Trump’s civil fraud trial: four key moments

Trump’s civil fraud trial: four key moments

Trump’s civil fraud trial: four key moments By Reuters

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Published Jan 11, 2024 06:19AM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he attends a campaign event, in Clinton, Iowa, U.S., January 6, 2024. REUTERS/Cheney Orr/File Photo

By Jack Queen

(Reuters) – Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York is set to conclude with closing arguments on Thursday, as the state’s attorney general seeks nearly $370 million in penalties from the former U.S. president for overstating his net worth to banks.

Here are key moments from the trial against the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.


Trump took the witness stand twice, denying the allegations in rambling and defiant testimony that often strayed into inflammatory personal attacks against New York Attorney General Letitia James, an elected Democrat.

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said any discrepancies on his financial statements would have been irrelevant to lenders who were eager to do business with him and profited from their deals.

He also raised his voice and called the judge presiding over the trial to his right a “fraud.” Later, Trump tried to read from a piece of paper he pulled from his pocket and said it would exonerate him.

“I’m shocked,” Trump said sarcastically when Justice Arthur Engoron shut him down.

While facing questions about his net worth and the value of his assets, Trump tested Engoron’s patience by rambling about his wealth, the beauty of his properties and his grievances with the justice system.

“Can you control your client?” Engoron asked Trump’s lawyer. “This is not a political rally. This is a courtroom.”


On just the second day of trial, Engoron rebuked Trump and issued a gag order barring him from speaking publicly about court staff after he posted a picture of Engoron’s top clerk on social media and accused her of political bias.

Engoron later said in an order that the post left the court “inundated with hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters, and packages.”

Engoron twice fined Trump for violating the order, for a total of $15,000. He also expanded the order to cover Trump’s attorneys after they repeatedly complained about what they said was the clerk’s disrespectful demeanor while seated next to Engoron.


Testimony by Michael Cohen offered a tense reunion between Trump and his one-time lawyer and fixer, who had not seen each other in person for five years since their acrimonious break.

Cohen testified that his former boss directed him to fabricate property valuations to reverse-engineer his desired net worth.

“He would say, ‘I’m actually not worth $4.5 billion, I’m really worth more like 6 (billion),” Cohen said, adding that Trump arrived at the valuations of his assets “arbitrarily.”

Trump’s lawyers went on the offensive during cross-examination, accusing Cohen of making up lies about Trump to sell books and drive traffic to his podcast.

They also called him a “serial liar,” hammering him on the details of his 2018 guilty pleas to a raft of felony charges including tax fraud and lying to Congress.


Trump’s three adult children also testified about their roles in the family real estate business.

Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump all sought to distance themselves from their father’s financial statements, saying they had little to no involvement in preparing them while running the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for their father’s many business interests.

Donald Jr.’s genial, sometimes self-deprecating testimony stood in contrast to the aggressive persona he assumes in political appearances. “Make me look sexy,” he told the courtroom sketch artist as he left the witness stand.

Eric struck a more defiant tone and often grew frustrated as the state’s lawyers questioned him about meetings and calls that seemed to show he was not being forthcoming about his role in his father’s financial statements.

Ivanka, who unlike her brothers is not a defendant in the case, was courteous but frustrated a lawyer for the state, who said she seemed to selectively remember the majestic flourishes of her father’s properties but not basic details about their financing.

Trump’s civil fraud trial: four key moments

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