Donald Trump has appeared in a New York civil fraud trial, claiming it distracts from his campaign to reclaim the White House in 2024. He criticizes a limited gag order imposed by a Washington judge in a separate criminal trial related to his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
Trump chose to appear at the trial, which he is not required to attend, as he has repeatedly used his legal woes as a campaign fundraising tool. He wore a dark blue suit and a U.S. flag pin on his lapel, lashing out at the Biden administration and claiming the case amounted to a political witchhunt. Trump’s legal troubles have resulted in a surge in money from small donors, helping him match the fundraising pace of Democratic President Joe Biden, who is seeking re-election.
Trump has been barred from publicly attacking U.S. prosecutors, court staff, and potential witnesses in a separate criminal case involving his 2020 election loss. The order, which does not apply to the civil case, was imposed by Justice Arthur Engoron after Trump attacked a court clerk on his Truth Social platform. The lawsuit by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges that Trump reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten savings by overstating the value of his properties in documents he provided to banks.
Donna Kidder, an accountant for the Trump Organization, resumed her testimony, describing the organization’s internal bookkeeping practices and financial statement preparation. Real estate appraiser Doug Larson also testified, valuing Trump’s 40 Wall Street property at nearly $200 million less than what he listed on financial documents.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in a case involving his Mar-a-Lago resort and other properties, claiming it is a “fraud.” He defended the valuations of his assets, including his Mar-a-Lago resort, stating they were “close to 100 times” what his office claimed. Former lawyer Michael Cohen is expected to testify next week.
The trial primarily focuses on damages, with James seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban on Trump and his sons from running businesses in New York, and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.