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Trump set to testify in New York fraud trial with business empire at stake

Written by on November 6, 2023

Donald Trump and lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) office will face off this week when the former president is expected to take the stand in the fraud case jeopardizing his business empire.

His testimony marks an unprecedented turn in U.S. history where a former president and current White House candidate must defend himself on trial and in the shadow of a host of other legal troubles. However, that seems to have had little effect among GOP primary voters throwing their support behind Trump, who is consistently polling with double-digit leads ahead of his challengers among that contingent of likely voters.

Still, the former president’s fury over the probe into his business has been on full display — both online and in fiery stump speeches in the Manhattan courthouse’s hallways — throughout which he has derided James as “corrupt,” “racist” and complicit in “prosecutorial misconduct.”

At stake are Trump’s business licenses and the potential for him to lose control of some of his famed properties — not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars in financial penalties as requested by the New York attorney general’s office. His career as a Manhattan real estate and business mogul is part of what propelled him to the White House in 2016.

James’s office sued Trump, some of his adult children and their business last year for $250 million, claiming they falsely inflated and deflated the value of the Trump Organization’s assets to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage.

Before the trial even began, Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump, the Trump Organization and other defendants in the case, including Trump’s two eldest sons, liable for fraud. Trump’s legal team has appealed that decision.

Trump has displayed his frustration throughout the trial by shaking his head, whispering to his attorneys during testimony and staring daggers into his rivals. At one point, after Engoron issued a ruling against him, Trump stormed out of the courtroom in a huff.

Trump’s testimony over his business dealings could prove just as contentious.

“One of the challenges for the lawyers in this case is … making him neither the kingmaker nor the victim,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University. “He is another businessman in New York who has to comply with the rules and didn’t.”

Lawyers from James’s office will likely be looking at Trump’s testimony for information on who is responsible for the Trump Organization’s fraud, Levenson said.

“One of the challenges for the lawyers in this case is … making him neither the kingmaker nor the victim,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University. “He is another businessman in New York who has to comply with the rules and didn’t.”

Lawyers from James’s office will likely be looking at Trump’s testimony for information on who is responsible for the Trump Organization’s fraud, Levenson said.


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