OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:32 PM – Monday, October 2, 2023
The $250 million civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump, his corporation, and two of his children was set to begin on Monday.
The lawsuit could have significant ramifications for the former president’s enterprises.
Kevin Wallace at the AG’s office said in his opening statement before the Manhattan court that Trump and employees of his firm had committed “persistent illegal acts,” including excessively inflated financial statements with values “determined by Donald Trump.”
Wallace maintained that Trump overstated his financial position by between $812 million and $2.2 billion, was aware that it was overstated, and exploited this to his advantage to acquire perks such as loans at rates to which he was not entitled.
Wallace claimed that Trump attempted to blame Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, for the financial certifications at his deposition in the lawsuit, but that “he was lying.”
Trump, whose attendance was not required at the trial, still attended and sat with his arms crossed for the majority of Wallace’s testimony before Judge Arthur Engoron.
Trump’s business acumen was highlighted in the trial as the attorney general’s office tried its hardest to depict the former president as an image-obsessed charlatan who purposely exaggerated his accomplishments.
Christopher Kise, Trump’s attorney, said in his opening statement that the evidence will demonstrate that Trump’s company “made many billions of dollars being right about real estate investments” and that he was “building one of the most successful real estate empires in the world” as well as “one of the most successful brands.”
He explained to the judge that assessments are arbitrary and made the point that none of the loans to Trump were ever repaid in full.
“There was no fraud,” Kise asserted. “President Trump did not make any false statements.”
The no-jury trial in Manhattan is scheduled to run for around three months and end on December 22nd.
Judge Engoron will decide the ruling.
Alina Habba, a Trump attorney who has had disagreements with the judge in the past, followed Kise.
Habba stated that James’ inquiry was politically motivated, labeled former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, one of the AG’s witnesses, as a “liar,” and said that James was undervaluing Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s club in Florida, which she maintained is “worth at least a billion dollars.”
However, according to the AG’s office, its worth is closer to $75 million.
At 10 a.m., Trump entered the courthouse for the trial and spoke to reporters waiting outside. Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, came under fire from him and was accused of bringing forth the lawsuit in order to harm him politically.
“They’re trying to damage me so I don’t do as well as I’m doing,” said Trump, who is currently the leading frontrunner for the Republican presidential bid.
The judge only recently took a partial stance in favor of James’ office, concluding that Trump had engaged in continuous fraud for years, including deceiving banks and insurers by alternately overvaluing and undervaluing his assets and vastly misrepresenting his net worth.
The decision, which enabled the trial to begin this week, will also affect Trump’s numerous limited liability businesses, or LLCs. A dissolution procedure was launched by the judge’s decision for organizations like Trump Organization, LLC, which has contributed to the growth of the Trump brand throughout the years.
A 35-page ruling was made public last week by Engoron.
Trump labeled him as a “Trump Hating Judge who is unfair, unhinged, and vicious in his PURSUIT of me” in a post on Truth Social. A wave of Trump followers also commented on the post in agreement.
“Everything was perfect. There was no crime. The crime is against me,” Trump continued.
Among the 28 witnesses the AG’s office expects to summon are Donald Trump, three of his children, Don Jr. and Eric, who all hold high executive positions inside the Trump Organization, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump.
Along with Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, Allen Weisselberg, the organization’s former chief financial officer, will also be called to the witness stand.
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