Donald Trump will face off against New York Attorney General Letitia James starting Monday in a contentious civil trial that threatens his control over his real estate empire in the state.
The former president is accused of corrupting his relationship with banks and insurers for more than a decade by giving them financial statements that inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars a year, from Trump Tower in Manhattan to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. As penalties, James is seeking a quarter of a billion dollars and to bar Trump and his eldest sons from serving as an officer of any New York company.
State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who will oversee the trial and decide on the verdict, resolved the biggest claim in the case last week by holding Trump liable for fraud. The non-jury trial will now focus on the six remaining claims against Trump and his company, including issuing false financial statements and conspiring to falsify business records. That will determine the penalties.
Engoron is scheduled to hear evidence for almost three months. Trump, who is juggling five other civil and criminal trials as he campaigns to return to the White House, will attend the opening of the trial on Monday. He is also expected to testify in person at some point later in the proceeding. His two sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who are also defendants in the case, are due to testify, too.
The trial may also shed light on Trump’s fraught relationship with his bankers. Six current and former employees of Deutsche Bank AG, one of Trump’s biggest lenders before it cut ties after the January 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, are on the state’s witness list.
The suit doesn’t allege that the banks lost money by working with Trump, but the state does argue the institutions were put at risk because they made lending decisions based on falsified information.
The 77-year-old Republican presidential front-runner denies wrongdoing in all the cases against him and calls James’s suit part of a political assault by Democrats to hobble his campaign.
Here’s what you need to know:
James sued Trump in 2022, alleging he engaged in a “staggering” fraud by overstating the value of his properties by as much as $3.6 billion a year on his statements of financial condition and lying about his net worth. She began investigating the valuations in 2019 after Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that his longtime boss manipulated asset valuations to overstate his wealth.
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