Trump: As he returned to a Manhattan courtroom for the second day of his trial on civil charges that he and his firm manipulated corporate and personal records for financial advantage, former president Donald Trump once more came face to face with New York Attorney General Letitia James.
On one of the counts, Judge Arthur Engoron has already decided against Trump and the other defendants, concluding that they committed commercial fraud prior to the trial. The remaining counts in the lawsuit, which relate to alleged falsification of business records, issuance of fraudulent financial statements, and conspiracy, are the primary topics of the trial.
Trump voluntarily showed up for the trial’s first day on Monday, where a large audience had assembled to watch the proceedings. He severely lambasted James and Engoron regarding the matter outside of the courthouse, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “disgrace.”
On Tuesday, he returned to the huge courtroom, where a markedly lesser number of spectators filled just over half the seats.
What happened on the first day of the trial
Opening statements from both sides and the introduction of the state’s first witness marked the beginning of the trial on Monday.
The other accusations in the case revolve on the creation of allegedly phony corporate documents and personal financial statements over a period of years, according to Kevin Wallace, the primary attorney for James’ office, who gave a 65-slide presentation summarizing them. The government contends that Trump and the business fabricated the records to overstate the value of the properties owned by the Trump Organization and the personal wealth of the former president in order to secure more benevolent loan conditions.
Wallace stated, “The defendants utilized the claims, knowing they were fraudulent, to pursue and receive financial rewards.
The defendants’ attorneys responded with their own opening statements, with Christopher Kise, a lawyer for Trump, stating that the appraisals were acceptable and correct. He claimed that Trump’s personal financial accounts were prepared using a different accounting standard than those of the business and declared that the defense will bring witnesses to attest to the accuracy of them.
As their first witness, Wallace and his group called accountant Donald Bender from the accounting firm Mazars, which has been in charge of overseeing Trump and the business’ financial records for more than 30 years. He explained the procedure he used to create financial statements using data supplied by the Trump Organization. He claimed that at the company’s request, he deviated from generally accepted accounting procedures, or GAAP, for several of the commercial units of the Trump Organization. According to Bender’s testimony, he would not have approved these statements if he had realized that the company’s claims were untrue.
Day 2 of the Trump trial
On Tuesday, Bender took the witness stand once more to continue explaining the financial documents at issue in the case year by year.
The majority of the documents displayed were challenged by Kise, the Trump attorney, who said that depending on the document, the applicable statute of limitations barred the use of evidence from before 2014 or 2016. These concerns were overcome by Engoron, who determined on Monday that evidence from before 2014 was admissible. Wallace informed the judge that the state intended to link the older records to loans that became due within the statute of limitations at a later date.
Bender asserted that if Mazars had believed the information to be false, it would not have released a statement of financial condition (SOFC), which is effectively a snapshot of Trump’s personal finances. In 2022, Mazars renounced a decade of SOFCs, withdrew Trump as a customer, and denied to issue a SOFC for the previous year.
Beginning in 2013, according to Bender, he requested any accessible property evaluations from the Trump Organization when he was creating SOFCs. He added that it was during a Zoom interview with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that he discovered there were assessments that he had not been given roughly three years prior.
Later, that office accused former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, two Trump Organization firms, and others of tax fraud. Weisselberg entered a guilty plea, and the businesses were convicted guilty on 17 related offenses in December 2022.
A Manhattan grand jury accused Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business documents four months later. In the matter, he entered a not guilty plea.