s expert regarding the value of Trump’s 40 Wall Street property.

During a 2018 roundtable on tax reform, Trump called Witkoff a “pal” who he inspired to enter the real estate industry.

“You know, people don’t realize Steve started out as a lawyer — a very good lawyer, a top lawyer in New York. And then he said, ‘I’m going to go into the real estate business because I can do this, too,” Trump said. “He saw me do it, and he said, ‘If Trump can do it, I guess I can do it, right?"”

Nov 14, 9:02 AM EST
James, Trump respond as defense begins its case

In a video statement posted to social media, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that the testimony of Donald Trump Jr. yesterday failed to refute any of her case against Donald Trump and his adult sons.

“After spending a full day walking through a marketing presentation to sell us all on the greatness of the Trump Organization, the defendants did not make a single point to refute the case we brought against them,” James said of Trump Jr., who led off the defense’s case.

Trump’s eldest son, an executive VP with the family firm, functionally served as a summary witness to explain the history and notable assets of the Trump Organization, repeatedly using words like “spectacular” and “incredible” to spell out the details of Trump’s properties.

James, meanwhile, drew the ire of Donald Trump for appearing to smile in court.

“A.G. Letitia James is smirking all day long from her seat in Court, as New York continues to set records in murder and other violent crimes, and businesses flee to other States,” Trump wrote on Truth Social this morning, despite murders in New York City being down nearly 10% this year, according to the NYPD.

Nov 13, 5:55 PM EST
Court adjourns for day after tax lawyer’s testimony

The defense wrapped up the first day of its case with testimony from Donald Trump’s former external tax lawyer, Sheri Dillon, who returned to the witness stand to clarify her actions related to conservation easements at Trump’s properties.

Dillon previously testified during a lengthy and combative portion of the state’s case.

“Welcome back. I feel like I am at a reunion — Trump trial reunion,” Judge Engoron joked when Dillon returned to the courtroom.

Dillon, explaining a potential gap in email communications about specific deals, testified that she often communicated with Eric Trump over the phone.

“If I picked up the phone and talked to him, I would know he knew what he needed to know,” Dillon testified.

She also said she advised Trump’s appraiser, David McArdle, that the company could add 40 additional residential units at Trump National Golf Club in New York’s Westchester County by filing a new offering plan, according to an email shown in court. The clarification challenges the New York attorney general’s allegation that a $101 million increase in the value of undeveloped land was based on an unfounded plan by Eric Trump to add units to the property.

During a short cross-examination, state attorney Louis Solomon attempted to challenge Dillon’s authority to provide such legal information to McArdle.

“Do you know if a sponsor has a right to have an offering plan accepted for filing merely because the development meets the requirements for zoning?” Solomon asked.

“No, I do not,” she responded.

Dillon concluded her testimony, and court then adjourned for the day.

Nov 13, 5:41 PM EST
Trump Jr. acknowledges positive rapport with judge

Speaking outside the courthouse following his testimony for the defense, Donald Trump Jr. told ABC News that he seems to have a positive relationship with Judge Engoron.

“Perhaps there’s a New York personality there, but no I think he understood,” Trump Jr. said when ABC News suggested he and the judge appeared to get along. “I can’t help myself even in this very serious situation. If you take yourself too seriously the world sort of sucks. You got to have a little bit of fun with it, so I did.”

His relationship with the judge appears to stand in contrast to that of his father, who has accused Engoron of bias and insulted him from the witness stand.

“We had some quips in the courtroom the first time I was here,” Trump Jr. said of Engoron. “Sort of gave me a fist bump on the way out. I guess I had a rather snappy response to something that was — I can’t even remember what it was right now. He said, ‘That was really funny."”

Asked by ABC News whether Trump Jr. shared his father’s views about the judge being biased, the son demurred.

“Listen, I don’t even know how far the gag order applies, so I don’t need to do that and put myself — I’m in enough crosshairs, guys,” he said.

Nov 13, 4:56 PM EST
Trump Jr. says aunt’s death made for a ‘rough day’

Following the completion of his testimony, Donald Trump Jr. made the first family comments acknowledging the death of his aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, calling it “a rough day.”

“Obviously, a little bit of a rough day, but I’ve still got to deal with this stuff. We’ve got to keep doing it. That’s the nature of all of this. But no, it’s a rough day for myself and my family,” Trump Jr. said of the news that former President Trump’s sister had passed away at 86.

Trump Jr. also slammed New York Attorney General Letitia James for bringing the civil fraud case despite what Trump Jr. said was “no actual person complaining other than the attorney general herself.”

“Hopefully, one day the people of this great city will realize what’s going on. They’ll realize the destructive practices here. They’ll realize just how insane that is. And they’ll be begging for guys like Donald Trump to come back to New York City to reshape the skyline as he’s done for decades,” Trump Jr. said.

He said he does not plan to return to court for the continuation of the defense’s case tomorrow.

Nov 13, 3:43 PM EST
Donald Trump Jr. concludes testimony

Donald Trump Jr. stepped off the witness stand after roughly three hours of testimony.

His own attorney, Clifford Robert, concluded his direct examination by asking Trump Jr. about the fate of the Trump Organization.

“I guess a lot of that depends on what happens next November,” Trump Jr said, speculating that the company might be “sued into oblivion.”

Assistant New York Attorney General Colleen Faherty cross-examined Trump Jr. for less than ten minutes about the deterioration of Trump’s assets, including financial problems at 40 Wall Street and Trump’s licensed hotel in Hawaii. Trump Jr. appeared unfamiliar with the 40 Wall Street issues and said he was happy with the Hilton’s deal to buy out the Trump Organization’s Hawaii hotel licensing deal.

Nov 13, 2:54 PM EST
Trump Jr. says golf course site was ‘old-school New York mob job’

Donald Trump Jr., in testimony for the defense, touted the work of the Trump Organization to convert a landfill in the Bronx, New York, into a “absolutely incredible” golf course.

“It was raw dirt. It had been that way for a long time,” Trump Jr. said of the original site of Trump Links Ferry Point near the Whitestone Bridge.

“People were supposedly trying to build a golf course for years,” Trump Jr. said about previous efforts to build the facility, describing it as an “old-school New York mob job” where people got paid to move dirt around but not build anything.

Trump Jr. said that once his father got involved in the project, the site was successfully transformed in a matter of months.

Nov 13, 1:42 PM EST
Trump Jr. to get new and improved sketch

When he was last in court, Donald Trump Jr. took a particular interest in his courtroom sketch.

“He said, ‘Make me look sexy,"” the sketch artist Jane Rosenberg told ABC News. By some accounts, the result was underwhelming.

Rosenberg has another opportunity to draw Trump Jr. with his return to court, and she thinks the new iteration is coming along well.

“I think they get better every time,” she told ABC News.

Earlier in his testimony, Trump Jr. joked about a photo of his brother Eric Trump.

When the slideshow Trump Jr. was narrating displayed a professional headshot of his brother, Trump Jr. took a job at his younger sibling.

“A lot of Photoshop,” Trump Jr. joked.

Nov 13, 1:12 PM EST
Trump Jr. assails judge’s finding on Mar-a-Lago

In presenting a slideshow chronicling the Trump Organization’s properties, Donald Trump Jr. highlighted many of their luxury features and iconic views — implicitly suggesting their value.

That’s particularly true of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, which Judge Engoron in a pretrial ruling determined was worth only a fraction of the amount claimed by Donald Trump, because Trump signed a deed that restricted its use to a social club, thereby limiting its resale value.

Describing how he took “umbrage” to the judge’s determination that Mar-a-Lago was worth between $18 and $28 million, Trump Jr. highlighted specific features to challenge that finding. Showing an aerial photo of the property, Trump Jr. said that a nearby home whose size was dwarfed by the social club has been on sale for $50 million.

“You couldn’t build that atrium for $18 million today,” Trump Jr. said while presenting a photo of the building’s historic atrium.

Nov 13, 12:53 PM EST
With glossy slides, Trump Jr. recounts firm’s story

Donald Trump’s testimony in the defense’s case has so far centered around a slide show being presented by the defense, entitled “The Trump Story,” that paints a timeline of Donald Trump’s real estate acquisitions. When state attorneys objected to the glossy presentation — which Trump Jr. acknowledged was created by his marketing team — the judge allowed the slides, and thus permitted Trump Jr. to testify unrestrained about the company’s properties.

“He’s an artist with real estate. He sees the things other people don’t,” Trump Jr. said at one point when describing his father.

As he narrates the slide show, Trump Jr.’s testimony resembles a lecture on real estate, sprinkled with details about his family’s properties — such as the individual stones used to construct the Seven Springs estate or the bank safes at 40 Wall Street, which he said once stored gold from the Federal Reserve.

“They’re actually spectacular … it’s truly a mechanical work of art,” Trump Jr. said of the safes.

Referencing broken down historic properties that the company has transformed back to their former glory, Trump Jr. called such properties the “canvas” for his his “father’s art.”

“He understands and has an incredible vision that other people don’t,” Trump Jr. said.

After a particular lengthy response, Trump Jr. referenced his father’s own tendency to speak in prolonged monologues, joking, “I got half the genes.”

Nov 13, 11:06 AM EST
Trump Jr. details history of Trump Organization

Testifying for the defense, former President Trump’s eldest son described his father as a real estate “visionary” who “sees the sexiness in a real estate project,” creating value for the family business that cannot be captured on paper.

Donald Trump Jr. began his testimony with a quip after Judge Engoron welcomed him back to the stand following his testimony earlier in the month.

“I’d say it’s good to be here, but the attorney general would probably sue me for perjury,” Trump Jr. joked.

In his testimony, Trump Jr. described the Trump Organization as “a large family business,” with Trump and his eldest children at the top and other executives handling many of the details.

“If there were numbers and things, I would rely on them to give me that,” Trump Jr. said.

He recounted the history of the Trump Organization, beginning with his great-grandfather who he said built hotels in the Yukon Territories of Canada. His grandfather, Fred Trump, “started working on job sites around Queens, learned the trades” and eventually “created an incredible portfolio, by the time of his passing, of rental apartments in Brooklyn and Queens.”

A state attorney jokingly objected that references to the 1800s were outside the statute of limitations — then more seriously objected to the history lesson’s relevance.

“I think it is relevant to get the historical perspective — I find it interesting,” Judge Engoron said in overruling the objection. “Let him go ahead and say how great the Trump Organization is.”

Trump Jr. obliged.

“My father learned a lot of the business from him, but had some flair and saw New York City and Manhattan as the ultimate frontier,” he said. Speaking of Trump Tower, he said, “I think it would have been one of the first, I think great, ultra-luxury real estate emerging in Manhattan.”

Nov 13, 10:20 AM EST
Donald Trump Jr. takes the stand for the defense

“Would you like to call your first witness, defense?” Judge Arthur Engoron asked to begin court this morning.

“The defense calls Donald Trump Jr. to the stand,” defense attorney Clifford Robert responded.

Like his last time on the witness stand when he was called by state attorneys, Trump Jr. appears comfortable on the stand, punctuating his testimony with lighthearted remarks.

Robert began his direct examination with some questions about Trump Jr. ‘s biography, starting with his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania.

“Was a bartender for about 18 months,” Trump Jr. said about his first job out of college.

“Did you enjoy that?” Robert asked.

“I did,” said Trump Jr., joking that he had a challenging conversation with his father when he began that job.

Nov 13, 9:45 AM EST
Trump Jr., arriving in court, met with chants of ‘crime family’

Donald Trump Jr. and his defense lawyers arrived at the New York State Supreme Courthouse this morning to be met with a small crowd of protestors chanting “crime family.”

Trump Jr. did not make a statement before entering the courthouse, but offered a brief response to a question about his expected testimony.

Asked what he plans on saying today on the stand, he replied, “We’ll see what I’m asked.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James arrived at court shortly after Trump Jr. and took a seat in the courtroom with her staff.

Nov 13, 9:06 AM EST
Donald Trump Jr. attends UFC event ahead of testimony

Donald Trump Jr. took in some ultimate fighting ahead of his scheduled return to the witness stand this morning.

Trump Jr. attended a UFC doubleheader at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night with his father, in addition to Tucker Carlson, Kid Rock, and UFC president Dana White.

“I legitimately can’t think of a better squad to roll with,” Trump Jr. posted on social media.

Earlier that day while speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump appeared to joke about appointing White to a position in a potential future administration.

“He’s a guy I’d like to make my Defense Chief. I wouldn’t call him my defense chief. I’d call him my ‘Offense Chief.’ He’d be my Offense Chief,” Trump said.

Nov 13, 8:32 AM EST
Defense to begin presenting its case

As Trump’s legal team prepares to begin presenting its case this morning, defense attorney Alina Habba says responsibility for the financial statements that the New York attorney general says are fraudulent lies with Trump’s external accounting firm.

Previewing the defense’s case during an appearance on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, Habba also said the banks that loaned money to the Trump Organization were responsible for conducting their own due diligence regarding Trump’s financial statements.

The state rested its case last week in the sixth week of the trial. The defense has said they expect their case to wrap up by Dec. 15.

Habba also suggested that Donald Trump plans to file a motion seeking a mistrial.

While Habba declined to comment on alleged misconduct by Judge Arthur Engoron’s clerk — which she is prohibited from doing due to the limited gag order handed down by the judge — she said the issue would be addressed in their mistrial motion “very soon.”

“I actually can’t tell you why, because I am gagged. I can tell you that we will be filing papers to address all of those issues,” Habba said.

However, Habba downplayed the chance the motion would be favorably decided Engoron.

“The problem we have is the judge is the one who is going to make those decisions, and he has proven himself to be quite motivated by the other side,” Habba said.

Nov 11, 1:51 PM EST
Court administrator responds to Stefanik’s complaint

In response to Rep. Elise Stefanik’s letter of complaint against Judge Engoron that she filed Friday with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a spokesperson for New York State Office of Court Administration has issued a statement.

“Judge Engoron’s actions and rulings in this matter are all part of the public record and speak for themselves,” said Office of Court Administration communications director Al Baker. “It is inappropriate to comment further.”

Nov 10, 8:17 PM EST
Rep. Stefanik files complaint against Judge Engoron

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York has filed a judicial complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron.

The letter, addressed to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, largely concerns the judge’s rulings in the case and his public statements, and is unlikely to impact the proceedings of the trial.

“Judge Engoron’s bizarre and biased behavior is making New York’s judicial system a laughingstock,” Stefanik, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote.

The lengthy letter echoes some of Trump’s attacks on the trial, criticizing Engoron’s limited gag order in the case, the actions of his legal clerk, his summary judgment ruling, and his comments during Trump’s testimony this week.

“Simply put, Judge Engoron has displayed a clear judicial bias against the defendant throughout the case, breaking several rules in the New York Code of Judicial Conduct,” Stefanik wrote.

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