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Trump testifies in New York civil fraud trial

What we covered

  • Contentious testimony: Donald Trump testified under oath Monday in his New York civil fraud trial where he was pressed about the values of his properties — and his role in their appraisals. The former president leaned on the disclaimers in his financial statements as defense in the trial, and ramped up verbal attacks on the judge and New York attorney general when asked if values were overstated.
  • The lawsuit: The $250 million lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general's office alleges that Trump and his co-defendants committed repeated fraud in inflating assets on financial statements to get better terms on commercial real estate loans and insurance policies. The judge already ruled the former president is liable for fraud and he's considering how much the Trumps will have to pay in damages.
  • Why it matters: The case is civil, not criminal, but threatens Trump's business in New York. James is seeking to bar Trump from doing business in the state and to dissolve his companies. Trump’s testimony Monday serves as a precursor to the four criminal trials he faces next year as he campaigns to regain the presidency.
Our live coverage of Trump's testimony has ended. Read more in the posts below.
5:27 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Key takeaways from Trump’s day on the stand

In this courtroom sketch, former President Donald Trump testifies in New York Supreme Court on Monday. Christine Cornell

Donald Trump brought bombastic rhetoric to the witness stand Monday in the civil fraud case against him and his business, as he spent his time on the stand attacking the New York attorney general who brought the case and the judge overseeing the trial itself.

Trump’s testimony at times mimicked his appearances on the campaign trail, where the former president has made the four criminal cases against him – along with the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case – a central part of his argument to be elected president again in 2024.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who has clashed with Trump throughout the trial, at first tried to stop the former president’s political barbs and speechifying, telling his lawyer Chris Kise to “control your client” and threatening to have Trump removed as a witness. Eventually, the judge stropped trying to control Trump – he and the attorney general’s lawyer questioning Trump let him rant, and then mostly disregarded the missives.

The high-stakes civil case strikes at the heart of Trump’s brand – his real estate empire. New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump for $250 million and seeking to bar him from doing business in the state. Engoron has already ruled Trump and his co-defendants were liable for fraud. The New York attorney general’s office said they will rest their case after Ivanka Trump’s testimony on Wednesday.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Trump's day on the stand:
  • Trump's campaign comes to the courtroom: The former president’s rhetoric at times during his testimony might as well have been at one of his rallies in front of supporters. He went after the attorney general. The judge. And the “political witch hunt” that he’s been railing against for years now. On the witness stand, the charged rhetoric was even more remarkable, as he attacked the judge sitting right next to him, with James in the courtroom watching his testimony just feet away. “The fraud is on the court, not on me,” Trump said.
  • Trump gets an angry response from the judge: Judge Engoron tried at the outset of Trump’s testimony to stop the former president from making speeches and instead answer the questions, but it did little to change Trump’s approach. The judge responded by threatening to remove Trump from the witness stand, though that didn’t deter the former president either. “This is not a political rally,” Engoron said to Trump, telling Trump's attorney Christopher Kise to “control your client.”
  • Trump acknowledges changing valuation of Trump Tower triplex: The attorney general’s office pressed Trump on the properties central to his identity and brand: Mar-a-Lago, Trump Tower and other key parts of his real estate empire. The AG's office attorney Kevin Wallace also pressed Trump on why valuations of properties were changed, such as his Trump Tower triplex, which was devalued on his financial statement in 2017 after a Forbes article found he had dramatically exaggerated the size of the apartment. Trump acknowledged there had on occasion been mistakes, such as the Trump Tower apartment valuation.
  • Trump’s descriptions of his properties: The former president’s rhetorical flourishes went beyond attacking those who are investigating him. He also took the opportunity to play salesman and play up his properties. One of his chief complaints about the judge is a citation in his decision that Mar-a-Lago was worth $18 million, a number based on Florida tax appraisal records “It’s much more valuable,” Trump said of Mar-a-Lago, “and we’ll show that in two weeks or five weeks or nine weeks or whenever this thing goes, that it’s biggest value is using it as a club.” Wallace took the answer to pin him down on that valuation. “You believe that as of today Mar-a-Lago is worth $1.5 billion?” Wallace asked. “I think between a billion and a billion-five,” Trump responded.
Keep reading takeaways here.

3:58 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

New York attorney general slams "distractions" during Trump testimony

New York Attorney General Letitia James called Donald Trump's actions and attacks against her and Judge Arthur Engoron on the stand "distractions."

"At the end of the day, the documentary evidence demonstrated that, in fact, he falsely inflated his assets to basically enrich himself and his family," James said.

"He continued to persistently engage in fraud. The numbers don't lie, and Mr. Trump obviously can engage in all of these distractions, and that is exactly what he did, what he committed on the stand today, engaging in distractions, and engaging in name-calling," she said.

"But I will not be bullied, I will not be harassed, this case will go on," James said.

She said Trump on the stand "rambled, he hurled insults, but we expected that."

The attorney general said her office looks forward to hearing Ivanka Trump's testimony Wednesday and closing the case.

5:29 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Attorney general's office says they will rest their case after Ivanka Trump’s testimony

The New York attorney general’s office said they will rest their case after Ivanka Trump’s testimony.

Former President Donald Trump's daughter is set to testify on Wednesday. There is no court Tuesday, due to Election Day. 

The attorney general's office expects to finish the direct examination of Ivanka Trump by 2 or 3 p.m. ET in the afternoon Wednesday.

Trump attorney Chris Kise said if that's the case, they'll question her on cross-examination through Thursday morning.

Per protocol, the defense will make motions after the attorney general rests.

Judge Arthur Engoron told Trump’s attorneys they can plan to start the defense case on Monday.

Kise also told the court they're on track to finish a week early by December 15.

4:03 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump after taking stand says "I think it went very well"

Donald Trump said "I think it went very well" after the former president took the stand for nearly four hours Monday in the civil fraud trial brought by the New York attorney general against him and his company.

"I think you saw what I had to say today and it was very conclusive," Trump told reporters as he exited the courtroom. "Everything we did was absolutely right."

Trump also looked to place the case that he called a "scam" in the broader context of his campaign for president and attacked the attorney general's case.

"But, anyway, this is a case that should have never been brought and it's a case that should be immediately dismissed," he said before leaving.

3:41 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Judge and Trump lawyers debate motion for a mistrial

Donald Trump’s lawyers said they want to make a motion for a mistrial, getting into an extended debate with Judge Arthur Engoron about how they can raise the conduct of his clerk that’s subject to a gag order.

"We would at least need to reference the subject matter," Trump's attorney Chris Kise said.

Initially, Engoron told Trump’s lawyers they should not file such a motion that referenced his staff, saying he put the gag order in place to protect them.

"I am 1000% convinced that you don't have any right or reason to complain about my confidential communications,” Engoron said.

Trump’s attorneys, who have complained about Engoron’s note-passing with his clerk, claim it’s a sign of the trial’s bias and have urged Engoron to reconsider.

"You can't respectfully reject it before you've seen it," Kise said.

Trump attorney Alina Habba told the judge, "Obviously are going to be moving for a mistrial, that is part of the plan."

"We need to have an opportunity to be heard on those things that have not been yet heard,” Habba said.

After conferring with his clerk, Engoron changed course and said that Trump’s attorneys could file a motion, but he asked them to do it in writing.

Once they agreed on a course of action, Engoron joked, “See I knew it would be a love fest.”

Trump was sitting back in his chair at the defense table while the exchange was going on.

3:41 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump, attacking state of New York and Judge Engoron, says "I want a jury"

After a lengthy monologue from Donald Trump where he attacked the state of New York and said businesses are leaving because of cases “like his,” Kevin Wallace of the New York attorney general's office calmly said to the former president, "I promise you Mr. Trump I’m trying to get you off the stand."

"Great, I’m sure you are," Trump replied.

Trump complained of “election interference” and a “very hostile judge,” referring to Judge Arthur Engoron.

Trump then said, “I don’t have a jury. And I want a jury," he said.

Trump has complained about a lack of a jury throughout the trial.   

Experts have said his attorneys could have litigated a request for a jury ahead of the trial, although the chances that he would have gotten one were slim.
3:37 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump finishes testimony in fraud trial; Ivanka Trump to testify Wednesday

Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a break in proceedings at New York Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in New York. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP

Former President Donald Trump has stepped down from the stand after nearly four hours of testimony in the civil fraud trial against him and his company.

The next witness will be his daughter Ivanka Trump on Wednesday, after which the attorney general's office plans to rest its case.

Trump's attorney Chris Kise said he believes the trial should end in mid-December.

3:21 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump on whether he maintained accurate records from August 2014 onward: "I hope so"

In this courtroom sketch, former President Donald Trump testifies in New York Supreme Court on Monday. Christine Cornell

When asked by the Kevin Wallace of the New York attorney general's office whether he “maintained accurate books and records” from August 2014 going forward, Donald Trump said “I hope so.”

“I hope so, I didn’t keep them myself. I hope so,” Trump testified during his civil fraud trial Monday.

“You don’t know one way or the other?” Wallace asked.

“I assume so,” Trump said. “I have people. I pay them a lot of money, they’re accountants. I assume they keep good records.”
3:10 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

AG attorney teases Trump about his long-winded answers

During questioning from Kevin Wallace of the New York attorney general's office, Donald Trump went on a rant about how his net worth is “significantly higher” than the financial statements reported and also complained about the disclaimer clause that “goes on forever.”

Wallace then quipped, "That clause isn’t the only thing that goes on forever" referencing Trumps long-winded answers that have been the highlight of his testimony today.

Wallace got a reaction out of Trump by asking him whether he considers brand value part of his assets that cover the $2.5 billion.

The brand value is very substantial value. I didn’t even include that in the financial statements. I could have if I wanted to. If I was looking to build up the financial statement, I could put it in but I wasn’t looking to do that,” Trump replied.

Trump said as a total, some of his statements of financial condition are "much more."

He complained the loan documents were "ancient history."

"I don’t know how it doesn’t involve a statute of limitations," Trump says.

Trump adds it "seems ridiculous to me, but that’s ok, that’s how it’s working with this one."