Former President Donald Trump is facing a high-stakes trial in Manhattan that could cost him $250 million and bar his company from operating in New York. The trial centers around accusations that Trump, together with his adult sons and Trump Organization executives, falsified corporate financial statements and engaged in insurance fraud.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron recently extended a partial gag order to include the Trump defense team. This decision came after Trump violated the order twice and received fines. The state attorney general, Letitia James, aims to permanently prohibit Trump and his sons from running a business in New York and impose a five-year ban on them from purchasing real estate or applying for loans in the state. James also seeks to force the defendants to relinquish any profits resulting from the alleged fraud, which could amount to $250 million.
Last week, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump were questioned regarding their knowledge of alleged misrepresentations in their father’s financial statements. Both distanced themselves from close involvement in the statements and instead blamed company accountants.
Although initially a defendant in the lawsuit, Ivanka Trump had the case against her dismissed by an appeals court due to the passage of time. However, she is still required to testify.
Trump’s testimony is eagerly awaited, as it is expected to provide insights into the allegations and potentially sway Engoron’s decision on further penalties. Trump has previously referred to the trial as a “witch hunt,” orchestrated by Letitia James and Engoron, both of whom are Democrats.
The trial has been riddled with controversy, including attacks on Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield. Defense lawyer Christopher Kise raised concerns about exchanges between Engoron and Greenfield, invoking a perception of bias.
Engoron implemented the gag order to safeguard court staff from threats and physical harm. Trump, on the other hand, has criticized Engoron, branding him a “partisan political hack” and a “radical Trump hater.”