Former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial commenced on Monday in New York, led by Attorney General Letitia James, who seeks over $250 million in fines. The Attorney General is also pushing for a permanent ban on Trump, as well as his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, from engaging in business activities in the state, along with a five-year prohibition on their involvement in commercial real estate ventures.
The case centers on accusations that Trump inflated the value of his assets and net worth between 2011 and 2021 to secure favorable bank loans and reduce insurance premiums. James asserts that Trump exaggerated the value of properties such as his Trump Tower penthouse and Mar-a-Lago estate, inflating his total wealth by an estimated $2.2 billion.
Trump vehemently disputes these charges, characterizing them as a politically motivated vendetta orchestrated by James. He also leveled criticism at the presiding judge, Arthur Engoron, accusing him of bias and attempting to influence the 2024 presidential election.
The trial’s first witness, Donald Bender, a longstanding accountant for Trump’s enterprises, testified in court. Bender maintained that the financial figures he employed for Trump’s statements were supplied by Trump and his companies.
While initial arguments have been presented, the trial is expected to feature expert testimonies on financial documentation and is projected to continue through early December. Over 150 individuals, including Trump’s former personal lawyer turned adversary, Michael Cohen, could be called to provide testimony.
Trump finds himself entangled in numerous legal battles, including criminal charges related to his efforts to contest the 2020 election results. These legal entanglements have not only imposed a significant financial burden but also mark Trump as the first sitting or former U.S. president to face criminal charges.
Throughout these trials, Trump maintains his innocence and has pleaded not guilty to all allegations.