Trump fraud trial live updates: Trump Organization execs to return to witness stand

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(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 27, 9:26 AM EST
Trump Organization execs to return to witness stand

Two current Trump Organization executives are scheduled to return to the witness stand today as part of the defense’s case as the trial resumes following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mark Hawthorn, Trump Hotels’ chief financial officer, initially testified for the state’s case in October. State attorney Andrew Amer used his testimony as an opportunity to highlight that the Trump Organization had a qualified accountant who could have worked on Trump’s statement of financial condition, instead of the top executives who had less accounting experience.

“If any of them had asked you to work with them on preparing Mr. Trump’s statement of financial condition, would you have had the knowledge and experience to do so?” Amer asked.

“Yes,” Hawthorn responded, adding he was never asked to assist with preparing the statements that are at the center of the attorney general’s case.

Patrick Birney, an assistant vice president at the Trump Organization who also testified in October, offered some of the only testimony that supports the attorney general’s allegation of a conspiracy to inflate Trump’s net worth.

“Did Allen Weisselberg ever tell you that Mr. Trump wanted his net worth on the statement of financial condition to go up?” state attorney Eric Haren asked Birney.

“Yes, I think that happened in Allen Weisselberg’s office,” Birney said, prompting an objection from Trump’s lawyers.

Nov 22, 5:28 PM EST
Judge, clerk subjected to daily threats, official says in gag order filing

An attorney for Judge Arthur Engoron also filed in support of the gag order in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, arguing that violent threats have increased since the gag order was lifted.

The limited gag order, which prohibited Donald Trump and his attorneys from publicly commenting about Engoron’s staff, was issued by the judge last month after Trump posted about the judge’s law clerk on social media. Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s First Department stayed the order on Thursday, citing constitutional concerns over Trump’s free speech rights.

Engoron’s filing includes a report from Charles Hollon of the Judicial Threats Assessment Unit of the New York State Court System’s Department of Public Safety. According to the report, Engoron and his principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, have been inundated with credible, violent and antisemitic threats since Trump began criticizing Greenfield.

“The threats against Justice Engoron and Ms. Greenfield are considered to be serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative,” Hollon wrote in the report.

Greenfield has been the victim of daily doxing of her personal email address and phone number, receiving dozens of calls, emails and social media messages daily, according to Hollon. Approximately half the harassing messages have been antisemitic, according to Greenfield.

In the report, Hollon wrote that Engoron was the subject of credible threats before the trial had started, but Trump’s Oct. 3 Truth Social post directed at Greenfield exponentially increased the number of threats directed at her.

The report included multiple examples of voicemails that were left on the telephone in Engoron’s chambers.

Hollon said the messages have created an “ongoing security risk” for Engoron, his staff and family, but that the gag order had been effective in lowering the number of threats.

“The implementation of the limited gag orders resulted in a decrease in the number of threats, harassment and disparaging messages that the judge and his staff received,” Hollon said in the report. “However, when Mr. Trump violated the gag orders, the number of threatening, harassing and disparaging messages increased.”

Engoron’s lawyer, Lisa Evans, said the threats detailed in Hollon’s affirmation justify the gag order, which functions as a reasonable limit on free speech.

“The First Amendment does not prohibit courts from limiting speech that threatens the safety of the court’s staff,” Evans wrote.

Trump’s reply to the filing is due on Nov. 27, after which the First Department will decide whether to fully lift the gag order.

Nov 22, 4:53 PM EST
NY AG argues for limited gag order in court filing

A lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia James, in a court filing Wednesday, argued in favor of maintaining the judge’s limited gag after an appeals court temporarily lifted the order last week.

The limited gag order, which prohibited Donald Trump and his attorneys from publicly commenting about Judge Arthur Engoron’s staff, was issued by the judge last month after Trump posted about the judge’s law clerk on social media. Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s First Department stayed the order on Thursday, citing constitutional concerns over Trump’s free speech rights.

James’ court filing Wednesday alleges that Trump and his lawyers continue to harass Engoron’s law clerk “as part of an improper tactic to disrupt trial and undermine the proceedings.”

James said the gag order is a necessary and “exceedingly limited restraint” to protect Engoron’s staff, and Trump’s lawyers failed to prove that attacks on judicial staff during a trial are protected by the First Amendment.

“A speedy denial is necessary to ensure the safety of [the] Supreme Court’s staff and the integrity and the orderly administration of the proceedings through the end of the trial,” James wrote, describing Trump’s attacks as “extraordinary and dangerous.”

Arguing that Trump has engaged in a “pattern” of attacking civil servants involved in proceedings against him, James cited his attacks on the former lieutenant governor of Georgia, as well as officials in his federal election interference case. She also mentioned Trump’s renewed attacks against the clerk over the last week since the gag order was lifted, including calling for her prosecution, sharing an article suggesting she engaged in drug use, and describing her as “crooked and highly partisan.”

Trump’s lawyers have defended such attacks as constitutionally protected speech and argued that Engoron failed to articulate how the attacks present a “clear and present danger” to the clerk.

Trump personally sued Engoron last week using a provision of state law called Article 78, which is generally used to challenge New York government agencies. Trump unsuccessfully attempted to use an Article 78 proceeding on the eve of the trial to delay the proceeding; however, his most recent attempt successfully resulted in a temporary stay of the gag order.

Trump’s reply to the filing is due on Nov. 27, after which the First Department will decide whether to fully lift the gag order.

Nov 21, 3:27 PM EST
Court adjourns for extended Thanksgiving break

After two days of testimony for the defense, former Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney stepped off the witness stand.

Judge Arthur Engoron then adjourned court until Monday.

When court resumes after the Thanksgiving break, the defense plans to call two Trump Organization executives, followed by several Deutsche Bank employees.

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