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Donald Trump takes stand in New York fraud trial

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In a highly anticipated development, former President Donald Trump is set to testify in his family’s New York fraud trial, which has been years in the making.

The investigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, became public knowledge in 2020 and has now led to a $250 million lawsuit alleging a years-long fraud scheme involving Trump, the Trump Organization, and several executives, including his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr.

The civil suit alleges that Trump played a central role in a scheme to fraudulently exaggerate his wealth and property values to secure favorable loan and insurance terms. The trial has already seen the judge finding Trump, his adult sons, and their company liable for fraud, resulting in hundreds of millions in unearned profits.

The ongoing trial includes additional allegations of falsifying business records, conspiracy, insurance fraud, and the determination of the “ill-gotten gains” the Trump family must repay to the state.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have already testified, and Ivanka Trump is scheduled to testify soon. Although she was initially part of the lawsuit, claims against her were dropped due to the statute of limitations.

This marks Trump’s first testimony related to the fraud allegations in the trial. Previously, he faced courtroom action when he was ordered to the stand for potentially violating a gag order. The judge found Trump “not credible” and imposed fines.

The investigation into the Trump family’s financial dealings was prompted by Michael Cohen’s 2019 testimony before Congress, in which he claimed knowledge of Trump inflating his wealth for banks and reducing valuations for tax purposes. Cohen, who testified during the trial, also suggested the involvement of Trump’s three eldest adult children in preparing financial documents with falsified data.

The lawsuit seeks $250 million in damages and sanctions aimed at limiting the Trump family’s business activities in New York, including barring them from holding officer or director positions in state businesses.

Throughout the trial, the Trumps have pointed to their former accountants, Mazars USA, as responsible for any inaccuracies in their financial statements. However, the former Mazars accountant testified that they merely compiled data provided by the Trumps.

Amidst these legal proceedings, Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Letitia James of conducting a political “witch hunt,” while she has characterized his actions as turning the trial into a “show.”

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