Former President Trump Faces Testimony in High-Stakes Civil Case
Former President Trump Takes the Stand in New York Civil Case
Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to provide testimony on Monday in a New York civil case that poses a significant threat to his real estate empire and financial standing as he pursues a return to the White House in the upcoming year.
The 77-year-old Republican is set to appear in court at 10:00 am (1500 GMT), alongside Judge Arthur Engoron, who presides over the case and has faced repeated criticism from Trump, who has referred to him as “unhinged” and a “Trump-hating radical left, Democrat operative.”
Engoron responded to Trump’s criticism by imposing two fines on the former president, one for $5,000 and another for $10,000. These fines were imposed after Trump violated a partial gag order by criticizing the judge’s clerk on social media.
In the courtroom adorned with a fading mural celebrating the 1683 adoption of the “Charter of Liberties,” Trump will be sworn in and subjected to questioning, following in the footsteps of his two eldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric, who testified the previous week.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has alleged that the Trump Organization inflated the value of its assets by billions of dollars in order to secure more favorable bank loans and insurance terms.
While Trump is known for his confrontational public persona, it is expected that he will adopt a more conservative line of defense when testifying, similar to the approach taken by his sons. He is likely to argue that accountants were responsible for verifying the accuracy of the company’s financial statements.
Trump has already provided testimony twice in connection with this case, both times in closed-door settings. In excerpts from his first deposition, he characterized the proceedings as “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” and labeled the Democratic attorney general as an “out of control prosecutor.” In his second deposition, he argued that the entire case was “crazy” because the banks had been compensated and profited from his business.
While Trump and his sons do not face the prospect of incarceration, they could be subject to penalties of up to $250 million and potential removal from the management of the family company.
Even before the commencement of opening arguments, Judge Engoron ruled that the Attorney General’s office had presented “conclusive evidence” that Trump had inflated his net worth on financial documents by a range of $812 million to $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021. Consequently, the judge ordered the liquidation of companies overseeing the assets in question, including the Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street skyscrapers in Manhattan, and the luxurious Seven Springs private estate in the suburbs. This order is currently pending appeal, but it underscores the high stakes for the former president.
Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter, who left the Trump Organization in 2017 to become a White House advisor to her father, is not a co-defendant in the case but has also been summoned to testify, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
Trump, considered the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has made sporadic appearances during the New York trial. He has used these appearances to portray himself as the victim of what he contends is a Democratic conspiracy aimed at derailing his White House campaign.
This civil fraud trial is just one of several legal battles that Trump is facing as he strives to regain the presidency. In March, he is expected to appear in federal court in Washington for the start of his trial on charges related to conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden. Trump was impeached twice during his time in the White House but was not convicted on either occasion.