Trump fraud trial live: judge threatens to throw ex-president out of court for repeatedly exceeding scope of questions | Donald Trump

Judge threatens to boot Trump from court

Judge Engoron has lost his patience with Trump repeatedly failing to answer questions without rambling, once again urging lawyer Chris Kise “control him” and warning “if you can’t, I will; I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”

The digression that drew Engoron’s ire stemmed from Wallace’s question about the valuation of 40 Wall Street. Trump insisted that the valuation was too low.

“The tower is a perfect measurement for turning that into condos and I have the right to do that and at some point, we or somebody will do that––that’s the highest and best use, in which case $550m is a very low number.”

“All you have to do is look at a picture of the building,” he continued. “You say ‘that’s worth a whole lot more.’”

“Mr Kise, that was a simple yes or no question,” Engoron said.

“The question was whether he believed that was an accurate number. We got another speech.”

Engoron threatned to boot Trump from proceedings and urged Kise to control his client or else.

“If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”

Kise said that it was only right for Engoron to hear Trump out.

“No, I do not want to hear everything that he has to say,” said Engoron with increasing annoyance. “He has a lot to say that has nothing to do with the case or the questions.”

“I would urge the court to take in all the questions,” Kise pushed back. “This is a situation where you have, on the stand, [a witness] whose a candidate for president of the United States.”

Kise then invoked Trump’s campaign, saying of the testimony that: “Having him here takes away from that effort.”

Another Trump attorney, Alina Habba, voiced opposition. Engoron eventually told them “sit down already.”

When questioning resumed, Trump grumbled: “This is a very unfair trial…and I hope the public is watching.”

Key events

Trump says he became president ‘because of my brand’

Trump’s approach to defending himself against accusations that he over-valued real estate is interesting, to say the least. Trump said that if he wanted to inflate his assets on financial statements, he could have done it just by using his name.

“The most valuable asset was the brand value,” he said. “If you look at the companies, the brand value is a very big part of the asset value of the company.”

“If I wanted to build up a statement,” Trump said, “I would have added brand value here. and I would have increased it 10s of millions of dollars”

“It’s an asset,” he said of his brand. “Coca-Cola has it, and other big companies, public companies” have it.”

“I became president because of my brand,” Trump also said. “I sell books at levels that are incredible because of my brand.”

Judge asks Trump lawyer to ‘control your client’ as former president rails on stand

Donald Trump might have been prohibited from commenting on judge Arthur Engoron’s staff, but he freely railed against the jurist less than 30 minutes into his testimony.

The ex-president grew testy when asked about financial documents from approximately one decade ago; Trump’s alleged inflation of real estate assets is at the heart of his civil fraud trial.

When Wallace asked Trump about the document, he shot back: “It’s so long ago this is well beyond the statute of limitations.” Trump insisted that others would be exempt from scrutiny for a document this old.

“But I’m probably not, because I’m sure the judge will rule against me, because he always rules against me.”

“Mr Kise, was that comment necessary part of the narrative in answering the question,” Engoron said to Trump attorney Chris Kise, who had asked for his client to have some latitude in answering questions.

“Mr Trump, please just answer the question. You can attack me, you can do whatever you want, but answer the question,” Engoron said.

As questioning progressed, Trump grew increasingly incensed by Kise’s questions about his real estate being over-valued.

“Your case was that I had no money,” Trump said. “You sued me on the basis that Trump had no money and he wrote up phony things and he defrauded banks…”

“And even though these banks were paid back in full, there was no harm, no anything, everybody got their money in full, there was no victim,” Trump also said.

“The banks don’t even know what they’re doing in this case.”

“Mr Kise, can you control your client?” Engoron interjected. “This is not a political rally. This is a courtroom .”

“I’ve asked several times. I’ve asked the witness several times to answer the question,” the judge also said. “I don’t want editorializing. We’ll be here forever and accomplish nothing.”

Kevin Wallace, who is questioning Trump for the New York Attorney General’s Office, has asked started his examination with questions about the structure of the former president’s financials.

Specifically, Wallace is asking about Trump’s revocable trust, which holds now his assets and names him as the sole beneficiary.

Trump said that he moved assets into the trust “primarily when I won” the presidency. At the time one of his sons, Donald Trump Jr., and then-Trump Organization finance head Allen Weisselberg, were named as trustees. He said he trusted Weisselberg and thought his son capable of helming it.

“He’s a hardworking boy, young man, and he’s done a very good job,” Trump said of his son. “I thought that putting him on it would be good.

“He’s smart, hes a very honorable guy.”

Wallace noted that when Trump left the White House, he appointed himself as sole trustee.

“ I figured that I’d be back in business, I might as well be the trustee.”

Trump also railed against the many prosecutors bringing cases against him, saying they are “all Democrats, all Trump haters, in all cases they’re not good, inappropriate and not good.”

Trump takes witness stand to testify in fraud case

“The people call Donald J. Trump.”

The ex-president has just taken the witness stand in the New York State Attorney General’s case against him. He had a dour demeanor as he was sworn in and sat down.

New York attorney general Letitia James spoke outside the court before the hearing. She said she expected Trump to “engage in name-calling and taunts and race-baiting, and call this a witch hunt”.

James said the former president has “repeatedly and consistently misrepresented and inflated the value of his assets.”

“But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the facts and the numbers – and numbers, my friends, don’t lie.”

Donald Trump enters court for testimony in fraud case

Just before 10 am local time, Trump walked into the courtroom at 60 Centre street to testify in New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud case against him.

His testimony could start within moments.

While Trump’s testimony in court this morning is watershed in many ways, the ex-president is no stranger to taking the stand as a witness in trials.

Since 1986, Trump has testified in at least eight trials, according to an Associated Press analysis. The AP also reports that Trump has been questioned under oath “in more than a dozen depositions and regulatory hearings.”

In some of the proceedings detailed by AP, Trump comported himself as he did while in the White House and now, as an ex-president facing legal battles on several fronts–with anger and bombasity.

In an antitrust lawsuit filed against the National Football League nearly four decades ago, for example, Trump decried claims that he spied on the football association, calling it “such a false interpretation it’s disgusting.”

During a 2013 trial involving a Chicago widow who filed suit over contractual changes to a condo tower, “Trump grew increasingly agitated as his testimony wore on, at one point raising his arms and bellowing: ‘And then she sued me. It’s unbelievable!,’” AP said.

And, of course, there was Trump’s testimony in this trial nearly two weeks ago, when Judge Arthur Engoron questioned him about violating a gag order barring commentary about his court staff.

Trump claimed that he was speaking ill of former fixer-turned-state witness Michael Cohen, but Engoron determined: “As the trier of fact I find that the witness is not credible.”

Trump was fined $10,000.

Before heading to the court, Trump used Truth Social to attack the judge and attorney general in the case and claimed once again the case is politically motivated:

Got a really Biased, Nasty, Club controlled, but often overturned, Judge, a Racist, Evil, and Corrupt Attorney General, BUT A CASE THAT, ACCORDING TO ALMOST ALL LEGAL SCHOLARS, HAS ZERO MERIT,” he wrote. “A dark day for our Country. WITCH HUNT!

Donald Trump arrives at courthouse

Donald Trump has arrived at the Manhattan court house. The hearing is due to start at 10am ET and we will bring you all the latest from his testimony.

The former president will be testifying in a packed courtroom after journalists and court watchers lined up for hours before the court opened to secure a seat.

People wait in line outside of New York court to gain access to Trump trial. Photograph: Adam Gray/AFP/Getty Images

Trump motorcade ‘leaves for courthouse’

Donald Trump’s motorcade has left Trump Tower and is heading for the courthouse, according to NBC.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka is also expected to testify at the trial later this week. She is not a defendant in the case after an appellate court said earlier this year the specific claims against her were too old.

Ivanka Trump has argued against testifying several times. But her argument last week that she should be spared giving midweek testimony because she is a busy mother of school-age children in Florida was given short shrift by an appeals court.

Ivanka, who was a senior adviser during her father’s single term in office, asked a panel to set aside a ruling by a district court judge compelling her to testify on Wednesday.

But in an expedited ruling on Thursday night, the appeals court offered a curt, 11-word response.

“Application for interim stay pending decision on the motion is denied,” the judges wrote.

As a result, Trump will become the third child of the former president to give evidence in the trial, in which executives of the Trump Organization, including family members, deny wrongdoing.

The office of New York attorney general Letitia James, who has brought the trial against Trump and the Trump Organization has tweeted this morning:

Today, Donald Trump takes the stand in our trial against him and the Trump Organization.
 
He has repeatedly and consistently lied about the value of his assets to fraudulently enrich himself and his family.
 
Donald Trump might lie, but the facts and the numbers don’t.

— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) November 6, 2023

Here are some images from last week’s hearings involving Eric and Donald Trump Jr, as well as other top executives from the Trump Organization:

Eric Trump (C) sits in the courtroom alongside his attorneys for his second day of testimony during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City.
Eric Trump (C) sits in the courtroom alongside his attorneys for his second day of testimony during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City. Photograph: Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump's son and co-defendant, Donald Trump Jr., center, and lawyers Alina Habba, left, and Clifford Robert attend the Trump Organization’s civil fraud trial, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at New York Supreme Court in New York.
Former President Donald Trump’s son and co-defendant, Donald Trump Jr., center, and lawyers Alina Habba, left, and Clifford Robert attend the Trump Organization’s civil fraud trial, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at New York Supreme Court in New York. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/AP
New York Attorney General Letitia James waits for the start of proceedings in New York State Supreme Court, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023 in New York.
New York Attorney General Letitia James waits for the start of proceedings in New York State Supreme Court, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023 in New York. Photograph: Dave Sanders/AP
Former Trump Organization vice president David Orowitz, arrives for the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, at the New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., November 1, 2023.
Former Trump Organization vice president David Orowitz, arrives for the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, at the New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., November 1, 2023. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
Justice Arthur Engoron presides over former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City.
Justice Arthur Engoron presides over former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s $250m fraud trial moved to gag Trump’s lawyers from talking about “confidential communications” between the judge and his staff on Friday.

Judge Arthur Engoron has already fined Trump $15,000 for attacking his clerk on social media and threatened to jail the former president if the attacks continue.

“Failure to abide by this directive shall result in serious sanctions,” warned Engoron.

Here are some more details from the gag order:

“As I have stated on the record, seemingly to no avail, my law clerks are public servants who are performing their jobs in the manner in which I request. This includes providing legal authority and opinions, as well as responding to questions I pose to them.

Plainly, defendants are not entitled to the confidential communications amongst me and my court staff, who are hired specifically to aid me in carrying out my adjudicative responsibilities. Nor are they entitled to continue referencing my staff in the record…

This gag order is as narrowly tailored as possible to accomplish its purpose, which is to protect the safety of my staff and promote the orderly progression of this trial. As I have made clear, as the Judge in this case and the trier of fact, the gag order does not apply to me.

However I will not tolerate, under any circumstances, remarks about my court staff. The threat of, and actual, violence resulting from heated political rhetoric is well-documented.

Since the commencement of this bench trial, my chambers have been inundated with hundreds of harassing and threating phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters, and packages.

The First Amendment right of defendants and their attorneys to comment on my staff is far and away outweighed by the need to protect them from threats and physical harm.”

The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly took a look at the testimonies of Donald Trump’s eldest sons last week and why their repeated claims of “I don’t recall” may ring some bells:

In 1990, Ronald Reagan testified at the trial of John Poindexter, his former national security adviser caught up in the Iran-Contra affair. Two years out of office, questioned for eight hours, the former US president memorably said “I don’t recall” or “I can’t remember” no less than 88 times.

This week, the two adult sons of one of Reagan’s Republican successors took the stand in New York, for testimony in a $250m civil fraud trial in which the judge has already determined the family’s guilt and now seeks to determine their penalty.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump often pays tribute to Reagan. In the courtroom, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump tipped the hat to the master of repetitive deflection under legal examination.

On Wednesday, Trump Jr answered several questions in the Reagan manner. Asked, for example, about the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, and if his father was still one of its trustees, he simply said: “I don’t recall.”

On Thursday, Trump Jr was asked about a $2m severance package given earlier this year to Allen Weisselberg, the longtime Trump Organization chief financial officer who went to jail for tax fraud. He could not recall much, he said.

For the full story, click here:

What we know so far

Here is a look at what we’ve learned about the Trump family civil fraud trial so far:

  • Donald Trump Jr repeatedly distanced himself last week from the statements of financial condition involved in the trial. “I do not recall,” the former president’s eldest son said multiple times and deferred to “the accountants [who] worked” on the statements.

  • Eric Trump echoed similar sentiments as his brother last week. When asked about how he ensured the accuracy of the financial estimates, he said, “I rely on the accounting office.”

  • New York attorney general Letitia James said that despite Eric and Donald Jr “pretend[ing] that they were not involved in their family’s fraudulent business…the facts tell a very different story.”

  • Ivanka Trump’s claim that she is too busy to testify during a school week, alleging that she will “suffer undue hardship,” was rejected by a New York appeals court last Thursday. She is set to appear in court later this week.

  • Judge Arthur Engoron extended a gag order to Trump’s legal team on Friday. The order prohibits Trump’s lawyers from discussing “confidential communications” between him and his court staff, citing threats of political violence.

Donald Trump set to testify in civil fraud trial

Donald Trump is set to make an appearance at the Manhattan federal courthouse today where he will testify as a defendant in his $250 million civil fraud lawsuit.

The lawsuit is brought forth by New York attorney general Letitia James who is accusing Trump and several top executives – including his eldest sons – from the Trump Organization of fraudulently inflating the value of the former president’s properties to secure better loans from banks.

With the court closed on Tuesday for Election Day, Trump’s hearing could very likely go into Wednesday where his daughter Ivanka Trump is scheduled to testify.

Trump’s testimony will follow the testimonies from his two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr who repeatedly claimed last week that they do not recall or have knowledge surrounding the statements of financial condition.

Court is due to start at 10am ET and in previous hearings the judge allowed pictures to be taken before testimony got under way.

In September, the judge overseeing the trial, Arthur Engoron, ruled that Trump committed fraud for years as he expanded his real estate empire. Engoron’s ruling came as part of a rejection of Trump’s attempt to throw out the lawsuit against him.

On Friday, Engoron moved to prohibit Trump’s attorneys from discussing “confidential communications” between him and his staff, which he said put his staff at risk.

The case has drawn ire from Trump who lashed out at Engoron in fiery Truth Social posts. “He is the fraudster, not me,” the former president said, adding that Engoron is a “Trump hating, radical left, Democrat operative judge.”

There are not expected to be any cameras in court. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

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