Former President Trump Plans to Testify in N.Y. Attorney General James’ Civil Trial

Former President Donald Trump said he will take the witness stand in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil lawsuit “at the appropriate time.”

The former president is on the witness lists of James’ prosecution and defense. 

“Yes, we will,” testify said Trump in remarks during the Tuesday trial’s lunch break on Day Two, “at the appropriate time we will be. I think it’s going very well.” 

“There was absolutely no fraud,” said Trump, rebuking James as corrupt. “They all made money. They’re all happy, 100% happy.”

Trump repeated the earlier remarks he made in the morning about the “buyer beware” disclaimer at the end of the financial statements. 

“It says, ‘Please, you must understand that you have to do your own due diligence and you have to, above all, do your own research and analysis: Do not rely on anything; do not rely on the financial statements,” added Trump. “Also, the financial statements are very strong in terms of cash liquidity and everything else.”

“This case is a scam. There can’t be fraud when you’ve told institutions to do their own work. This case is a fraud and scam.”

Judge Arthur Engoron set the record state in the courtroom about a comment that the ex-president had touted as a significant victory. 

On Monday, Engoron suggested that testimony about the former president’s 2011 financial statement might be beyond the legal time limit that applies to James’ lawsuit. It alleges that Trump and his business chronically lied about his wealth on financial statements given to insurers, banks, and others.

The relevant statute of limitations rules out claims related to activities before a date in 2014, and former President Trump’s legal team has argued that the time limit cuts off the majority of the case.

On Tuesday, Engoron said the “statutes of limitations bar claims, not evidence,” at the trial’s early stage, he is inclined to give both sides considerable leeway to connect earlier evidence to lawsuit claims. 

“I want to emphasize: This trial is not an opportunity to relegate what I have decided,” said Engoron.

Last week, he ruled that all the claims were allowed under the statute of limitations.

An attorney for James’ office, Kevin Wallace, suggested he utilized the 2011 document to show the former president’s financial statements were prepared in the same manner — giving his company and him the final say over the valuations that appeared — for at least a decade.

Donald Bender, an accountant who prepared the financial statements for years, testified that Trump’s company supplied the numbers that went into the documents. Every spreadsheet was marked “PBC,” for “prepared by the client,” in red, large letters,” said Bender. 

Trump: “This case is a scam”

Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, said during a break in court that he thought the trial was “going very well.” He emphasized crucial points of his defense, including that the financial statements had disclaimers saying they weren’t audited and that others “might reach different conclusions” about his financial situation if they had more information.

“This case is a scam. It can’t be fraud when you’ve told institutions to do their own work,” said Trump in his remarks on his lunch break. 

After Monday’s occasionally fiery opening statements, Tuesday’s testimony was so slow-going that twice Bender let out a long breath on the stand.

The former president plans to testify later in the trial but doesn’t have to attend it now. While grumbling that he would rather be on the campaign trail, the GOP former president and 2024 Republican front-runner has used the waiting cameras in the courthouse hallway as a microphone for political messaging. He claims that James, who is a Democrat, is using the justice system as a political weapon to hobble his ongoing campaign.

The non-jury trial involves six remaining claims in the lawsuit and how much the former president might owe in penalties. James is seeking $250 million and a ban on Trump conducting business in New York. The judge has already ruled that some of the former president’s companies should be dissolved as a penalty.

Trump’s lawyers said the financial statements were genuine representations of the worth of one-of-a-kind luxury properties made more valuable because of their ties to Trump. 

The trial is predicted to last into December.