An accountant who prepared Donald Trump’s financial statements for years is expected to return to the witness box for a second day in a trial over the former US president’s business practices.
Mr Trump, who spent a full day on Monday as an angry spectator at the civil trial, has said he will be back at the defence table.
“See you in Court on Tuesday morning!” Mr Trump posted on his Truth Social platform.
The trial is the culmination of a lawsuit in which attorney general Letitia James, a Democrat, has accused Mr Trump of deceiving banks, insurers and others for years by giving them papers that misstated the value of his assets.
Judge Arthur Engoron already delivered an early victory to Ms James, ruling that Mr Trump committed fraud by exaggerating the size of his penthouse at Trump Tower, claiming his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was worth as much as 739 million US dollars (£612 million), and putting similar oversized valuations on office towers, golf courses and other assets.
The non-jury trial concerns six remaining claims in the lawsuit, and how much Mr Trump might owe in penalties. Ms James is seeking 250 million dollars (£207 million) and a ban on Mr Trump doing business in New York. The judge has already ruled that some of Mr Trump’s limited liability companies should be dissolved as punishment.
During the trial’s first day, Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the attorney general, told the judge that Mr Trump and his company had lied “year after year after year” in his financial statements to make him look richer than he really was.
Mr Trump’s lawyers said the statements were legitimate representations of the worth of unique luxury properties, made even more valuable because of their association with Mr Trump. “That is not fraud. That is real estate,” lawyer Alina Habba said.
After staying away from a previous trial, in which his company and one of his top executives was convicted of tax fraud, Mr Trump spent hours sitting in court watching Monday’s opening statements, emerging several times to tell reporters that the trial was “a sham” intended to hurt his election prospects.
Visibly angry for much of the day, Mr Trump left claiming he had scored a victory, pointing to comments that he viewed as the judge coming around to the defence view that most of the allegations in the lawsuit are barred by the state’s statute of limitations.
After the first witness, Mazars LLP partner Donald Bender, gave evidence at length about Mr Trump’s 2011 financial statement, Judge Engoron questioned whether it might have been a waste of his time, because any fraud in the document would be beyond the legal time limit.
Mr Wallace promised to link it to a more recent loan agreement, but Mr Trump took the judge’s remarks as an “outstanding” development for him.
Mr Bender’s evidence is to resume on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last into December.
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