Trump fraud trial live updates: Judge says he’ll ‘rigorously’ enforce reinstated gag order


(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $250 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.

Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engaging in a decade-long scheme in which they used “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate Trump’s net worth in order get more favorable loan terms. The trial comes after the judge in the case ruled in a partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted “fraudulent valuations” for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.

The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump’s alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 30, 5:00 PM EST
Trump attorney calls NY AG’s case ‘fraud with no victims’

Following the adjournment of court for the day, Trump attorney Chris Kise criticized the attorney general’s case on the basis of testimony from the Deutsche Bank executives who said they were eager to do business with Trump regardless of the contents of his financial statements.

Echoing past comments, Kise described the case as a “fraud with no victims” in comments to ABC News.

Kise also slammed today’s appellate court ruling reinstating Judge Engoron’s limited gag orders as a “total breakdown of the rule of law.”

“Now you have the front-running presidential candidate who can’t even comment about why he thinks he’s not getting a fair trial,” Kise said about the impact of the ruling.

“I’m not sure how much more absurd it can get for President Trump,” he said.

Nov 30, 4:14 PM EST
Expert disputes allegation that Trump cost lenders $168M

Robert Unell, an expert in commercial real estate, disputed the analysis conducted by the state’s expert, Michiel McCarty, who testified that Trump’s alleged deceptions cost his lenders $168 million in lost interest.

“It is really, in my opinion, a very narrow-minded support,” Unell, testifying for the defense, said about the assumptions McCarty made regarding the interest rate of the loans.

Unell said that Trump’s lenders made money, faced less risk in their investments over time, and sought additional business from the former president and his family. He also criticized the allegation that Trump risked defaulting on any of his loans by offering himself as a personal guarantor of the loans.

“It means the bank got what they wanted … they had a warm body who was going to stand behind the loan and provide credit support,” Unell said about Trump’s personal support of the loans.

Judge Engoron interjected at multiple points to question Unell about his findings, at one point noting that the loans would have been pricier for Trump if lenders faced more risk stemming from Trump inflating his assets.

“The more value in collateral, the less risk, the lower the interest rate,” Engoron said.

Nov 30, 3:55 PM EST
NY court official says judge’s wife hasn’t posted about Trump

Over the last week, Donald Trump has made multiple posts on social media about a social media account he alleges belongs to Judge Arthur Engoron’s wife, accusing her of sharing multiple posts critical of the former president, including doctored images depicting Trump in prison.

“Judge Engoron’s Trump Hating wife,” Trump called her Wednesday on Truth Social.

A court official on Thursday denied that any of the posts referenced by Trump were made by Engoron’s wife.

“Justice Engoron’s wife has sent no social media posts regarding the former president. They are not hers,” court spokesperson Al Baker wrote in a statement.

Nov 30, 12:02 PM EST
Closing arguments set for Jan. 11

Judge Engoron has set a date of Jan. 11 for closing arguments in the trial.

Both parties face a noon deadline on Jan. 5 to file their briefs, and closing arguments are scheduled to take place in person on Jan. 11, the judge decided after considering scheduling proposals from both the state and the defense.

Engoron said he plans to issue his decision in the case “a few weeks after” closing arguments.

“I would hope this [January] but no guarantees,” Engoron said.

State attorneys had requested closing statements take place Dec. 13, while attorneys for Donald Trump suggested closing arguments be presented 60 days after both parties submitted paper filings.

Nov 30, 11:40 AM EST
Judge says he’ll ‘rigorously’ enforce limited gag order

Judge Arthur Engoron warned that he plans to “rigorously” enforce the limited gag order he handed down last month, after an appeals court reinstated it this morning.

“I want to make sure all counsel are aware, and they probably already are aware, that this morning the Appellate Division First Department issued a decision vacating the stay on the two gag orders that I imposed earlier on this case,” Engoron said in court. “So I intend to enforce the gag orders rigorously and vigorously, and I want to make sure that counsel informs their clients of the fact that the stay was vacated.”

“We’re aware. It’s a tragic day for the rule of law, but we are aware,” Kise responded.

“It is what it is,” Engoron quipped.

Nov 30, 11:06 AM EST
Appellate court reinstates limited gag order

A New York appellate court has upheld the limited gag order imposed by Judge Engoron in the ongoing trial.

The decision reinstates the limited gag order Engoron imposed on Trump and his attorneys prohibiting them from disparaging court staff, particularly his principle law clerk, who has come under attack by Trump on social media.

The limited gag order was temporarily lifted two weeks ago by appellate judge after Trump’s lawyers sued Judge Engoron.

Engoron’s lawyer wrote in support of the gag order, saying that Engoron and his clerk have been inundated with threats since Trump began his attacks.

“It is ordered that the motion is denied; the interim relief granted by order of a Justice of this Court, dated November 16, 2023, is hereby vacated,” the appellate court said in its ruling issued this morning.

Nov 30, 8:44 AM EST
Defense calling real estate expert to stand

Donald Trump’s lawyers are calling real estate expert Robert Unell as a witness this morning.

Unell is one of several defense experts who submitted reports to the court disputing the New York attorney general’s findings that Trump committed fraud in the statements of financial condition he provided to lenders.

“The financial information provided to the lenders was correct in all material respects and contrary to the Plaintiff’s allegations, therefore the Defendants did not receive any financial benefits on commercial real estate loans based on the submission of any false, inflated, or misleading valuations,” Unell wrote in his expert report.

Unell, in the deposition he gave to the defense, also defended Trump’s use of a disclaimer — which Trump has said is sometimes referred to as a “worthless clause” — that warned lenders that Trump’s statements might contain information that does not comply with standard accounting practices.

“I first read it in President Trump’s deposition,” Unell said regarding Trump’s use of the “worthless clause” phrase. “And it kind of stuck. Because, quite honestly, I had never heard it called that, but it is truly what the meaning of it is.”

Nov 29, 5:49 PM EST
Trump firm ‘in compliance’ but under ‘enhanced monitoring’

Donald Trump agreed to “enhanced monitoring” of the Trump Organization’s finances after the company’s independent monitor flagged cash transfers of roughly $40 million over the last 10 months.

Former judge Barbara Jones, the independent monitor requested by the New York attorney general in the case, wrote in a letter to Judge Arthur Engoron that she had identified three separate cash transfers of more than $5 million, totaling approximately $40 million. Jones said the transfers included $29 million in tax payments and roughly $10 million for insurance premiums.

“We have discussed with Defendants why these transactions were not previously disclosed, and I have now clarified (and Defendants have agreed) that all transfers of assets out of the Trust exceeding $5 million must be reported,” Jones wrote.

Jones also requested information related to an intercompany loan and flagged the delayed disclosure of tax returns for six of Trump’s entities, which defendants acknowledged as their mistake.

“Defendants continue to cooperate with me and are generally in compliance with the Court’s orders, and have committed to ensure that all required information, including tax information and cash transfers, are promptly disclosed to the Monitor,” Jones wrote.

Addressing a report she issued in August about incomplete financial disclosures by the Trump Organization, Jones added that the Trump Organization took additional steps to remedy and disclose the issue.

“By taking these steps I believe Defendants have resolved the issues identified in the August Report, subject to ongoing monitoring,” Jones wrote.

Nov 29, 5:28 PM EST
Trump VP walks back testimony suggesting conspiracy

Trump Organization VP Patrick Birney, testifying for the defense, walked back testimony from earlier in the trial about receiving instructions to inflate the value of Trump’s assets from the company’s former CFO.

“Did Allen Weisselberg ever tell you that Mr. Trump wanted his net worth on the statement of financial condition to go up?” state attorney Eric Haren asked Birney during the state’s case.

“Yes,” Birney responded, describing that he received the instruction in Weisselberg’s office between 2017 and 2019.

During an argument for a directed verdict earlier this month, Donald Trump’s attorney Chris Kise cited that as some of the only testimony to support the New York attorney general’s allegation that members of the Trump Organization conspired to inflate the former president’s net worth.

Returning to the witness stand for the defense’s case, Birney suggested that any changes to Trump’s financial statement were based on material changes to assets.

“Were you ever directed to increase a number without there being an underlying basis to increase that valuation?” defense attorney Jennifer Hernandez asked.

“No,” Birney said.

Judge Arthur Engoron adjourned court for the day after Birney completed his testimony.

“OK, class dismissed,” Engoron quipped.

Nov 29, 3:45 PM EST
Deutsche Bank expected Trump to value assets fairly, banker says

Former Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic testified on cross-examination by state attorneys that Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. secured private financing using recourse — meaning they were personally liable for the loan.

“Sorry about the recourse issue — a dirty word, I know — but it is a requirement in private banking,” Vrablic wrote in a 2011 introductory email to Donald Trump Jr.

Vrablic confirmed that each of the Trumps she worked with — Donald, Ivanka, and Donald Trump Jr. — used a personal guaranty to secure better financing terms.

“It gives the flexibility to be creative on some solutions because the person is standing behind it,” Vrablic testified.

State attorney Kevin Wallace appeared to focus on the personal guaranty during the cross-examination, with the discussion bringing the focus back on the representation of the value of Trump’s assets.

While Vrablic confirmed that she never personally reviewed Donald Trump’s statement of financial condition, she said the bank still expected it was accurate.

“You would have had an expectation that a borrower like Mr. Trump would present their financial information fairly?” Wallace asked.

“Yes,” Vrablic replied.

Nov 29, 2:31 PM EST
Deutsche Bank made money from Trump, defense emphasizes

Defense attorney Jesus Suarez, in his direct examination of Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic, emphasized that Deutsche Bank was eager for Trump’s business and made money from the loans they offered him.

“Your family is in the top 10 revenue generating names of Asset and Wealth Management now and he is thrilled with how it’s grown,” Vrablic wrote in a 2014 email to Ivanka Trump, referring to Vrablic’s boss at Deutsche Bank.

That same year, Vrablic estimated that the bank made more than $6.8 million in fees from the Trump Organization.

Vrablic described her role as an intermediary between lenders at the bank and Ivanka Trump, both hunting for deals within the bank and courting the Trumps for increased business.

“Existing customers are the best source of additional customers,” Vrablic said about importance of Trump’s business, given his connections in real estate and his wealthy family.

Nov 29, 1:50 PM EST
Bank was concerned DC hotel deal could publicize loan terms

Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic expressed concern about the public nature of Donald Trump’s 2012 acquisition of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., fearing the deal might publicize the favorable loan terms offered by the bank, according to evidence presented at trial.

“Will our terms and conditions with you be made public? Not a credit issue, but we want to be prepared if ‘other clients’ see it and ask for the same deal,” Vrablic wrote in a 2013 email shown at trial.

The Trump Organization won the bidding process with the federal government in 2012 for the property, and Deutsche Bank loaned the firm the money for the renovation of the decrepit building.

“We won! We’re very very excited!” Ivanka Trump wrote in a 2012 email to Vrablic.

Vrablic, concerned about the loan terms being publicized, said, “We would not talk about that,” regarding the importance of keeping the terms private from other high-net-worth clients.

Vrablic could not recall how the loan term details were protected, but she confirmed that Deutsche Bank made $3.3 million from their loan to the Trump Organization related to the property.

Nov 29, 1:30 PM EST
Scrutiny over Trump’s presidency prompted bank to halt relationship

Deutsche Bank decided to stop doing new business with Donald Trump due to the “increased exposure” and “scrutiny” related to his being elected president, according to testimony from Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic.

“It was an unprecedented situation to have a customer who was going to become president of the United States,” Vrablic said.

By the time Trump was elected, the bank had made three profitable loans to Trump, making a projected $6.8 million in revenue from Trump in 2014. Vrablic confirmed that by July 2015, Trump had $31 million in cash deposits with the bank, and his associated entities stored $86 million in cash deposits.

However, the scrutiny of Trump’s presidency prompted the bank to decide not to increase its exposure, including declining to offer Trump a loan for his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland.

“He was president of the United States — going to become president of the United States — and the bank’s position was they did not want to increase its exposure at that time,” Vrablic testified.

Nov 29, 12:14 PM EST
Deutsche Bank courted Trump for more business, referrals

Deutsche Bank executives courted Donald Trump to attract more business and referrals, viewing the former president as an opportunity to sell services to his family members and other high-net-worth individuals, according to the testimony of former Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic.

“Given the circles this family travels in, we expect to be introduced to the wealthiest people on the planet,” Vrablic wrote to colleagues while courting Trump in the early 2010s, according to materials entered into evidence.

Recruiting Trump stemmed from a 2007 effort in the bank to develop a broader commercial real estate financing division for their high-net-worth individuals.

“He would have fit the category of the entrepreneur and investor with a successful track record,” Vrablic testified on the stand regarding Trump’s profile.

After being introduced to Donald Trump Jr. through Ivanka Trump’s now-husband Jared Kushner, Vrablic began pursuing Donald Trump’s business.

“We are whale hunting … Haven’t seen him yet. Also maybe Dad will convert like Ivanka did,” Vrablic wrote in a 2011 email to a colleague.

“It is a term used when there is a very high-net-worth individual who is a prospect,” Vrablic said in explaining why she referred to Trump as a “whale.”

Once Trump was on board, leadership from the bank personally courted Trump to do more business with the bank and to connect them to other potential clients. The former CEO of the bank personally met with Trump with the express goal of gaining more deposits from Trump and leveraging Trump’s relationships.

CEO Anshu Jain “thought that if Mr. Trump wanted to, there could be additional leverage provided among his world,” Vrablic testified.

The effort appeared to work, as the bank made over $3 million in revenue from Trump in 2013, up from only $13,000 in 2011.

Nov 29, 10:32 AM EST
Defense cuts short Deutsche Bank VP testimony

Donald Trump’s lawyers decided to cut short their direct examination of former Deutsche Bank vice president Emily Pereless.

Trump’s team originally said they planned to shorten their direct examination after Pereless appeared reluctant to answer questions yesterday. Returning to court this morning, they decided to forgo the remaining testimony to avoid “prolonging” the proceedings.

Pereless then faced a short cross-examination about her work attempting to value Trump’s Doral golf resort.

Nov 29, 9:12 AM EST
Deutsche Bank execs continue on witness stand

Former Deutsche Bank vice president Emily Pereless is scheduled to return to the witness stand for an abbreviated round of questions this morning, after being called as a witness yesterday.

Despite being a witness for the defense, Pereless reluctantly answered questions from defense attorney Jesus Suarez about her work reviewing Donald Trump’s finances between 2011 and 2014.

The defense then plans to call to the stand former Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic, who was considered to be Donald Trump’s lead banker during the period in question.

Trump’s adult children, in their testimony, have described Vrablic as the family’s primary contact at Deutsche Bank. A lender with the bank’s private wealth management division, Vrablic initially became acquainted with Ivanka Trump through her husband Jared Kushner.

Nov 28, 6:34 PM EST
Judge appears dubious of defense’s latest argument

Court was adjourned for the day following an afternoon in which Judge Engoron appeared to shoot down one of the defense’s main remaining arguments following defense attorneys’ request for a directed verdict.

Defense lawyer Chris Kise argued that the state failed to prove that Trump’s lenders would have acted differently had they known about the fraud alleged by the New York attorney general — but Engoron said “the mere fact that the lenders were happy doesn’t mean the statute wasn’t violated.”

Earlier this month, during testimony from the defense’s first expert witness Steven Witkoff, Trump’s lawyers attempted to argue that Trump had undervalued some of his properties, which balanced out the alleged inflated properties in his statement of financial condition. Engoron, however, declined to allow testimony related to that argument, saying, “The reader of the financial statement has the right to know whether each particular number was accurate.”

That same day, Trump’s lawyers also presented testimony from expert witness Jason Flemmons that Trump disclosed that the values of nearly 95% of the assets in his financial statements departed from generally accepted accounting practices.

“It’s effectively saying, ‘User beware,"” Flemmons said.

But Engoron said Flemmons only addressed the methods used in the statements, rather than the numbers themselves, which could have been incorrect.

Defense attorneys are scheduled to call additional witnesses over the next week before Eric Trump and Donald Trump return to the stand as the defense wraps up its case in the next two weeks.

Nov 28, 5:37 PM EST
Ex-Deutsche Bank VP can’t describe Trump’s due diligence

Former Deutsche Bank vice president Emily Pereless, testifying for the defense, appeared reluctant to offer details about the process of reviewing Donald Trump’s bank and brokerage statements between 2011 and 2014.

Pereless physically reviewed Trump’s bank and brokerage statements with a colleague, according to documents shown at trial, and signed Deutsche Bank credit reports. Despite being called as a defense witness, she struggled to recall any details about the process and appeared uncooperative on the witness stand.

“I analyzed and compiled the information provided,” Pereless testified about a 2014 credit report, saying could not recall the specific steps she took in detail.

Defense attorney Jesus Suarez attempted to refresh her recollection by showing her a document titled “DT Due Diligence Items” that listed steps that included reviewing Trump’s personal tax reports, understanding ownership structures for assets, and learning of Trump’s financial commitments.

Pereless still said she could not recall specific steps cited in the document, and even struggled to confirm who the aforementioned “DT” was.

“I am assuming it means Donald Trump, but I don’t recall specifically,” Pereless said.

Trump’s attorneys said they planned to shorten their remaining direct examination when Pereless returns to the stand tomorrow.

Nov 28, 4:20 PM EST
For 3rd time, defense asks for directed verdict

Defense attorney Christopher Kise requested Judge Engoron issue a directed verdict at the conclusion of testimony from Deutsche Bank managing director Dave Williams — marking the third time the defense has asked the judge to stop the proceedings and decide the case in their favor.

“Was an event of default ever declared by Deutsche Bank on the loans to the Trump Organization?” defense attorney Jesus Suarez asked Williams at the end of Williams’ testimony.

“No,” Williams replied, prompting Kise to jump up and make his request.

“This witness has again testified the bank conducted its own due diligence” and was not defrauded by Trump’s statements of financial condition, Kise argued.

“This is a subjective exercise. There isn’t a right answer. There isn’t an ‘Ah-ha, you picked the wrong number,"” Kise said. “The bank is in a relationship whose job it is to make these determinations. It’s not the attorney general’s job to insert herself into a private transaction ten years later.”

Judge Engoron took the defense’s motion under advisement but signaled he was unmoved.

“The mere fact that the lenders were happy doesn’t mean the statute wasn’t violated,” Engoron said.

Kevin Wallace, an attorney for the state, took issue with the Kise’s analysis of the testimony.

“The witness did not say none of this matters. The witness said he expects clients to tell the truth,” Wallace said.

Nov 28, 2:19 PM EST
Trump easily met Deutsche Bank loan requirements, banker says

Deutsche Bank did its own due diligence to estimate Trump’s net worth, landing on a figure that differed from Trump’s reported net worth by over $2 billion — but the difference didn’t concern the bank, according to testimony from managing director Dave Williams.

Trump reported a net worth of nearly $5 billion in 2013, according to documents shown at trial. The bank’s own Valuation Services Group produced an estimate of only $2.6 billion, a difference that Williams described as “not unusual or atypical.”

“My reaction was probably pretty measured,” Williams said about learning that the bank determined that Trump’s net worth was nearly half the estimate provided by Trump. “We are expected to conduct due diligence and verify information to the extent that is possible.”

Even with Deutsche Bank’s lower estimate, the former president easily met the bank’s $100 million net-worth requirement for high-net-worth individuals, according to Williams.

“He reported both a net worth and investable assets well in excess of our minimum requirements,” Williams said, confirming that the bank set the interest rate for Trump’s commercial loans between 2%-2.5%.

The testimony also appeared to bolster Trump’s arguments that his lenders did their own due diligence, diminishing the importance of his statements of financial condition that are at the center of the case.

Nov 28, 12:16 PM EST
Trump never risked defaulting on loan covenants, banker suggests

Deutsche Bank managing director Dave Williams downplayed the possibility that Donald Trump could have defaulted on the net-worth covenants included in his loans.

While both parties agree that Trump never defaulted on his loans, New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges that had Trump accurately reported the value of his assets, he could have risked defaulting on a loan covenant that required he maintain a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Defense attorney Jesus Suarez pushed back on that allegation by asking Williams about the severity of a covenant default — i.e., breaching the terms of the loan — compared to a payment default triggered by a missed payment.

“Generally speaking, a payment default is a more material default than a covenant default,” Williams said. “It speaks definitively to the repayment of the loan.”

Williams described a loan covenant as a “guardrail,” and suggested that breaching the covenant would have brought Trump back to the negotiating table to adjust the loan terms.

Williams also reiterated that he was not aware of any loan or covenant defaults by Trump.

James is expected to request a fine of nearly $400 million for Trump’s allegedly ill-gotten gains, including over $140 million based on the potential interest she says was lost by Deutsche Bank. By proving that the loan agreements were lawful, Trump’s lawyers could significantly lower the fine Trump faces.

Nov 28, 11:44 AM EST
Net worth is subjective, banker says

The managing director of Deutsche Bank, which was Trump’s primary lender in the 2010s, testified that it would be impossible for the bank to calculate their client’s net worth with mathematical certainty.

“I don’t believe that is possible,” said Dave Williams, testifying for the defense. “I think an individual’s net worth as reported is largely subjective, or subject to the use of estimates.”

The assertion bolsters a recurring theme of the defense’s case — that determining the value of Trump’s assets was less of a science than an art form.

Williams said that, regardless of what Trump reported, Deutsche Bank made more conservative estimates about the value of his assets.

“I think it’s a difference of opinion. We expect clients provide information to be accurate. At the same time, it’s not an industry standard that these financial statements are audited,” Williams said.

Nov 28, 9:24 AM EST
Deutsche Bank executives to testify for defense

A day after Trump lawyer Chris Kise asserted that the only person who believes the former president committed fraud in his business transactions is New York Attorney General Letitia James, that claim will face a key test over the next two days as Trump’s lawyers call four executives from Deutsche Bank, Trump’s primary lender at the time of the alleged conduct.

Trump’s lawyers claim that the executives will prove that the bank would have still done business with Trump despite his inflated claims about his assets.

“They’re skipping over the part where they have to establish that the gains are ill-gotten, meaning that the loans would not have been issued in the first place or that the terms would have been different,” Kise said in November during an argument for a directed verdict.

James, however, says that the banks lost millions in potential interest based on Trump’s inflated valuations.

Nov 27, 6:52 PM EST
Trump Organization VP returns to witness stand

Trump Organization Vice President Patrick Birney returned to the witness stand to describe his role preparing Trump’s statement of financial condition between 2016 and 2021.

“Every new year, I would just copy and paste the spreadsheet from the year before,” Birney said, testifying this time for the defense.

Birney largely testified about the spreadsheets of supporting data he prepared, as well as the supporting data he cited from year to year.

Court was adjourned for the day following Birney’s testimony. He is set to return to the witness stand later this week after the court hears from witnesses from Deutsche Bank.

Nov 27, 5:59 PM EST
Trump exec disputes independent monitor’s findings

Trump Hotels chief operating officer Mark Hawthorn disputed an August 2023 report from the Trump Organization’s independent monitor that said the company continued to provide incomplete information to lenders.

Hawthorn had earlier testified that the monitor never communicated that they “uncovered fraud or any irregularities.”

State attorney Andrew Amer confronted Hawthorn with the letter from the Trump Organization’s independent monitor Barbara Jones flagging inconsistencies.

“Were you aware that Judge Jones had identified such inconsistencies?” Amer asked.

“Yes,” Hawthorn answered — but said that he stood by his initial statement that the monitor never uncovered fraud, claiming that the flagged issues were consistent with accounting practices.

“Did the monitor accuse the Trump Organization of disseminating false and misleading information?” defense attorney Clifford Robert asked on redirect examination.

“No,” Hawthorne said.

Trump defense attorney Chris Kise used the disagreement about the monitor’s findings to renew his request to question Jones, which Judge Engoron denied earlier in the afternoon.

“What the monitor thinks is clearly and squarely at issue,” Kise said, describing the Trump Organization’s issues as “minor accounting discrepancies which happen in a large corporation all the time.”

“Every time you talk, there’s a campaign speech,” Engoron quipped following Kise’s lengthy argument.

Engoron ultimately stood by his initial ruling, but said he would allow Kise to present cases, if they exist, supporting the defense’s right to call the monitor.

“I will decide what reports mean and what implications there are,” Engoron said about the monitor’s findings.

Nov 27, 3:44 PM EST
Donald Trump to return to witness stand in December

Defense lawyers plan to call Donald Trump as their final witnesses in the former president’s civil fraud trial.

Asked to confirm the final witnesses for the defense’s case, defense attorney Chris Kise said that Trump is likely to testify on Dec. 11.

“I think we can make that work,” Kise said, adding that Trump’s exact schedule might change.

Eric Trump will also return to the witness stand on Dec. 6, according to Kise.

Those dates might change if Judge Engoron limits testimony from any of the remaining witnesses.

State attorney Kevin Wallace said that the New York attorney general may present a “minimal” rebuttal case.

Nov 27, 2:43 PM EST
Judge blocks testimony from independent monitor

Judge Arthur Engoron blocked the defense team’s plan to call the Trump Organization’s independent monitor, describing the last-minute change to the defense’s witness list as “untimely” and “inappropriate.”

The judge’s ruling came after defense lawyer Clifford Robert announced the plan to call former federal Judge Barbara Jones and her associate to testify for the defense.

Before Engoron issuing his ruling from the bench, attorneys from both sides appeared to privately meet with the judge in his chambers.

“I hereby preclude their testimony,” Engoron said from the bench, regarding Jones and her associate.

Engoron said that he determined that Jones and her staff are effectively “arms of the court” and thus cannot be called to testify.

He also expressed concern that Jones’ testimony could create conflicts of interest that force her to step away from her role overseeing the Trump Organization’s finances.

Nov 27, 2:27 PM EST
Defense plans to call Trump Organization’s independent monitor

Donald Trump’s lawyers plan to call former federal Judge Barbara Jones — who has served as the Trump Organization’s independent monitor since 2022 — as a witness for the defense case, according to defense attorney Clifford Robert.

Jones was installed as the firm’s independent monitor last November at the request of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Though Jones was not originally included in the defense’s witness list, Robert flagged the change to the court near the end of the direct examination of Trump Hotels chief operating officer Mark Hawthorn.

Hawthorn testified that he has regularly met with Jones since her appointment, and that the two have a transparent and cooperative relationship.

“We believe everything they deemed as an objection we have responded to diligently and very accurately,” Hawthorn said. “No one from that team has ever communicated to us that they have uncovered fraud or any irregularities.”

Jones, however, wrote in an August 2023 report that the Trump Organization provided “incomplete” information and did not consistently provide necessary certifications to lenders, prompting Judge Engoron to chastise the defendants in his summary judgment order.

“Even with a preliminary injunction in place, and with an independent monitor overseeing their compliance, defendants have continued to disseminate false and misleading information while conducting business,” Engoron wrote.

Robert did not provide a timeline for when Jones might testify, and state attorney Andrew Amer reserved a right to object to the defense team calling Jones as a witness.

Nov 27, 1:53 PM EST
Threats against clerk are ‘just part of the game,’ said Trump lawyer

In their filing this morning arguing against the trial’s limited gag order, Trump attorneys Clifford Robert, Chris Kise, and Alina Habba downplayed Trump’s connection to the threats against Judge Engoron and his clerk, and argued that they do not justify the gag order’s limit on Trump’s constitutional right to free speech.

The arguments appeared to be foreshadowed by remarks made to reporters earlier this month by Habba, who has been a forceful voice for the former president both in and out of court.

“The president has never threatened her safety,” Habba said of Engoron’s clerk. “This is a high profile case, and unfortunately, this is what comes with it. There is not a day that I don’t get a threat. It’s just part of the game.”

“If she had a real threat, she should get off the bench and stop having her photograph taken, but she hasn’t done that,” Habba added.

Nov 27, 12:54 PM EST
Trump’s lawyers disavow threats against judge, clerk

Donald Trump’s lawyers, in a court filing this morning, doubled down on their criticism of the trial’s limited gag order while distancing Trump and his co-defendants from what they called the “vile and reprehensible” threats against Judge Arthur Engoron and his principal law clerk.

In a filing arguing against the limited gag order, defense lawyer Clifford Robert said that the attacks — which he said Trump neither condoned nor directed — do not justify the gag order’s unconstitutional restraint on Trump’s free speech.

“Respondents’ sole cognizable justification for the Gag Orders is that an unknown third party may react in a hostile or offensive manner to Petitioners’ speech,” Robert wrote.

While Robert characterized the threats as “disturbing, derogatory, and indefensible,” he argued that it could not be proven that Trump’s Truth Social post on Oct. 3 — which prompted the limited gag order prohibiting statements about the judge’s staff — led to an increase in threats. Trump and his lawyers have never called for violence, condoned the attacks, or encouraged threatening behavior, Robert said.

The threatening behavior “merits appropriate security measures,” Robert wrote. “However, it does not justify the wholesale abrogation of Petitioners’ First Amendment rights in a proceeding of immense stakes to Petitioners,” which Robert argued has been “compromised by the introduction of partisan bias on the bench.”

Nov 27, 11:58 AM EST
Eric Trump asked hotel exec to revamp firm’s outdated bookkeeping

Eric Trump needed help with the Trump Organization’s finances after the company’s chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was removed from his role following his indictment in 2021, according to Trump Hotels executive Mark Hawthorn.

According to Hawthorn’s testimony, the company relied on an outdated and inefficient approach to bookkeeping, including authorizing only three individuals — Weisselberg, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump — to write checks for the Trump Organization until as late as 2021.

Weisselberg signed most of the company’s disbursements, leaving Eric and Don Jr. in uncharted waters once Weisselberg was removed, Hawthorn said.

“He had a stack of checks [on his desk] to sign that was very high,” Hawthorn recalled regarding a summer 2021 meeting during which he said Eric Trump requested Hawthorn’s help applying his experience running Trump’s hotel division.

“Mark, how do you do this in the hotel division?” Eric asked, according to Hawthorn.

“We don’t do it like this,” Hawthorn said he replied.

The meeting, according to Hawthorn, prompted him to begin an effort to revise the Trump’s Organization’s bookkeeping policies to replicate his work in Trump’s hotel division, which he ran as its chief operating officer. Following Eric Trump’s request, he imposed a standardized paperless approach to bookkeeping, so entities could be compared on an “apples to apples basis,” Hawthorn testified.

Nov 27, 9:26 AM EST
Trump Organization execs to return to witness stand

Two current Trump Organization executives are scheduled to return to the witness stand today as part of the defense’s case as the trial resumes following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mark Hawthorn, Trump Hotels’ chief financial officer, initially testified for the state’s case in October. State attorney Andrew Amer used his testimony as an opportunity to highlight that the Trump Organization had a qualified accountant who could have worked on Trump’s statement of financial condition, instead of the top executives who had less accounting experience.

“If any of them had asked you to work with them on preparing Mr. Trump’s statement of financial condition, would you have had the knowledge and experience to do so?” Amer asked.

“Yes,” Hawthorn responded, adding he was never asked to assist with preparing the statements that are at the center of the attorney general’s case.

Patrick Birney, an assistant vice president at the Trump Organization who also testified in October, offered some of the only testimony that supports the attorney general’s allegation of a conspiracy to inflate Trump’s net worth.

“Did Allen Weisselberg ever tell you that Mr. Trump wanted his net worth on the statement of financial condition to go up?” state attorney Eric Haren asked Birney.

“Yes, I think that happened in Allen Weisselberg’s office,” Birney said, prompting an objection from Trump’s lawyers.

Nov 22, 5:28 PM EST
Judge, clerk subjected to daily threats, official says in gag order filing

An attorney for Judge Arthur Engoron also filed in support of the gag order in Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, arguing that violent threats have increased since the gag order was lifted.

The limited gag order, which prohibited Donald Trump and his attorneys from publicly commenting about Engoron’s staff, was issued by the judge last month after Trump posted about the judge’s law clerk on social media. Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s First Department stayed the order on Thursday, citing constitutional concerns over Trump’s free speech rights.

Engoron’s filing includes a report from Charles Hollon of the Judicial Threats Assessment Unit of the New York State Court System’s Department of Public Safety. According to the report, Engoron and his principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, have been inundated with credible, violent and antisemitic threats since Trump began criticizing Greenfield.

“The threats against Justice Engoron and Ms. Greenfield are considered to be serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative,” Hollon wrote in the report.

Greenfield has been the victim of daily doxing of her personal email address and phone number, receiving dozens of calls, emails and social media messages daily, according to Hollon. Approximately half the harassing messages have been antisemitic, according to Greenfield.

In the report, Hollon wrote that Engoron was the subject of credible threats before the trial had started, but Trump’s Oct. 3 Truth Social post directed at Greenfield exponentially increased the number of threats directed at her.

The report included multiple examples of voicemails that were left on the telephone in Engoron’s chambers.

Hollon said the messages have created an “ongoing security risk” for Engoron, his staff and family, but that the gag order had been effective in lowering the number of threats.

“The implementation of the limited gag orders resulted in a decrease in the number of threats, harassment and disparaging messages that the judge and his staff received,” Hollon said in the report. “However, when Mr. Trump violated the gag orders, the number of threatening, harassing and disparaging messages increased.”

Engoron’s lawyer, Lisa Evans, said the threats detailed in Hollon’s affirmation justify the gag order, which functions as a reasonable limit on free speech.

“The First Amendment does not prohibit courts from limiting speech that threatens the safety of the court’s staff,” Evans wrote.

Trump’s reply to the filing is due on Nov. 27, after which the First Department will decide whether to fully lift the gag order.

Nov 22, 4:53 PM EST
NY AG argues for limited gag order in court filing

A lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia James, in a court filing Wednesday, argued in favor of maintaining the judge’s limited gag after an appeals court temporarily lifted the order last week.

The limited gag order, which prohibited Donald Trump and his attorneys from publicly commenting about Judge Arthur Engoron’s staff, was issued by the judge last month after Trump posted about the judge’s law clerk on social media. Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s First Department stayed the order on Thursday, citing constitutional concerns over Trump’s free speech rights.

James’ court filing Wednesday alleges that Trump and his lawyers continue to harass Engoron’s law clerk “as part of an improper tactic to disrupt trial and undermine the proceedings.”

James said the gag order is a necessary and “exceedingly limited restraint” to protect Engoron’s staff, and Trump’s lawyers failed to prove that attacks on judicial staff during a trial are protected by the First Amendment.

“A speedy denial is necessary to ensure the safety of [the] Supreme Court’s staff and the integrity and the orderly administration of the proceedings through the end of the trial,” James wrote, describing Trump’s attacks as “extraordinary and dangerous.”

Arguing that Trump has engaged in a “pattern” of attacking civil servants involved in proceedings against him, James cited his attacks on the former lieutenant governor of Georgia, as well as officials in his federal election interference case. She also mentioned Trump’s renewed attacks against the clerk over the last week since the gag order was lifted, including calling for her prosecution, sharing an article suggesting she engaged in drug use, and describing her as “crooked and highly partisan.”

Trump’s lawyers have defended such attacks as constitutionally protected speech and argued that Engoron failed to articulate how the attacks present a “clear and present danger” to the clerk.

Trump personally sued Engoron last week using a provision of state law called Article 78, which is generally used to challenge New York government agencies. Trump unsuccessfully attempted to use an Article 78 proceeding on the eve of the trial to delay the proceeding; however, his most recent attempt successfully resulted in a temporary stay of the gag order.

Trump’s reply to the filing is due on Nov. 27, after which the First Department will decide whether to fully lift the gag order.

Nov 21, 3:27 PM EST
Court adjourns for extended Thanksgiving break

After two days of testimony for the defense, former Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney stepped off the witness stand.

Judge Arthur Engoron then adjourned court until Monday.

When court resumes after the Thanksgiving break, the defense plans to call two Trump Organization executives, followed by several Deutsche Bank employees.

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