What to Know
- On Monday, a trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against former President Donald Trump seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York
- The Republican former president and a who’s who of people in his orbit — his two eldest sons, Trump Organization executives and former lawyer-turned-foe Michael Cohen are all listed among dozens of potential witnesses, but Trump isn’t expected to testify for several weeks
- Trump released a video statement before arriving at the courthouse vowing to fight and thanking supporters for their support and prayers. The trial could last into December, according to the judge in the case
With control over some of his most prized real estate holdings in jeopardy, former President Donald Trump said he’ll make a rare, voluntary trip to court in New York on Monday for the start of a civil trial in a lawsuit that already has resulted in a judge ruling that he committed fraud in his business dealings.
“I’m going to Court tomorrow morning to fight for my name and reputation,” Trump wrote Sunday night on his Truth Social platform.
Trump lashed out in his post at New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing him, and Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the non-jury trial and made the fraud ruling last week.
“THIS WHOLE CASE IS SHAM!!!” Trump wrote. “See you in Court — Monday morning.”
The trial is the culmination of a yearslong investigation by James, who accused Trump and his company of habitually lying about his wealth in financial statements.
Last week, Engoron resolved the lawsuit’s top claim before the trial even began, ruling that Trump routinely deceived banks, insurers and others by exaggerating the value of assets on paperwork used in making deals and securing loans.
Before the trial early Monday, James reiterated her position that Trump for years “falsely inflated his net worth to enrich himself and cheat the system.”
“We won the foundation of our case last week and proved that his purported net worth has long been rooted in incredible fraud,” James said in a statement, adding that she looked forward to “demonstrating the full extent of his fraud and illegality during trial.”
The Republican former president and a who’s who of people in his orbit — his two eldest sons, Trump Organization executives and former lawyer-turned-foe Michael Cohen are all listed among dozens of potential witnesses.
Trump isn’t expected to testify for several weeks. His trip to court Monday will mark a remarkable departure from his past practice.
Trump didn’t go to court as either a witness or a spectator when his company and one of its top executives was convicted of tax fraud last year. He didn’t show, either, for a trial earlier this year in which a jury found him liable for sexually assaulting the writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room.
In some ways, though, this new trial comes with higher stakes.
James, a Democrat, is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on doing business in New York.
Engoron’s ruling of last week, if upheld on appeal, would also shift control of some of his companies to a court-appointed receiver and could force him to give up prized New York properties such as Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses and a suburban estate.
Trump called it a “a corporate death penalty.”
“I have a Deranged, Trump Hating Judge, who RAILROADED this FAKE CASE through a NYS Court at a speed never before seen,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
In his post Sunday night, Trump wrote that Engoron is “unfair, unhinged, and vicious in his PURSUIT of me.”
Engoron will decide on six remaining claims in James’ lawsuit, including allegations of conspiracy, falsifying business records and insurance fraud.
James’ lawsuit accused Trump and his company of a long list of fibs in the financial statements he gave to banks. In a recent court filing, James’ office alleged Trump exaggerated his wealth by as much as $3.6 billion.
Among the allegations were that Trump claimed his Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan — a three-story penthouse replete with gold-plated fixtures — was nearly three times its actual size and worth an astounding $327 million. No apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount, James said.
Trump valued Mar-a-Lago as high as $739 million — more than 10 times a more reasonable estimate of its worth, James claimed. Trump’s figure for the Palm Beach, Florida, private club was based on the idea that the property could be developed for residential use. While Trump lives there, deed terms prohibit further residential development on the property, James said.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, arguing in sworn testimony for the case that it didn’t matter what he put on his financial statements because they have a disclaimer that says they shouldn’t be trusted.
Before he arrived at the courthouse in downtown Manhattan, Trump released a video statement to supporters.
“They come at me from left, they come at me from right. The RINOs, the communists, the Marxists, the fascists, we will not only survive, we will be stronger than ever before,” Trump said.
He and his lawyers have also argued that no one was harmed by anything in the financial statements. Banks he borrowed money from were fully repaid. Business partners made money. And Trump’s own company flourished.
“No matter how rich or powerful you are, there are not two sets of laws for people in this country,” James said ahead of the state of the trial. “The rule of law must apply equally to everyone, and it is my responsibility to make sure that it does.”
James’ lawsuit is one of several legal headaches for Trump as he campaigns for a return to the White House in next year’s election. He has been indicted four times since March, accused of plotting to overturn his 2020 election loss, hoarding classified documents and falsifying business records related to hush money paid on his behalf.
The trial could last into December, Engoron said.