new york –
Former US President Donald Trump returned to his civil fraud trial in New York for the third day on Wednesday after defying a judge by defaming key court officials in social media posts.
Trump, the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, is voluntarily taking a break from the campaign trail to attend court. The lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses President Trump and his businesses of defrauding banks, insurance companies and others by providing financial statements that greatly exaggerated his wealth.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump committed fraud by inflating the value of valuable assets, including his Trump Tower penthouse. If the ruling is upheld on appeal, the former president could lose control of his signature skyscraper and several other properties.
Trump denies any wrongdoing. On his way to court Wednesday, he used familiar rhetoric, calling James “incompetent” and painting her as part of a broader Democratic effort to undermine her 2024 prospects, calling the trial He called it “disgraceful.”
Mr. Trump has frequently vented about the trials of Mr. James, fellow Democrat Judge Arthur Engoron, and others in the courthouse hallways and on social media.
But after a social media attack on Engoron’s chief law clerk on Tuesday, a judge imposed a limited gag order, ordering all participants in the trial not to make personal attacks on court officials. The judge ordered President Trump to delete the “derogatory, false and personally identifying posts,” and the former president deleted the posts.
The non-jury trial concerns six claims that remained in the case after Mr. Engoron’s pretrial ruling, and the trial is set to determine how much fines Mr. Trump could incur. There is. James is seeking $250 million and a ban on President Trump from doing business in New York.
On Wednesday, the accountant who has prepared President Trump’s financial statements for years will continue testifying as a state witness. Mr. James’ lawyers are trying to prove that Mr. Trump and his company officials had complete control over the making of the statement.
Accountant Donald Bender argued in court Tuesday that in a letter the Trump Organization sent to the accounting firm, the company provided all financial records and “intentionally failed to provide financial records.” ”, he said, but did not always provide all the documents needed to make the statement. Pending” related data.
Bender admitted during cross-examination that he had overlooked changes in information about the size of the former president’s Trump Tower apartment.
Defense attorney Jesús M. Suarez seized on this, telling Bender that Trump’s company and its employees were “going through hell” because “you overlooked it.”
Bender responded, “We didn’t fail. The Trump Organization made a mistake, and we didn’t catch it.”
Trump is expected to testify at a future trial.