Former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial commenced in New York, sparked by allegations of financial deception and misrepresentation.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has spent years investigating Trump and his company’s financial activities.
Trump, who called the trial a “witch hunt,” arrived in the courtroom for the first day, despite it being a voluntary appearance. He had stated his intention to attend on Sunday.
The core of the case revolves around accusations that Trump and his company provided false information about their wealth in financial statements.
Attorney General Letitia James is seeking at least $250 million in fines from Trump and a ban on his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, from running businesses in New York.
Judge Arthur Engoron ruled last week that Trump had committed fraud by exaggerating asset values, deceiving banks, insurers, and other entities. He stated, “They were lying year after year after year.”
The trial’s first witness was Donald Bender, Trump’s former accountant at Mazars USA, who retired from the firm.
Bender testified that he compiled financial statements for Trump and the Trump Organization, based on information provided by the Trumps.
He clarified that he did not perform analytical work on the information but simply formatted it as per their inputs.
Trump’s defense lawyer, Chris Kise, objected to the admission of an engagement letter from Mazars for Trump’s 2011 financial statement.
However, Judge Engoron overruled the objection, stating that the document might be relevant to fraud within the statute of limitations.
The trial, expected to last three months, could have significant implications for Trump’s financial and political future. If he loses,
Trump could face penalties of $250 million and may be forced to divest several high-profile properties in New York.
The trial is one of several legal challenges Trump is facing, both civil and criminal, in New York and other jurisdictions.
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