Trump fraud trial live updates: Trump Organization controller to resume testimony

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

Trump, his sons Eric and Don Jr., and 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 while lowering his tax burden. 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:

Oct 06, 8:53 AM EDT
Trump Organization controller to resume testimony

Former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, a defendant in the case, is scheduled to return to the witness stand this morning for a half-day session of court.

Prosecutors are expected to continue to probe the Trump Organization’s internal procedures that resulted in the inflated values on Trump’s financial statements, including how the former president’s own Trump Tower penthouse grew in listed value from $80 million in 2011 to $327 million in 2016.

Judge Arthur Engoron already ruled last week that Trump overvalued the apartment by over $200 million based on the “false and misleading” claim that the residence was 30,000 square feet, rather than its actual size of 10,996 square feet.

When McConney asked Kathy Kaye, a Trump International Realty executive, for assistance valuing the residence in 2013, Kaye cited the penthouse’s ties to “celebrity” and its uniqueness as partial reasons to add $20 million to the apartment’s listed value, according to an email that was entered into evidence.

“I don’t see how one would list below 8K per sq foot at this point, which brings us to 240,000M … 200,000M is a safe estimate,” Kaye wrote in the email.

McConney also appeared to struggled to explain why he used asking prices, rather than the accepted practice of using sale prices, when valuing the penthouse.

The exchange prompted New York AG special counsel Andrew Amer to confront McConney with his testimony during a previous investigative interview, in which McConney said asking prices were a poor measure of value since “you can ask anything you want to.”

Oct 05, 6:11 PM EDT
Trump Organization controller grilled about assets

Testifying about his responsibilities as the Trump Organization’s longtime controller, co-defendant Jeffrey McConney was grilled on the stand by special counsel Andrew Amer of the New York attorney general’s office.

Amer pressed McConney about alleged issues with Trump’s financial documents.

Asked about why he listed assets from Vornado Trust — which Trump did not control — as being under Trump’s control, McConney suggested it came down to accounting convenience.

“We couldn’t keep adding columns for every bank or brokerage account,” McConney said, later adding that the money was held in a Capital One account like the other assets, even if Trump could not access that account.

McConney testified that the individuals who accessed the spreadsheet would understand who controlled that money.

“People can make assumptions in any way they want to. The users looking at this spreadsheet would know it’s not one bank account,” McConney said.

McConney appeared to struggle to answer questions about the value of Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower, which, according to the Trump Organization, ballooned in value from $80 million in 2011 to $327 million in 2016.

The controller testified that he relied on data from the StreetEasy website, adopted cost-per-square-foot estimates from newer properties, and took other Trump Organization executives’ claims about the apartment at face value.

McConney is scheduled to continue his testimony tomorrow as the day’s only witness.

Oct 05, 3:35 PM EDT
Defense plans to request a halt to the proceedings

Donald Trump’s legal team plans to request a stay of the ongoing fraud trial, pending their appeal of Judge Engoron’s partial summary judgment ruling issued last week, defense lawyer Chris Kise notified Engoron in court.

In seeking to halt the trial, the defense team said they plan to file their request tomorrow morning and wanted to provide notice to the state.

State prosecutors objected that less than 24 hours’ notice is not enough.

“That’s clearly not sufficient,” Engoron said of the notice, adding that the appellate court could deny the request due to the lack of proper notice.

Oct 05, 2:53 PM EDT
Note on financial document suggests Trump had final say

A marked-up version of the Trump Organization’s 2014 statement of financial condition suggests that Trump himself issued final approval for the statements, according to the document, which was entered into evidence today.

The document included a handwritten note from longtime Trump Organization Controller Jeffrey McConney saying “DJT TO GET FINAL REVIEW.”

The document also included a list showing the 2013 value of Trump’s properties, which McConney had crossed out to adjust to the 2014 values.

Testifying on the stand, McConney — who joined the Trump Organization in 1987 and was responsible for Trump’s financial statements between 2011 and 2017 — testified that he worked in conjunction with accounting firm Mazars USA and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg to issue the statements.

While McConney acknowledged that he wrote the note on the document, he could not provide specifics about the extent of Trump’s involvement.

Oct 05, 2:15 PM EDT
Judge outlines next steps for dissolving Trump’s companies

As the questioning of witnesses continues, Judge Engoron has issued an order outlining the next steps to dissolve Trump’s companies in New York.

Engoron last week found that Trump and his adult sons used fraudulent documents to conduct business, and ordered the cancellation of his business certificates in the state. Trump appealed that ruling yesterday.

In today’s order, Engoron asks the defendants to provide a list of “entities controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump” — and the other co-defendants — to the Hon. Barbara S. Jones, the independent monitor overseeing Trump’s business activities.

Trump is also required to notify Jones of any new business applications or changes to preexisting entities.

The order also gives the parties 30 days to recommend a receiver to oversee the dissolution of Trump’s corporate assets. However both parties previously suggested that they plan to recommend Jones for that position.

In the meantime, the ongoing trial is being held to determine what additional penalties Trump might face and what might happen with the multiple causes of action included in the attorney general’s lawsuit.

Oct 05, 12:55 PM EDT
Trump firm didn’t prepare financial statements, controller says

Longtime Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, a defendant in the case, has taken the stand.

McConney testified that he was responsible for Trump’s statement of financial condition from 2011 until 2017, when the responsibility was passed on to another employee.

But McConney was quick to differentiate his role from that of the organization’s accounting firm, Mazar’s USA.

“We as the Trump Organization didn’t prepare the statement,” McConney said.

Unlike most witnesses who generally aren’t allowed to hear other witnesses testify, McConney — as a defendant in the case — is entitled to be in the courtroom for the entire trial. However, today is the first time he has appeared.

Oct 05, 12:30 PM EDT
Defense presses ex-accountant on asset appraisals

Pressing Mazars USA accountant Donald Bender on how often he asked the Trump Organization for appraisals of the former president’s assets during the years he worked on Trump’s account, defense lawyers attempted to portray Bender as neglecting to do his job compiling Trump’s financial reports.

“I didn’t know that the Trump Organization had any access to appraisals they did not give me,” Bender testified.

The longtime Trump accountant struggled to articulate how often he made requests for appraisals, and defense counsel Clifford Robert drilled into the fact that those requests appear to never have been made in writing to Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney.

“You don’t really know what you asked Jeff McConney,” Robert told Bender.

Bender was also asked about Trump’s three adult children, who all previously served as executives in the Trump Organization, and whether they were involved with Trump’s statement of financial condition.

The accountant said that — apart from a brief conversation he once had with Eric Trump — Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump were not involved in issuing Trump’s financial statements.

On redirect examination, prosecutors briefly asked questions of Bender suggesting that the defense’s questions had been based on an outdated accounting standard.

That concluded Bender’s testimony.

Oct 05, 10:39 AM EDT
Judge says he’ll cap questioning at an hour and a half

Trump attorney Jesus Suarez, in his cross-examination of longtime Trump accountant Donald Bender, is attempting to ask Bender about each year’s compilation of Trump’s statement of financial condition.

In response, facing the possibility of hours of repetitive questions, Judge Engoron said he would limit Suarez to an hour and a half of cross-examination.

Defense lawyer Clifford Robert is also expected to question Bender.

Oct 05, 10:27 AM EDT
Cross-examination of ex-accountant resumes

The defense’s cross-examination of longtime Trump accountant Donald Bender has resumed.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is attending court today, but Eric Trump of the Trump Organization is absent from the gallery.

When Donald Trump attended over the first three days of the trial, the gallery was packed — but without him in attendance, it’s now roughly half full.

Oct 05, 10:04 AM EDT
Without Trump in attendance, trial resumes for Day 4

The trial resumes this morning for its first full day of action without the presence of former President Trump, who returned to Florida yesterday after attending the trial’s first three days.

With 26 witnesses yet to testify for the state, today is likely to provide an indication of the trial’s duration, which Judge Engoron scheduled to take three months.

Longtime Trump accountant Donald Bender of Mazars USA is back on the stand for more cross-examination from defense lawyer Jesus Suarez, who has been walking Bender though years of financial statements in an attempt to paint him as asleep of the wheel while handling Trump’s accounting.

If Bender gets off the stand today, the state will next call longtime Trump Organization comptroller Jeffrey McConney, who is a defendant in the case itself.

Oct 04, 5:35 PM EDT
Defense presses ex-accountant on evaluation of assets

Attorneys for the defense team declined to cross-examine Cameron Harris after the former Trump accountant completed his testimony. However they reserved the right to call him back to the stand later.

Instead, they spent the last hour of court Wednesday continuing their cross-examination of former Mazars USA accountant Donald Bender, who handled Trump’s account prior to Harris.

After the defense highlighted Bender’s inconsistent statements about Mazars’ use of specialists to evaluate assets, Bender seemed to struggle to articulate how Mazars provided accounting expertise.

Defense attorney Jesus Suarez told Judge Engoron that he plans to continue his cross-examination of Bender through Thursday afternoon, though the defense promised to “streamline” their questions after the judge complained about the timing.

Court was then adjourned for the day.

Oct 04, 3:49 PM EDT
2nd accountant says Trumps were responsible for statements

Cameron Harris, an accountant from the firm Whitley Penn, has taken the stand as the trial’s second witness following hours of testimony from former Trump accountant Donald Bender of Mazars USA, whose cross-examination will continue later.

Whitley Penn succeeded Mazars as Trump’s accounting firm.

Harris testified that Trump’s son Eric Trump “set the tone at the top” of the Trump Organization.

Like Bender, Harris testified that the Trumps had the ultimate responsibility for their financial statements.

“Who’s responsible for the statement of financial condition?” asked state attorney Kevin Wallace as Eric Trump sat in the courtroom.

“The client’s responsible for that,” Harris replied.

The proceedings appear to have taken a more workmanlike tone since Trump left the courtroom to return to Florida. The defense has not logged a single objection after earlier objecting so often that it drew the judge’s ire.

Oct 04, 2:51 PM EDT
‘Trump show is over’ says AG James after he departs

With former President Trump heading back to Florida after attending three days of the trial, New York Attorney General Letitia James told reporters that “the Donald Trump show is over.”

Speaking to the media on her way into court following a break, James denounced Trump’s rhetoric about the case, as well as his social media post about the judge’s clerk.

“Mr. Trump’s comments were offensive, they were baseless, they were void of any facts,” James said.

Trump, who called James “corrupt” during his various appearances outside the courtroom, also denounced the case she brought as “rigged” and said it was timed to upend his campaign for the presidency.

“This case was brought simply because it was a case where individuals were engaged in a pattern and practice of fraud,” James said. “I will not be bullied.”

“Mr. Trump is no longer here — the Donald Trump show is over,” said James. “This was nothing more than a political stunt, a fundraising stop.”

Oct 04, 2:30 PM EDT
Trump appeals judge’s pretrail ruling that he committed fraud

Three days into their fraud trial, Trump and his co-defendants have appealed the pretrial ruling last week by Judge Engoron that Trump and his adult sons committed fraud in their business dealings.

Engoron made the determination last Tuesday but said the trial was still required to decide the scope of the penalty plus six remaining causes of action alleged by the New York attorney general.

Trump’s appeal asks the court to consider whether Engoron “committed errors of law and/or fact, abused its discretion, and/or acted in excess of its jurisdiction” when he ruled that Trump committed fraud and canceled his business certificates in New York state.

Trump’s last attempt in this case to appeal to a higher court was denied by the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court on the eve of the trial.

Oct 04, 1:59 PM EDT
Trump, departing trial, says ‘this is corrupt’

Former President Trump appears to be done watching his civil fraud trial, and he had a lot to say about it on his way out of the courthouse.

Speaking to reporters, Trump renewed his attacks on Judge Engoron and accused the “whole system” of being rigged against him while referencing the criminal charges he faces in Washington, D.C., and Fulton County, Georgia.

“Our whole system is corrupt. This is corrupt. Atlanta is corrupt, and what’s coming out of DC is corrupt,” Trump said.

Trump again claimed that his net worth is more than is represented in his financial documents, and said that his Mar-a-Lago estate is worth “50 to 100 times more” than what Engoron determined.

Trump also resumed attacks on the judge — who he said is “run by the Democrats” — and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who he alleged is communicating with the Department of Justice to “keep me nice and busy.”

The former president said he’s been “stuck” in court when he would rather be campaigning in early primary states.

Asked by ABC News why he attended the trial despite no obligation to do so, he claimed his attendance was necessary to expose corruption to the press.

“Why attend? Because they want to point it out to the press how corrupt it is, because nobody else seems to be able to do it,” Trump said.

Trump departed the courthouse and is not expected to return to court for the afternoon session.

Oct 04, 1:00 PM EDT
‘This is ridiculous,’ judge admonishes defense counsel

Judge Engoron lost patience with Trump’s defense counsel during the cross-examination of longtime Trump accountant Donald Bender.

As defense attorney Jesus Suarez repeatedly asked Bender to recall how he arrived at specific values for specific assets in specific years, Engoron interrupted to ask how much longer the cross-examination would last.

Suarez said he would do his best to finish by the end of court today.

That prompted Kevin Wallace with the state attorney general’s office to shout, incredulously, “Today?” Wallace accused Suarez of being overly performative with Trump seated at the defense table.

When Engoron reminded the defense, “Mr. Bender is not on trial here,” Trump attorney Chris Kise interjected, “I would very much disagree with that.”

The judge implored the defense to truncate the line of questioning.

“You’re not allowed to waste time,” Engoron said.

“This is insane,” responded Trump attorney Alina Habba “He has not answered one question.”

Engoron pounded the bench, asking reporters in the room to take note. “This is ridiculous,” he barked.

Oct 04, 12:34 PM EDT
Trump back in courtroom

Nearly 30 minutes after court resumed following a break, Trump entered the courtroom and returned to his seat at the counsel table.

The defense’s cross examination of Mazars USA accountant Donald Bender continued after a brief interruption.

Oct 04, 12:07 PM EDT
Trump not in courtroom following break

Court has resumed following a break, but Trump is notably absent from the courtroom. His paperwork remains at the counsel table, and his lawyers have left his seat empty.

Eric Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James returned to the courtroom after the break, along with the lawyers for both sides.

Former Trump accountant Donald Bender is back on the stand for his cross-examination.

Oct 04, 11:48 AM EDT
‘Tell me what the point is,’ judge tells Trump attorney

Trump attorney Jesus Suarez is continuing his attempts to discredit former Trump accountant Donald Bender’s testimony, but his arguments seem to be wearing thin for the judge.

After Suarez played a short clip from Bender’s deposition, Judge Engoron — who is deciding the case himself — told the attorney, “There’s no jury. Tell me what the point is.”

During another portion of the cross-examination, Engoron told Suarez, “It’s starting to sound like ‘How many angels can dance on the head of a pin."”

Oct 04, 11:10 AM EDT
Cross-examination of ex-accountant continues

Continuing his cross-examination of Mazars USA accountant Donald Bender, who formerly worked on Trump’s account, Trump attorney Jesus Suarez is adopting a less aggressive approach to his questioning than the theatrical approach he took yesterday.

When Justice Engoron appeared unreceptive to one part of Suarez’s questioning, Trump, sitting with his attorneys, visibility groaned.

“It’s easiest just to move on. Take a hint,” Engoron said to Suarez about one of his attempts to discredit Bender.

Trump has been conferring with his attorney Alina Habba, taking notes, reviewing documents, and even ripping up papers while seated at the counsel table during the cross-examination of Bender.

Oct 04, 10:30 AM EDT
Trump says his net worth is ‘much higher’ than statements say

Former President Trump, on his way into court for Day Three of his trial, said that his financial statements under-report his wealth, despite the judge in his case already ruling that his financial records were fraudulently inflated.

“My real net worth is much higher than that, much higher than the statement,” Trump told reporters.

Decrying his trial as the “beginning of communism in our country,” Trump continued his attacks on New York Attorney General Letitia James but did not comment on Judge Arthur Engoron.

“This is just a continuation of the witch hunt that started the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower,” Trump said.

Oct 04, 10:03 AM EDT
Trump back in court for Day Three

Former President Trump is back in court for Day Three of the trial, where defense counsel is expected to continue its cross examination of longtime Mazars accountant Donald Bender.

Once questioning of Bender concludes, the state says they plan to call Whitley Penn audit partner Camron Harris, who took over Trump’s accounting after Mazars.

Justice Arthur Engoron may also address the narrow gag order he placed on Trump and the other defendants yesterday regarding making statements about the judge’s staff, after the former president made what Engoron described as a “disparaging, untrue, and personally identifying post” involving Engoron’s clerk.

Oct 03, 5:46 PM EDT
Trump, following closed proceedings, says he’ll be back Wednesday

Former President Trump told reporters he plans to return to court on Wednesday as he left the courtroom following a closed proceeding Tuesday afternoon.

Judge Arthur Engoron held multiple closed proceedings during the afternoon after issuing a warning to Trump to not post anything to social media about his staff.

Neither Trump nor New York Attorney General Letitia James answered questions about the nature of the closed sessions when they left the courthouse at the end of the day.

Earlier, Mazars accountant Donald Bender underwent a forceful cross examination by Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez. Mixing criticism of Bender with praise of Trump — who Suarez described as “the leader of the free world” and “possibly even the 47th president of the United States” — Suarez attempted to paint Blender as an incompetent accountant who “messed up” and landed Trump in court.

As part of his cross examination, Suarez questioned Bender about why he failed to raise concerns about Trump inaccurately overstating the size of his triplex apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

“Do you think two thirds of his [triplex] disappearing is not something you should have said to the leader of the free world?” Suarez asked during a portion of his questioning that was so theatrical that it prompted occasional laughter in the courtroom.

Oct 03, 3:27 PM EDT
Judge admonishes Trump after he posts about clerk

As court resumed after the lunch break, Judge Engoron admonished Donald Trump for a post he made this afternoon on his Truth Social platform regarding Engoron’s clerk, Alison Greenfield.

The post, which included a photo of Greenfield with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, made unsubstantiated claims about her connections with Schumer and falsely claimed that Greenfield is “running” the case against Trump.

Trump apparently made the post, which linked to Greenfield’s Instagram account, while the former president was sitting in the courtroom.

“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable and inappropriate,” the judge said in his admonishment, adding that he ordered the post taken down.

Trump appears to have deleted the post, but the judge lamented that the sentiment was shared to millions.

The judge did not mention Trump by name but noted the post came from one of the defendants. He said his remarks should be taken as forbidding all parties from posting or speaking publicly about any member of his staff.

Greenfield sits at the bench to Engoron’s immediate right and he is often seen conferring with her over legal and logistical matters.

-ABC News’ Peter Charalambous, Aaron Katersky, Soo Rin Kim, Lalee Ibssa and Kendall Ross

Oct 03, 2:37 PM EDT
Trump says he’s attending trial to ‘expose’ AG

Former President Donald Trump said he is attending his civil trial to “expose” New York Attorney General Letitia James, during an exchange with ABC News.

Asked by ABC News’ Aaron Katersky why he was attending the trial even though he’s not required to be there, Trump replied, “Because this trial is a rigged trial. It’s a fraudulent trial.”

“The attorney general is a fraud, and we have to expose her as that,” Trump said after exiting the courtroom for the afternoon break. “You see what’s going on. It’s a rigged deal.”

James has said of her probe, “No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law.”

The statements from Trump follow the conclusion of the state’s lengthy direct examination of longtime Mazars accountant Donald Bender, who testified about the procedures Mazars and the Trump Organization used to compile a central piece of evidence in the case — Trump’s statements of financial condition between 2011 and 2020.

Trump appeared attentive during the testimony, often studying the exhibits displayed on the court’s screens — including a recurring spreadsheet titled “Jeff Supporting Data” prepared by co-defendant and Trump Organization executive Jeffrey McConney, which contained the source information for the financial statements.

Bender testified about a specific red notation spelled “PBC” that appeared on the Excel file across multiple years. The notation — indicating that the files were “Prepared By [the] Client” — seemed to emphasize how much of the accounting was done by the Trump Organization rather than Mazars.

Testifying about letters of representation issued by the Trump Organization in support of the statements, Bender addressed specific language in the letter stating that the Trump Organization had included all the relevant records and data needed for the statements.

“We have not knowingly withheld from you any financial records or related data that in our judgment would be relevant to your compilation,” the letter read.

But Bender testified that he later learned that meaningful information was indeed omitted — information he said he learned in 2021 during meetings with prosecutors.

When asked repeatedly if Mazars would have issued the statements if they knew the Trump Organization had withheld information, Bender repeated that Mazars would not have issued the statements.

-ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Jack Feeley and Peter Charalambous

Oct 03, 12:49 PM EDT
Judge mixes focus, humor on the bench

Justice Arthur Engoron appears to be enjoying his time overseeing the trial today, including correcting the attorneys for the state on minor issues.

“The correct word is withdrawn, not strike,” Engoron interjected at one point, after a state attorney attempted to “strike” the record so he could rephrase a statement.

Later, Engoron smiled and signaled a thumbs-up when the same attorney adjusted his language and “withdrew” his words from the record to rephrase.

The veteran justice, who has served on the bench in New York for more than 20 years, has a reputation as a reliable albeit unusual judge, according to past and former associates.

Oct 03, 12:19 PM EDT
Trump calls case a ‘scam,’ says he might testify

Exiting court during the break, Trump told reporters positioned nearby that the financial statements being reviewed in court included disclaimers, which his legal team has argued absolves him of wrongdoing.

“This case is a scam,” Trump said during his walk back to court.

When asked if he would consider testifying, Trump said he might.

Oct 03, 12:14 PM EDT
Ex-accountant addresses 2012-2016 financial statements

An attorney with for the New York attorney general’s office spent the first hour of direct examination methodically walking Mazars accountant Donald Bender through the Trump Organization’s financial documents from 2012 through 2016.

As he addressed each document, Bender reiterated that the Trump Organization and its trustees were responsible for the accounting principles used in the records, the disclosures in reports, and the information from which the reports were based.

The state appears to be using Bender’s testimony to not only get Trump’s financials statements into evidence, but also to demonstrate the relatively consistent process the Trump Organization used to compile and finalize their statements of financial condition over a decade.

Oct 03, 10:48 AM EDT
Judge clarifies statute of limitations remarks

Justice Arthur Engoron, who was a frequent target of Trump’s attacks yesterday, began the trial’s second day by clarifying some of his closing remarks about the statute of limitations in the case.

After court yesterday, Trump construed his remarks as a victory, suggesting “80% of the cases is over” after leaving court on Monday.

Engoron apologized for his comments and stated that any future real estate deals “restart” the statute of limitations — meaning that the attorney general’s office needs to “connect the dots” to include the evidence about a 2011 deal discussed on Monday.

“I understand that the defendants strongly disagree on this and will appeal on this ground,” Engoron said.

He concluded his remarks by reminding counsel not to relitigate issues already decided — something that Trump’s attorneys seemingly did on Day One of the trial.

“This trial is not an opportunity to relitigate what I have already decided … that is why we have appeals,” Engoron said.

Oct 03, 10:41 AM EDT
Trump again attacks AG on way into court

Former President Donald Trump continued his attacks on New York Attorney General Letitia James before entering the courtroom for the second day of his $250 million civil fraud trial in downtown Manhattan.

“She ran on the basis ‘I will get Trump’ without knowing anything about me,” he said to reporters outside court.

Both Trump and James are present this morning in court, where state attorneys are set to continue their direct examination of longtime Mazars accountant Donald Bender.

Oct 03, 7:14 AM EDT
Trump expected in court for second day

Former President Donald Trump signaled he will be in court again Tuesday morning in a post on his social media platform.

“See you in Court Tuesday morning,” Trump posted.

The former president then went on to attack New York Attorney General Letitia James. He claimed he had a “good day at trial” during Monday’s proceedings.

Oct 02, 6:15 PM EDT
First witness eyes Trump’s decade-old financial statements

Testifying about the preparation of the Trump Organization’s statements of financial condition in 2011, former Mazars USA accountant Donald Bender said Trump executives largely provided the input data for statements, in addition to dictating the standards by which the work was completed.

“We would cut and paste that information into a new worksheet,” Bender said about the approach taken by Mazar after receiving new data from co-defendant Jeffrey McConney of the Trump Organization.

When asked about the compliance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — which Bender testified are the standards for accounting in the United States — Bender repeatedly placed responsibility in the lap of the Trump organization.

“That was the Trump Organization’s responsibility,” Bender testified about GAAP compliance.

Bender acknowledged that he rarely questioned the inputs from the Trump Organization, and when he did, he largely dealt with McConney and executives other than Trump and his adult sons.

Repeatedly asked by the state attorney if Mazars would have issued the statements if they had known the Trump Organization included material misrepresentations in their data, Bender reiterated that Mazars would not have issued the statements.

When Judge Engoron remarked at the end of the trial day that the state would still need to present further evidence to prove that the 2011 statement was within the statute of limitations, Trump seized the statement as a partial victory.

“The last five minutes was outstanding, because the judge actually conceded that the statute of limitations … is in effect,” Trump told reporters as he was leaving court.

Engoron, however, did not completely rule out the 2011 evidence during trial, instead appearing to remind counsel that they need to show the 2011 statement represents an ongoing concern that falls within the statute of limitations.

Testimony is scheduled to resume on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.

Oct 02, 3:50 PM EDT
Ex-accountant says statements were ‘Trump Org’s responsibility’

Prosecutors have called their first witness to the stand: Donald Bender, a former accountant at Mazars USA, the firm that for years handled Trump’s taxes.

Bender testified at length about his involvement in compiling Trump’s statements of financial condition between 2011 and 2020, which he described as “balance [sheets] of Mr. Trump’s assets and liabilities.”

Bender said the standards and inputs for the statements were largely decided by Trump Organization executives.

“That was the Trump Organization’s responsibility,” Bender said about the accounting standard used in the statements.

As Bender answered the state’s questions, Trump was seen taking notes at the defense table.

Bender described spending roughly half his time on Trump’s business and personal financial matters toward the end of his career at Mazars.

The firm severed its business relationship with Trump last year after learning of the attorney general’s findings during the AG’s probe.

Oct 02, 1:19 PM EDT
Trump attorney says sons made no misrepresentations

An attorney for Donald Trump’s adult sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., added a brief opening statement of his own, defending his clients from accusations of wrongdoing.

“There was never a material misrepresentation made by Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr.,” said Clifford Robert, the attorney for Trump’s adult sons, who help run the Trump Organization.

Robert said he disagrees “with just about everything” the state’s prosecutor said in his opening remarks, and took aim at the state’s star witness.

“Their major linchpin is Michael Cohen, a guy who lies to everyone,” Robert said of the former Trump attorney.

Lucien Bruggeman

Oct 02, 1:10 PM EDT
AG’s case sets ‘dangerous precedent,’ defense says

Attorney General Letitia James “is setting a very dangerous precedent for any business in the state of New York,” warned Trump attorney Alina Habba in her opening statement.

Habba told the court she hadn’t planned to make opening remarks, but that she felt moved to speak after hearing the state present its own opening statement. Habba accused the attorney general of targeting Trump before taking office, claiming the investigation and lawsuit were personal in nature.

“We are attacking a sitting president and two of his children and his employees for a statement of financial condition which is frankly worth less than what they are worth,” Habba said.

Habba reiterated many of the points made earlier by co-counsel Christopher Kise, highlighting the fact that “these lenders made money,” and arguing that “real estate is malleable — the values change.”

After Habba concluded her remarks, Judge Engeron engaged her in a series of follow-up questions, asking about her claim that the property appraisals at issue were “undervalued” by prosecutors.

Habba replied that “the Trump brand is worth something.”

Oct 02, 12:03 PM EDT
‘The attorney general has no case,’ defense counsel says

Former President Trump’s defense counsel will present a “very different picture of the evidence” than the prosecution alleges, and will demonstrate that “there are many ways to value assets,” according to opening remarks from Christopher Kise, Trump’s lead attorney.

“We think the evidence is going to establish … President Trump has made billions of dollars building one of the most successful real estate empires in the world,” Kise said, reiterating sentiments he conveyed in pretrial motions.

Kise offered a glimpse into the former president’s defense, including plans to present testimony from a New York University professor who will explain that “there is no one generally accepted procedure to determine the estimated current value” of a property.

Other defense witnesses, including four Deutsche Bank officers who were involved in approving Trump’s loans, will explain how they were able to craft their own independent risk analyses meant to mitigate the claims of fraud that are core to the state’s case.

“Anyone committing fraud does not tell the other side, ‘Please do your own analysis,"” Kise said regarding Trump’s instructions to lenders.

Kise also previewed plans to undermine the state’s key witness, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who Kise said has “lied to everyone and anyone he has come in contact with.”

Kise reiterated the defense’s claim that Trump did not commit fraud and that there were no victims of his alleged conduct.

“The attorney general has no case,” Kise said.

Oct 02, 11:28 AM EDT
Defendants were ‘lying year after year,’ prosecutors say

Prosecutors intend to prove in the coming months that “each defendant engaged in repeated, persistent, illegal acts in conduct of business,” according to the opening statement from Kevin Wallace of the attorney general’s office.

Referring to Judge Engoron’s partial summary judgment last week, Wallace said that “the people have already proven” that former President Trump used “false, misleading” statements that were “repeatedly [and] persistently used in the conduct of business.”

But prosecutors will further demonstrate that Trump and his co-defendants knew those statements were false and continued to peddle them anyway in furtherance of their alleged scheme, Wallace told the judge.

“The defendants were lying year after year,” he said.

Wallace played clips of video depositions to punctuate his remarks, including testimony from Trump himself, as well as Eric Trump and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen — whose congressional testimony years ago precipitated the state’s investigation and some of the key allegations underpinning their case.

“The goal was to use each of [Trump’s] assets and increase its value in order to get to the end result number,” Cohen said during his taped deposition. “It was essentially backing in numbers to each of the asset classes in order to attain the number that President Trump wanted.”

Trump and his co-defendants “knew that a high net worth was necessary to get and maintain certain financial benefits,” Wallace said, pointing to basic principles of accounting and finance.

Throughout Wallace’s remarks, the attorney general’s office flashed graphics on television screens inside the courtroom showing some of the alleged inflated values of Trump’s properties alongside the amounts the properties were appraised at.

Seated in his chair with his arms crossed, Trump visibly shook his head at times during the prosecutor’s opening statement. At one point he seemed to mutter something under his breath.

The former president whispered with his attorneys throughout.

Oct 02, 10:45 AM EDT
Opening statements underway

Opening statements are underway in former President Trump’s $250 million fraud trial.

Trump is seated between his attorneys Clifford Robert, Alina Habba and Christopher Kise.

Trump and his co-defendants face a bench trial, meaning that the sole arbiter of the case is Judge Arthur Engoron instead of a jury.

Oct 02, 10:19 AM EDT
Trump seated in courtroom

Former President Trump has taken a seat in the courtroom for the start of the trial.

“The crime is against me,” he told reporters outside the courtroom before he made his way inside.

He denounced the case in now-familiar terms, criticizing state Attorney General Letitia James as she sat inside the courtroom.

Trump also accused Judge Arthur Engoron of failing to account for the full value of his real estate portfolio, asserting his Mar-a-Lago estate is worth “50 to 100 times more” than the judge’s decision for partial summary judgment said last week.

“We have other properties, the same thing. So he devalued everything,” Trump said. “We have among the greatest properties in the world. and I have to go through this for political reasons.”

Engoron decided Trump’s statements of financial condition were fraudulent, but Trump said, “We have a clause in the contract that says, essentially, buyer beware.”

Oct 02, 10:09 AM EDT
Trump calls trial ‘political witch hunt’

Former President Trump, speaking to reporters on his arrival at the lower Manhattan courthouse, said the trial is a witch hunt resulting from his standing in the presidential polls.

“This is a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt of all time,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.

Trump said he is innocent of the accusations and that his portfolio has a much higher value than what the attorney general alleges.

Oct 02, 9:59 AM EDT
Trump attorneys call trial ‘election interference’

Members of Donald Trump’s legal team, speaking to reporters outside the courthouse prior to the start of the trial, called the fraud allegations against the former president “election interference.”

Trump’s attorneys said that Democrats were using the case to fight Trump’s efforts to retake the White House in 2024.

Oct 02, 9:43 AM EDT
Attorney general arrives at courthouse

New York Attorney General Letitia James has arrived at the courthouse in lower Manhattan.

“No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law,” James said to the cameras before entering the courthouse.

“Today we will prove our case in court,” she said. “Justice will prevail.”

Demonstrators across the street from the courthouse cheered and applauded as the AG arrived.

Oct 02, 8:19 AM EDT
NY attorney general releases statement on 1st day of trial

New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement on Monday just hours before the first day of trial in her fraud case against former President Donald Trump.

“For years, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth to enrich himself and cheat the system,” James said. “We won the foundation of our case last week and proved that his purported net worth has long been rooted in incredible fraud. In this country, there are consequences for this type of persistent fraud, and we look forward to demonstrating the full extent of his fraud and illegality during trial.”

“No matter how rich or powerful you are, there are not two sets of laws for people in this country,” she added. “The rule of law must apply equally to everyone, and it is my responsibility to make sure that it does.”

Oct 02, 8:14 AM EDT
Trial scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET

The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump, et al, is scheduled to get underway in lower Manhattan at 10 a.m. with opening statements.

If opening statements are completed before the end of the day, the New York attorney general plans to begin her case by calling Trump’s former Mazars USA accountant Donald Bender to the stand.

Mazars severed its business relationship with the former president last year after learning of the attorney general’s findings during the AG’s probe.

Oct 02, 7:10 AM EDT
Judge has already found that Trump overvalued his assets

Though Trump has denied all wrongdoing alleged by the attorney general, Judge Arthur Engoron has already decided the central allegation against Trump and his co-defendants, ruling in a pretrial hearing last week that the AG had provided “conclusive evidence” that Trump overvalued his assets between $812 million and $2.2 billion.

The judge then canceled the Trump Organization’s business certificates in New York, severely restricting Trump’s ability to conduct business in the state moving forward — a move that Trump attorney Alina Habba called “nonsensical” and “outrageously overreaching.”

“In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air,” Engoron wrote, citing multiple arguments made by defense to justify the allegedly inflated valuations of Trump’s assets. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”

Among the issues still to be determined at trial: What additional penalties Trump might face, and what might happen with the multiple causes of action included in the attorney general’s suit.

Oct 02, 6:43 AM EDT
Trump blasts judge ahead of trial

Former President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on the judge overseeing and deciding his case, writing on Truth Social overnight that Justice Arthur Engoron should resign and be sanctioned for “abuse of power.”

Similar to his earlier post, Trump focused on the alleged inflated value of Mar-a-Lago, in addition to an appellate decision that his lawyers unsuccessfully tried to use to limit the timeframe of the case.

Oct 02, 6:39 AM EDT
Trump says he will attend trial’s opening

Former President Trump posted on his Truth Social platform Sunday night that he intends to attend the opening of the trial.

“See you in court — Monday morning,” he wrote in a post.

Earlier Sunday, multiple sources familiar with the decision told ABC News that Trump was expecting to attend.

Trump will have no speaking role in court on Monday, but it is anticipated that he’ll return to the courthouse toward the end of the state’s case when court records show he will be called as a witness.

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