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Closing arguments concludes in Trump civil fraud trial in New York

Former President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he arrives at the New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York City on Jan. 11, 2024.
Timothy A. Clary
/
AFP via Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he arrives at the New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York City on Jan. 11, 2024.

Closing arguments are expected today in a civil fraud trial that alleges former President Donald Trump lied about his wealth. A final decision from New York Judge Arthur Engoron is expected in the coming weeks.

Trump and his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are accused of knowingly committing fraud by submitting financial statements that inflated the value of their properties and other assets. The lawsuit alleges that from 2011 to 2021, Donald Trump and his organization created more than 200 false valuations to inflate his net worth by billions of dollars with the goal of getting better business, insurance and banking deals.

New York Attorney General Letitia James' legal team, who brought forth the lawsuit, and the Trump legal team, are expected to take about two hours each to summarize their final arguments. Although the former president is expected to be in the courtroom, the judge denied his request to make his own closing statement after his lawyers did not agree to limit what he could say. The judge said Trump would have to limit his remarks to "commentary on the relevant, material facts that are in evidence, and application of the relevant law to those facts," according to emails between the parties.

What has happened so far

Engoron has already determined that there was fraud and that the former president, his sons and other executives are liable.

Throughout the trial, legal teams have argued over whether or not notable Trump properties, such as Manhattan's Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street, were valued incorrectly on purpose.

Documents shown during trial ranged from spreadsheets of the valuations to signed financial statements. The attorney general's legal team demonstrated inflations such as when the Trump Tower triplex was marked as being almost 11,000 square feet in 1994, then later as 30,000 square feet. A Forbes magazine article originally shed light on the discrepancy in 2017.

The former president and three of his children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, all took the stand to testify about the valuation process and their involvement. Testifying in November, Trump argued the estimated property values were actually conservative, and he said that he relied on others to compile the statements. His two sons also testified they similarly relied on others, such as their accounting firm, to come up with the numbers — even as emails and documents showed they ultimately approved them.

In closing briefs submitted last week, the Trump legal team doubled down on the argument that Eric, Donald Jr. and Donald Trump did not have knowledge or involvement in the creation, preparation or use of the fraudulent financial statements.
Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.