The sprawling civil fraud trial involving former President Trump’s business empire is coming to a close on Thursday, as both his legal team and state lawyers present their closing arguments to Judge Arthur Engoron. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, is seeking to ban Trump from New York’s real estate business and impose a penalty of nearly $370 million for allegedly falsifying his net worth on financial statements. Trump and his business, as well as his adult sons, have denied any wrongdoing. Trump is expected to make a final appearance at the trial, which has also become an unexpected campaign stop as he balances his legal troubles with his 2024 presidential bid.
While Trump is not obligated to attend the trial, he has frequently appeared in court to denounce the case as politically motivated. These appearances have served as a platform for Trump to divert attention away from his GOP primary rivals in the upcoming Iowa caucuses and could potentially influence how he approaches future court appointments in 2024.
Throughout the trial, lawyers for both parties presented around 40 witnesses who shed light on Trump’s finances and business dealings. The focus of the New York attorney general’s case was Trump’s statements of financial condition, which were submitted to banks and insurers to secure loans and deals for the Trump Organization. Expert witness Michiel McCarty testified that these skewed financial statements could have cost banks over $168 million in interest across four projects. Another witness, Nicholas Haigh, revealed that the documents played a crucial role in approving two significant loans for Trump’s Doral golf resort and Chicago hotel. Haigh stated that Trump’s financial statements allowed him to obtain larger loans with lower interest rates.
In their post-trial brief, state lawyers asserted that the defendants’ intentions to defraud were evident in their preparation and certification of Trump’s financial statements. They argue that the deceptive schemes employed to inflate asset values and conceal facts were too outrageous to be innocent. In his own testimony, Trump downplayed the significance of his financial statements, claiming that banks did not pay much attention to them. He and his lawyers contended that banks have a responsibility to conduct their due diligence and should not solely rely on the Trump Organization’s representations.
During the defense case, top Deutsche Bank executives appeared to support Trump’s argument, suggesting that banks need to conduct their own investigations rather than solely relying on the information provided by the Trump Organization. The closing arguments will be the final opportunity for both sides to present their case before the judge reaches a verdict.