Donald Trump Civil Fraud Trial: Here's What to Know as Case Nears End

By Jace Dela Cruz

Dec 16, 2023 03:26 AM EST

As former President Donald Trump's civil business fraud trial in New York heads toward its conclusion, here's an overview of the things we learned from the proceedings.

According to the Associated Press, over the past two and a half months, 40 witnesses have taken the stand in front of Judge Arthur Engoron, who expressed an almost wistful sentiment on Wednesday's last day of testimony, saying that he will "miss" the trial, "in a strange way."

Former President Trump And Fellow Conservatives Address Annual CPAC Meeting
(Photo : Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - AUGUST 06: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas

The Civil Business Fraud Trial of Donald Trump

New York Attorney General Letitia James has spearheaded the case, accusing Donald Trump of inflating his wealth on financial statements to secure loans and business deals. 

The judge has already ruled that the former president is liable for making fraudulent statements, but other claims and potential penalties are yet to be determined.

Closing arguments are scheduled for early January. Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing, asserting that the financial documents understated his net worth and included caveats protecting him from liability.

The trial offered unique insights into Trump's finances, revealing details about his interactions with lenders, aims to own an NFL team, and questionable financial practices. But despite legal challenges, Trump reportedly maintains a significant lead in 2024 Republican presidential polls.

READ ALSO: Donald Trump's Newest Venture: Selling NFT Trading Cards With Bits of His Mugshot Suit and Exclusive Dinner Invites 

Donald Trump Fined $15,000

Donald Trump was not required to appear in court except for the day he testified. However, he showed up eight times as a spectator, saying outside the courtroom that he was being persecuted and even insulted Arthur Engoron and the judge's chief law clerk.

That led to a frustrated judge to issue a warning. But the former president continued to make a false, disparaging remark about the clerk's personal life on social media, prompting Engoron to impose a gag order disallowing trial participants from commenting further about court personnel.

Trump then repeatedly violated the order, and when Engoron found out about it, he fined the former president $15,000.

Loans of Donald Trump at Deutsche Bank 

The trial focused on hundreds of millions of dollars Deutsche Bank loaned to Donald Trump's company since 2011 but was countered by the defendants' claims that the bank was delighted with the loans as all were eventually paid.

The trial also clearly shows that the bank's private wealth management division, which caters to wealthy people, was eager to lend to the former president.

According to the AP report, the bankers courted Trump as a "big-dollar whale of a client" who could connect them to the world's wealthiest people. The trial also revealed Trump's 2014 $1 billion bid to buy the Buffalo Bills. 

It was reportedly met with skepticism from the NFL due to his history of owning Atlantic City casinos and the New Jersey Generals in the league's rival United States Football League (USFL), which filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in 1986.

Trump Tower's alleged penthouse valuation discrepancies were also highlighted in the trial, with the former president's triplex being valued at three times its actual size in financial statements from 2012-2016.

The trial involves six claims, including conspiracy and insurance fraud, and James seeks penalties exceeding $300 million, along with a ban on Trump conducting business in New York. 

The trial is nearing its conclusion, and both parties have until January 5 to submit written arguments, and summations are set for January 11. Engoron intends to render a decision by the end of January, and Trump's legal team is gearing up to appeal Engoron's pretrial civil fraud ruling. 

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