Trump testifies in New York civil fraud trial

By Dan Berman, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, Mike Hayes and Jack Forrest, CNN

Updated 8:04 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023
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8:44 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump slams civil fraud case ahead of court testimony 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former President Donald Trump on Monday was posting on Truth Social ahead of his expected testimony in his New York civil fraud case and continued to try to undermine the premise of the case brought against him by the New York attorney general. 

"Getting ready to head to the Downtown Lower Manhattan Courthouse to testify in one of the many cases that were instigated and brought by my POLITICAL OPPONENT, Crooked Joe Biden, through agencies and surrogates, for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE," Trump posted on Truth Social. 

The former president said the case has "zero merit" and called it a "witch hunt."

More on the case: Judge Arthur Engoron already ruled before the trial began last month that Trump and his co-defendants, including his adult sons, were liable for “persistent and repeated” fraud. Now the judge is considering how much the Trumps will have to pay in damages for the profits they’ve allegedly garnered through fraudulent business practices.

The attorney general’s office is also looking to prove six other claims, including falsifying business records and conspiracy to falsify business records.

8:34 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Judge overseeing Trump’s civil fraud trial expanded the gag order on Friday

From CNN’s Kara Scannell

Justice Arthur Engoron presides over the former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 2, in New York. 
Justice Arthur Engoron presides over the former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 2, in New York.  Jeenah Moon/Pool/Getty Images

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial expanded the gag order in the trial to extend to Trump’s attorneys after they raised multiple questions about the judge’s communications with his law clerk. 

In a written order Friday, Judge Arthur Engoron prohibited Trump’s attorneys from making any further comments about confidential communications between the judge and his staff inside or outside of the courtroom.

“Since the commencement of this bench trial, my chambers have been inundated with hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters and packages. The First Amendment right of defendants and their attorneys to comment on my staff is far and away outweighed by the need to protect them from threats and physical harm,” the judge wrote.

The judge said violating the order would result in “serious sanctions.”

3:05 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Ivanka Trump is scheduled to testify Wednesday after withdrawing appeal of judge’s order

From CNN's Kara Scannell and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn

Ivanka Trump on Friday withdrew her appeal of a judge’s order requiring her to testify at her father’s civil fraud trial next week after an appellate court refused to pause her testimony.

She is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Ivanka Trump’s testimony comes after she was previously dismissed as a co-defendant in the New York case against former President Donald Trump, two of his adult sons and his company. Multiple attempts by her legal team to delay her testimony have been rebuffed.

On Thursday night, an appeals court denied Ivanka Trump’s request to postpone her testimony until her lawyers could make arguments before the panel that she shouldn’t be required to appear. She had also asked the court to pause the entire fraud trial.

The former president’s eldest daughter had claimed she would suffer “undue hardship” if she were made to testify during the school week, as she lives in Florida with three minor children. Her team has also argued that the New York civil court has no jurisdiction to compel her testimony since she is no longer a defendant in the lawsuit and does not live in New York state. New York Judge Arthur Engoron previously rejected those arguments.

Her attorneys, in dropping the appeal Friday, said it is now “moot” because she is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before she can make her legal arguments.

Ivanka Trump’s brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, appeared in court last week. Both men helped run the Trump Organization while their father was in the White House. The former president is slated to testify on Monday.

3:05 p.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Analysis: Trump heads to the witness stand as the latest polls show him leaping past Biden in key swing states

From CNN's Stephen Collinson

Former President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York on October 24.
Former President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York on October 24. Mike Segar/Pool/Reuters

A year away from Election Day 2024, former President Donald Trump is set to testify in a civil fraud trial and separately faces more than 90 criminal charges, setting up the possibility that a convicted felon tops the Republican ticket next November.

But it’s President Joe Biden’s political prospects that are plunging.

In another extraordinary twist to a 2024 campaign season that is more notable for court hearings than treks through early voting states, Trump is expected to be called to the witness stand in New York on Monday. This is hardly typical activity during a post-presidency. But Trump was, after all, the most unconventional president.

Biden, meanwhile, is absorbing brutal new polls showing him losing to GOP front-runner Trump in multiple key swing states. The numbers will likely ignite panic among Democrats and renew doubts among Americans that the soon-to-be-81-year-old is up to a full second term. If the New York Times/Siena College survey is borne out in 2024, there would be no electoral path to victory for Biden. And an increasingly authoritarian Trump – who is promising a second term of “retribution” – could pull off a White House comeback in spite of sparking a Capitol insurrection with his false claims of electoral fraud in 2020.

“I was concerned before these polls, and I’m concerned now,” Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“These presidential races over the last couple of terms have been very tight. No one is going to have a runaway election here. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, concentration, resources. And so we have our work cut out for us.”

The coinciding crises facing both Trump and Biden belie the fact that, for all their deficiencies, neither is yet to face a serious challenger from within their parties as they seek the nomination.

Biden’s position is weakening as he tackles cascading global threats such as the war in the Middle East, sheds support over his handling of the economy and sees cracks in the multiracial coalition that first elected him. It also reflects a nation that is divided and disconsolate, and groping for the elusive normality that the president promised three years ago after the pandemic and the historic turbulence of the Trump administration.

Keep reading here.

8:39 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Has a former president ever given testimony in his own civil trial?

From CNN's Zachary Wolf

In this 1915 photo from the Onondaga Historical Association shows Theodore Roosevelt in Syracuse, New York, during the William Barnes vs. Theodore Roosevelt libel suit.
In this 1915 photo from the Onondaga Historical Association shows Theodore Roosevelt in Syracuse, New York, during the William Barnes vs. Theodore Roosevelt libel suit. From the Onondaga Historical Association

When Donald Trump takes the stand in his New York civil fraud trial Monday, it won’t be the first time a former president will have given testimony in his own defense in a lawsuit.

Teddy Roosevelt did it twice more than a hundred years ago, both when he sued a Michigan newspaper that accused him of being a drunk and later when he was sued by a fellow New York Republican whom Roosevelt had called a corrupt political boss.

Roosevelt won both cases. Trump, by contrast, has already been found liable for fraud by the judge in New York.

Those Roosevelt trials, separated by two years, were each sensational at the time, and they came after Roosevelt’s final campaign for the White House, when he placed second to Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912 after splitting with Republicans and running as a Progressive.

Trump, on the other hand, is very much still in the arena, and his legal strategy in a slew of civil and criminal cases is tied to his concurrent presidential campaign. He has argued that two gag orders – the one issued against him by a federal judge in Washington, DC, and the other by the civil trial judge in New York – hinder his ability to speak as a candidate.

8:42 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump is expected to be pressed on his properties

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

People walk by The Trump Building office building at 40 Wall Street in New York City on Friday, November 3.
People walk by The Trump Building office building at 40 Wall Street in New York City on Friday, November 3. Ted Shaffrey/AP

Much of the questioning of Donald Trump on Monday is expected to involve the properties that are the backbone of his business, including the 40 Wall Street building in New York, Trump National Doral Miami golf course and resort, Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, and the Old Post Office project in Washington, DC. The attorney general has also alleged Trump inflated the value of his triplex apartment in Trump Tower.

And perhaps most importantly: The tax status and value of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida are at issue in the case.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to a line in the judge’s September ruling that Mar-a-Lago was worth $18 million to argue the decision was fatally flawed.

In court, Trump’s attorney Alina Habba claimed that Mar-a-Lago would sell for at least $1 billion. “The value is what someone is willing to pay. The Trump properties are Mona Lisa properties,” Habba said.

The $18 million valuation, based on a tax assessor’s appraisal, has been questioned by real estate insiders. Engoron said in court he was not valuing the property in his decision.

But the Mar-a-Lago valuation is just one of the instances in which Trump is likely to push back against claims that the values of his properties were inflated.

9:30 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump was forced to briefly take the stand last month and was fined for violating gag order

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle

Former President Donald Trump is set to testify this morning in the New York civil fraud trial against him.

Last month, the former president briefly took the stand when Judge Arthur Engoron wanted to hear directly from him after Trump had apparently spoken about Engoron’s law clerk — in violation of the judge’s gag order.

The judge briefly paused the New York civil fraud trial testimony and said he was “going to hold a hearing right now” on the matter and would call his first witness: Donald J. Trump.

Engoron asked Trump if he would like to be on the witness stand.

Trump didn’t hesitate, pushing back his seat at the defense table instantly to stand and walk into the witness box. Wearing a blue tie, pinstripe shirt and navy suit, Trump raised his right hand and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Trump’s surprise appearance as a witness under questioning from the judge was an astonishing moment even in a year of unprecedented firsts for a former president who has been indicted four times and now faces the prospect of criminal trials all playing out while he runs for the White House in 2024.

This episode — where Trump’s alleged violation of a gag order by attacking his perceived opponents could, in theory, have led to his imprisonment — was a stark reminder of the difficulty he will face navigating his campaign rhetoric with the legal realities and constraints of the courtroom.

Once Trump was on the stand, Engoron put on his lawyer hat and launched into a calm interrogation of the former president, reading back what Trump had told reporters outside the courtroom only hours earlier.

“This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him — perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” Trump had said.

Before lunch, Trump’s lawyers claimed his statement was not about the judge’s clerk, but about Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the witness who had also been sitting next to the judge. It was a claim that strained credulity, given Trump’s previous attacks.

But Engoron wanted to hear it directly from Trump.

“To whom were you referring,” Engoron asked Trump about his comments in the hallway.
“You and Cohen,” Trump said.
“Are you sure you didn’t mean the person on the other side?” Engoron asked, a reference to his clerk, who was still seated, keeping a straight face, just to his right.
“Yes,” I’m sure,” Trump responded.

Following additional exchanges, and after Trump took a seat, Engoron said he was fining the former president $10,000 for his comments.

During the first week of the trial, Engoron enforced a gag order barring parties from speaking about his staff, in response to a social media post from Trump attacking Engoron’s clerk and showing a picture of her with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

Trump had already been fined last week $5,000 because his post hadn’t been taken down from his website, something his lawyers said was inadvertent, and warned there would be more severe penalties for additional violations – even threatening imprisonment.

Read more about Trump's courtroom appearance.

9:31 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023

Trump and company saved $168 million in loan interest as a result of fraud, banking expert testifies

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

A banking expert testified last Wednesday that Donald Trump and his company benefited more than $168 million by obtaining favorable loan terms on transactions where the former president personally guaranteed the loans.

The New York Attorney General’s office called Michiel McCarty to testify about his assessment of the $168 million in ill-gotten gains.

McCarty analyzed the lending documents related to transactions at issue in this case for the following Trump Organization properties: 40 Wall Street in New York, The Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Florida, Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, and the Old Post Office project in Washington DC.

McCarty calculated the difference in interest payments that Trump might have paid with a commercial real estate loan that would have had a much higher interest rate than the rate he obtained by personally guaranteeing the loans on the basis of financial statements that inflated his net worth.

He determined the Trump Organization saved on interest for the properties:

  • $72,908,308 for the Doral Resort
  • $53,423,209 for the Old Post Office loan
  • $17,443,359 for Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago
  • $24,265,291 for 40 Wall Street

Trump’s attorney Chris Kise argued repeatedly in objections that the expert should not be permitted to suggest what loan rate Trump Org. could have gotten because no trial evidence has shown the lenders would have changed the loan terms if they knew Trump’s net worth was inflated based on the asset valuation in his financial statements.

Judge Arthur Engoron overruled the defense objections, reminding Kise of the summary judgment that already found Trump and his company liable for fraud before the trial started.

Read more here.