The trial will continue despite Trump’s lawyers’ pleas for a verdict.
Former President Donald Trump currently has four indictments under his belt and is awaiting trial on all four of them. Three out of four are scheduled to take place in the spring of 2024. However, he is currently on trial in the state of New York over a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Letitia James. The lawsuit was filed on the grounds that Trump and his sons were responsible for the fraud conspiracies in which two of his sub-companies were convicted late last year. The $250 million lawsuit is being overseen by Judge Arthur Engoron, who already ruled in September that Trump and his associates have committed business fraud by manipulating and inflating the values of his property. The current civil trial is to determine whether or not any additional illegal acts were committed, and thus whether any other penalties are necessary. Should Trump be further convicted, there is a low chance of him facing any prison time.
James, the main plaintiff on behalf of the people of the state of New York, took office in 2019 and has been investigating Trump and the Trump Organization, filing a number of lawsuits in collaboration with the Democratic Party. Trump has stated that this has been a politically motivated witch hunt. So far, the consequences of the trial have already been damaging to Trump’s business empire. He has already twice violated, and been fined as a result, the enforced gag orders by making hurtful comments towards Engoron’s staff; five of his defense lawyers have been fined $7,500 each due to repetitive arguments; Engoron ordered the rescission of some of Trump’s business licenses, which would take away Trump’s ability to make business decisions over his largest properties in the state. Trump and the other defendants continue to plead innocence.
Throughout the trial following the ruling, Trump and his attorneys have been making violent and angry remarks towards Engoron’s staff, despite the judge’s warnings. When Trump testified this past Monday, Engoron demanded his lawyer control him, with some observing Trump’s rhetorical practices similar to his campaign rallies. Throughout his testimony, Trump stated that the worth of his separate businesses had not been falsified. This is one among many other statements that Judge Engoron has said does not correspond to the questions that have been asked of the former president.
As the trial is not being televised, there have been several post-trial interviews in the courthouse in which Trump repeats his opinions, berating the judicial staff while saying that the trial is ridiculous. He believes that the lawsuit is based in politics, and only seeks to suggest that he is worth less than he claims; “I’m worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements,” he stated on Monday while on the stand.
At one point, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was a defendant. She has since been removed as a defendant and is now a witness; she testified this past Wednesday. Although she has collaborated in both the White House and the Trump empire as an executive assistant, she testified that she had no role in his personal financial statements. Out of Trump’s children, two of his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., are also defendants who could face further penalties pending the trial results. Both his sons testified the week before their father did; Eric claims both a lack of memory with processes and no involvement with the businesses’ financial statements, while Donald Trump Jr. testified that he only dealt with financial statements in passing and would rely on external assistants to verify documents.
The trial is slated to continue until the end of December, but Trump’s lawyers have pleaded with Judge Engoron to end the trial early by issuing a verdict that would clear all defendants of any wrongdoing. They claim that the state has failed to prove its case and that there have been no victims as a result of the fraud that the lawsuit is grounded on. In response, Engoron stated that the trial will resume on Monday.