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.
- Defense's accounting expert was paid $877K
- 'There is no fraud here,' accounting expert testifies
- Judge says he'll 'rigorously' enforce limited gag order
- Deutsche Bank made money from Trump, defense emphasizes
- Trump's disclaimer told bankers to 'beware,' expert says
- Trump distances himself from preparation of statements
- Trump's misrepresentations cost banks $168M, expert testifies
- Trump, after testifying, fined $10,000 for violating gag order
- Trump tax rep acknowledged much lower value for Mar-a-Lago
Accounting expert to resume after Trump testifies Monday
New York University accounting professor Eli Bartov will have to return to court on Tuesday to conclude his testimony, after his direct examination ran longer than expected.
After Bartov's direct examination concluded, state attorney Louis Solomon began his cross-examination -- but the parties agreed to adjourn for the day and resume the cross-examination next week.
Donald Trump is scheduled to be the only witness on Monday.
Once Bartov concludes his testimony, New York Attorney General Letitia James plans to present a brief rebuttal case.
Defense's accounting expert was paid $877K
The defense's accounting expert, Eli Bartov, was paid approximately $877,500 for his expert analysis, the New York University professor testified.
Bartov said he was paid an hourly rate of $1,350 for 650 hours of work, receiving payments from the Trump Organization and Trump's Save America PAC.
The state's lone expert witness, Michiel McCarty, was paid roughly $350,000 for his testimony.
Bartov's testimony about his compensation followed a tense exchange in which defense attorney Alina Habba accused Judge Engoron of "wasting time and money" by ignoring expert testimony.
"Why are we wasting our time if nobody is considering the words coming out of our experts' mouths?" Habba said.
Judge denies defense's 4th request to end trial
The second day of testimony from the defense's expert accounting witness prompted an argument between attorneys for the two sides over the basic question of what the case is about -- leading defense lawyers to make their fourth unsuccessful request for a directed verdict to end the trial.
The arguments came toward the end of direct testimony by accounting expert defense Eli Bartov, who asserted the New York attorney general's case lacked merit because there was no evidence of any fraud on Trump's statements of financial condition, and that any errors about the values of Trump's properties were unintentional and therefore immaterial.
When the defense attempted to question Bartov about those values, state attorneys objected -- prompting defense attorney Christopher Kise to leap from his seat.
"If they don't call anyone to dispute our values, how have they proven their case?" Kise said.
Judge Arthur Engoron, in a pretrial ruling, already decided that Trump conducted a decade's worth of business using fraudulent financial statements, and state attorney Kevin Wallace suggested that Bartov's findings do not change those findings.
"You can't use false statements in business. That's what the summary judgment decision is all about. I think it is pretty much what the rest of this case is about," Engoron said in response to Kise's question.
Kise argued that if the attorney general doesn't prove what Trump's asset values should have been, the case is a "completely rudderless ship" that needs to be "moored to some sort of standard."
"You can't just say it's a misstatement because you feel like it," Kise argued.
"The standard is truth," Engoron responded.
The exchange prompted Trump's legal spokesperson, Alina Habba, to make the defense's fourth motion for a directed verdict, arguing that Engoron is "wasting our time" if he won't consider their expert testimony.
"They have not proven their case. They haven't," Habba said in her request for a directed verdict.
"Denied," Engoron said within seconds of the request, without hearing a response from lawyers for the New York attorney general.
Defense's accounting expert to return to witness stand
The defense's accounting expert, Eli Bartov, is scheduled to return to the witness stand for a second day of testimony in Donald Trump's civil fraud trial.
During a full day of testimony yesterday, the New York University professor offered a full-throated endorsement of Trump's statements of financial condition that are at the heart of the attorney general's case, saying, "I've never seen a statement that provides so much detail and is so transparent as these statements."
Of discrepancies like Trump overvaluing his Trump Tower penthouse by $100 million in 2012, Bartov characterized it as a mistake and not fraud.
Trump, in attendance at the trial yesterday, told reporters, "He found absolutely no fraud, accounting fraud of any kind. This is a highly respected man. I don't know him, but he's an expert witness."
Trump is not expected to attend court today for Bartov's cross examination, when defense attorneys are expected to scrutinize his conclusions and his motives for testifying, including over $500,000 in compensation for his testimony.