• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Trump civil fraud trial in New York begins

Trump civil fraud trial in New York begins

Kevin Wallace, an attorney for the New York Attorney General’s office, charged that each of the defendants in Donald Trump’s civil case, including the former president, participated in or had knowledge of the information in the fraudulent financial statements and conspired to commit persistent and repeated fraud.

Wallace urged the judge in his opening statement to bar Trump from doing business in New York. He alleged that Trump’s fraudulent financial statements convinced banks to take on hidden risk “to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.” 

“While it may be one thing to exaggerate for Forbes magazine… you cannot do it while conducting business in the state of New York,” Wallace said concluding his opening statement.

“Year after year, loan after loan, the defendants misrepresented Mr. Trump’s net worth to maintain those favorable interest rates,” he noted.

The attorney general’s office has alleged that Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion in three separate years between 2011 and 2021. Attorneys for Trump have refuted the claims, arguing that asset valuations are highly subjective. 

In his opening statement, Wallace used video clips of depositions from Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s former longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

Trump’s lawyers objected to the use of these video clips from depositions, but the judge overruled their objection. 

Wallace played clips of Trump’s eldest sons, Allen Weisselberg and Trump who all distanced themselves from the preparation of the statements of financial condition in their testimony.  

In a clip from Trump’s deposition, he was asked if Allen Weisselberg oversaw the statement’s preparation. “I would say yes,” Trump said.

“The defendants are left to answer the question, were you lying then or are you lying now,” Wallace said.

Wallace also played a clip of Michael Cohen’s deposition addressing the years he helped prepare the documents. 

Cohen said Weisselberg would take inflated asset valuations from Trump and adjust the statements of financial condition to accommodate Trump’s assertions.

Trump was looking forward during the opening, not at Wallace who is speaking on his right. He had a screen at his table to watch the clips that were played in the courtroom.

Trump attorney Chris Kise is now giving his opening statement.

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