Day 1 Concludes–4:30 p.m.
The first day of the civil case against President Trump concluded around 4:30 p.m.
During President Trump’s remarks at lunch, he signaled he may be attending other days as well.
Accountant Testifies–4 p.m.
Donald Bender, former Mazars accountant who prepared tax documents and did accounting for Trump Organization, said the numbers and standards he used were largely set by Trump Organization executives, according to media reports.
“That was the Trump Organization’s responsibility,” he said. He said the annual statements contained a warning to recipients that he did not independently verify the figures.
He said about half his time was spent on Trump Organization and spent a lot of time at Trump Towers offices.
First Witness Sworn In–3 p.m.
Donald Bender, former partner at international audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars’s USA brach, was sworn in as the first witness from the prosecution’s side, according to media reports.
From 2009 to 2018, Mr. Bender prepared President Trump’s personal tax returns, and reported losses every year. The losses were huge, he had said, totaling $1 billion in just a period of two years. Mazars stopped working with Trump Organization in February 2022.
Last year, Mr. Bender testified in court during a criminal case against two companies under the Trump Organization umbrella , accusing its top executives with avoiding income taxes. President Trump was not charged in the case and did not testify or attend the jury trial.
In the criminal case, Mr. Bender had accepted a plea bargain, testifying before a grand jury in exchange for immunity.
On Monday, he testified that from 2011 to 2021, the period in question in the fraud case, he did accounting for Trump Organization.
Trump Blasts Judge, Speaks to Press–1:30 p.m.
President Trump had not attended his other civil trial and did not speak to reporters in previous arraignments.
Asked why he has come to attend day one of his trial, he said, “Because I want to watch this witch hunt myself. I’ve been on their witch hunt for years, but this is now really getting dirty.”
During the lunch break, he made another speech, holding up an article by The Sun that quoted Florida real estate professionals saying county assessor data is not the same as valuation.
He also blasted the judge for not taking into account a June appeals court decision.
Judge Takes Issue With ‘$18 Million’ Valuation of Mar-a-Lago
President Trump had pointed out the “$18 million” figure in the judge’s summary judgment last week, which quoted county assessor numbers compared to the value President Trump had placed on Mar-a-Lago, his “winter White House” in Palm Beach, Florida.
It was widely reported that the judge had valued the resort as low as $18 million, when President Trump said it was worth “50 to 100 times” that.
In the courtroom, Justice Arthur Engoron took issue with that description.
“Please, press, stop saying that I valued it at $18 million,” Justice Engoron said. He said there were easements on Mar-a-Lago that weren’t taken into account in President Trump’s valuation of the property, which accounted for his ruling of fraud.
The valuation of President Trump’s properties was the subject of the opening arguments, which finished in under two hours, less than half the time allotted.
Opening Arguments–10:30 a.m.
Kevin Wallace with the New York Attorney General’s office presented opening arguments first, mentioning the judge’s recent ruling that President Trump was liable for fraud, inflating his net worth by $812 million to $2.2 billion each year between 2011 and 2021.
He played videos of depositions of Michael Cohen, previously a personal attorney for President Trump who later accused him of crimes; former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg; Trump Organization executive Patrick Birney; as well as the defendants Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and President Trump himself.
The prosecutors are seeking disgorgement of the difference between the regular commercial loan rate and the favorable rates the Trump Organization obtained.
Attorney Christopher Kise, representing President Trump, argued that the conspiracy counts the prosecution has put forth as based on testimonies from Mr. Cohen, who he called a “serial liar.” Mr. Kise noted that Mr. Cohen was convicted of perjury before Congress, where he had first publicly accused President Trump of criminal and unethical actions.
The defense stressed that the Trump Organization’s financial statements were not “materially false,” and that “estimated current value is not the same as “fair value” or “market value.”
Mr. Kise also noted that banks indeed did their own analyses and came to lower valuations, but still proceeded with granting the loans.
“This is what happens every day” in real estate baking, he said. In one case, Deutsche Bank arrived at a higher number. “That doesn’t make the bank’s number fraudulent any more than it makes the defendants’ number fraudulent.”
The defense plans to call four witnesses from Deutsche Bank to testify that the bank was not defrauded, and call NYU professor Eli Bartov to testify on the real estate valuations. They argue that President Trump was “overqualified” for the loans and should not have to pay back the difference between the rates offered to the Trump Organization and the market loan rate.
Attorney Alina Habba added that the Trump Organization properties were “undervalued” in the financial statements.
Justice Engoron how much overvaluation would qualify as “material,” and the defense attorneys said experts should be called on to testify on the valuations, taking issue with the judge’s pretrial summary judgment.
Ms. Habba added that the Mazars accountant who worked with the Trump Organization had “unfettered access” to the company, implying that if there had been any fraud, he would have known all along.
Fate of Trump Tower?
New York Attorney General Letitia James had sued President Trump last September arguing that he and his business defrauded insurers and lenders in New York state. She is seeking a penalty of $250 million. Justice Engoron has already ruled President Trump for fraud, revoked his business certificates, and ordered the dissolution of the Trump Organization and its related LLCs.
President Trump’s lawyers had asked for details on what it would specifically mean for the companies to be dissolved. Particularly thorny was the question of what should happen with the companies’ assets, which include properties like Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street. The judge, however, didn’t provide a clear answer. He delayed the penalty to 30 days, up from his original order of 10 days, leaving the lawyers in limbo on what to do next.
“We’re waiting for more information,” a source close to President Trump familiar with the situation told The Epoch Times.
Former President Donald Trump drew widespread attention to the civil case against him going to trial in New York on Monday when he arrived at the courthouse, speaking to the press for at least eight minutes before entering New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s courtroom.
“This is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time. We have a rogue judge who rules the properties are … a fraction of what they are,” he said, accusing the attorney general of running on a “Get Trump” platform and ignoring rising crime in the city. “We have a corrupt Attorney General.”
“It’s a scam it’s a sham,” he said. “Just so you know my financial statements are phenomenal,” he said, adding that his net worth is higher than what is on the statements submitted, and the banks “don’t even know why they have to be involved” in the case because they were not hurt and had profited from his business.
“They were paid back on time, there were no defaults there were no problems. It was like a perfect client,” he said.
Ms. James also gave remarks to the press on the courthouse steps that morning.
“Donald Trump and the other defendants have committed persistent and repeated fraud last week we proved that in our motion for summary judgment today we will prove our other claims. My message is simple: no matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law,” said Ms. James. “And it is my responsibility and my duty and my job to enforce it. The law is both powerful and fragile. And today in court we will prove our case.”