Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (2024)

Updated 9:36 PM EDT, Tue October 24, 2023

Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (3)

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Trump's fraud trial looks at his net worth. See his history of boasting about it over the years

02:01 - Source: CNN

What we covered

  • Donald Trump and his former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen went face to face in a courtroom Tuesday as Cohen testified as part of the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case against the former president. The trial will resume Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET.
  • Cohen explained how he allegedly worked to inflate the value of Trump’s net worth, by finding valuations to match what Trump wanted to report.
  • In the $250 million lawsuit, New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges Trump and his co-defendants committed repeated fraud in inflating assets on financial statements to get better terms on commercial real estate loans and insurance policies. The case is civil, not criminal, but threatens Trump’s business in New York.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate Trump case, another one of his former campaign lawyers pleaded guilty for her efforts to help overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

19 Posts

What to know from the dramatic day in court

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (4)

Trump attends his civil business fraud trial at the New York Supreme Court, on Tuesday, October 24.

Michael Cohen said he had a “heck of a reunion” Tuesday with his former boss Donald Trump when he testified against the former president at his New York civil fraud trial.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • With Trump sitting feet away, Trump’s one-time lawyer and fixer described how he manipulated Trump’s financial statements – “reverse-engineering” them to hit an arbitrary net worth.
  • Things quickly got heated when cross-examination began as Cohen sneered at the questions and loudly objected to one line of questioning.
  • Judge Arthur Engoron said trial testimony and financial documents about Trump’s $1 billion bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 could be included as evidence because they support the attorney general’s claims that Trump had a fraudulent pattern and practice when reporting his worth.
  • While Trump spent the entire day in the courtroom, both for Cohen’s testimony and the appearance of Mazars general counsel Bill Kelly, he also worked to scuttle the short-lived House speakership candidacy of Republican Rep. Tom Emmer.

The trial will resume with Cohen still on the stand Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET.

Financial documents backing Trump's $1 billion bid to buy the Buffalo Bills allowed as evidence to support AG's allegations of a pattern of fraud, judge says

From CNN's Lauren del Valle and Jeremy Herb

The judge overseeing Trump’s trial said testimony andfinancial documents about Trump’s $1 billion bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 could be included as evidencebecause they support the attorney general’s claims that Trump had a fraudulent pattern and practice when reporting his worth.

In the July 2014 letter submitting a bid to buy the Bills, Trump claimed his net worth was $8 billion.

The financial documents withclaims in them that Trump had an $8 billion net worth at the time “arguably tends to show pattern and practice of fraud, to use a loaded term,” Judge Arthur Engoron said, overruling the objection fromTrump’s attorneys who said the document is not relevant to the case.

Before the judge’s ruling,the AG’s attorneys and Trump’s lawyers clashed over Michael Cohen’s testimony about the letter.Trump attorney Chris Kise objected to the line of questioning regarding internal preparations for Trump to bid on the Bills, arguing there was no transaction to buy the team, and it wasn’t the basis for any claims in the complaint.

Engoron allowed the testimony involving the Bills documents to be admitted.

During a break in the trial, Trump said there was “absolutely nothing wrong” with his bid to by the Bills.

“I was going to buy it, but the team sold for a lot more money than I offered. I offered a billion dollars. The team sold for $1.4 billion as I understand it,” Trump said. “I was a bidder on the team. I had it all financed and everything else that you needed. There was absolutely nothing wrong, and we didn’t even make the deal. It was many years ago.”

“I’m trying to figure out what relevance does this have to this scam case,” Trump continued “It’s a scam. It’s political interference. It’s a fight against a political opponent that’s leading him the polls. This is a scam case.”

Cross-examination of Michael Cohen begins

From CNN's Jeremy Herb
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (5)

Cohen returns to the courthouse after a break on Tuesday, October 24.

The New York attorney general’s office wrapped up its questions of Michael Cohen just after 4 p.m. ET, and Trump attorney Alina Habba is now questioning Cohen.

Her cross-examination is expected to continue on Wednesday. Habba first asked Cohen if he had any medical conditions that would inhibit his ability to testify truthfully today.

Cohen responded, “Asked and answered.”

Habba told him his job is to answer questions, and the judge told him to answer the question even if it was asked on direct.

Habba then asked Cohen if he was taking any medications that would affect his ability to testify honestly. He said no. She then asked ifany medication was altering his thinking at the present time. He said no.

Cohen's demeanor changes as he fights Trump's attorney during cross-examination

From Lauren del Valle, Skyler Harris, Brynn Gingras and Jeremy Herb

Michael Cohen’s demeanor in the courtroom completely changed from deliberate answers to questions from the attorney general’s office, and he took taken issue with questions at several points throughout cross-examination.

Cohen and Trump lawyer Alina Habba got into a heated exchange over Habba’s questioning about Cohen’s tax evasion charges, after she asked Cohen whether he told his wife about his tax crimes.

“Did you ever tell your wife that you were committing tax evasion?” Habba asked.

Cohen loudly objected, raising his voice at Habba over the direction of her questions.

Lawyers from both sides also got involved as Trump lawyer Chris Kise objected to Cohen’s outburst and the New York attorney general’s office objected to the question, saying it covered spousal privilege.

“This witness is completely out of control,” Kise said, prompting a laugh from the gallery.

Kise argued the question was relevant to impeach Cohen’s character as a serial liar, part of the Trump team’s strategy to discredit Cohen.

“Asked and answered,” Cohen sneered in response to a question about losing his law license.

Habba at one point told him to stop making speeches and answer her questions.

Cohen explains how he worked to increase Trump's property portfolio value and net worth

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle

Michael Cohen directly implicated Donald Trump in the inflation of asset valuations to reflect a higher net worth Trump would want to report.

“I would receive a phone call,” generally from Trump’s executive assistant, Cohen said, and he and Allen Weisselberg, then-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer, would go to Trump’s office.

Cohen testified that they would look at numbers “being achieved elsewhere” in New York and recalculate valuations using real estate as “comparables” that were achieving the highest prices per square foot in the city, even though those properties had different amenities from Trump’s assets.

The other properties would have different ceiling heights, unobstructed views, and were not inhibited by rent control, Cohen explained.

“You could call them comparable, but comparable would imply that they are similar,” Cohen said. “No, they were not comparables. They were just different.”

Looking at Trump’s 2012 statement of financial condition, Cohen said he recalled inflating assets including: Trump Tower, Trump Park Ave., Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza, the commercial side of 100 Central Park South, the Mansion at Seven Springs,the Miss Universe Pageants and “possibly others.”

Cohen said that they would return to Trump “demonstrating that we achieved or close to the number he was seeking.”

“He was the only one who could accept them,” Cohen said.

Correction: A previous version of this post misattributed a quote from Michael Cohen.

Trump's attorneys appeal sanctions against them

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys in his New York civil fraud case are appealing the judge’s sanctions against them,which were handed down in late September for repeatedly making legal arguments against the New York attorney general’s lawsuit that were already denied by the judge.

Trump’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal Tuesday following Judge Arthur Engoron’s $7,500 sanction last month, asking a state appellate court to reverse the judgment.

In his order finding Trump and his co-defendants were liable for fraud, Engoron also took issue with the defense attorneys continuing to argue the New York attorney general lacked standing, saying their arguments “invoke the time-loop in the film ‘Groundhog Day.’”

“Exacerbating defendants’ obstreperous conduct is their continued reliance on bogus arguments, in papers and oral argument,” Engoron wrote. “Unfortunately, sanctions are the only way to impress upon defendants’ attorneys the consequences of engaging in repetitive, frivolous motion practice after this court.”

Tuesday, Engoron put one of Trump’s attorneys on a 15-minute timer.

Trump’s attorneys have also filed a notice of appeal to reverse Engoron’s ruling that Trump and his co-defendants were liable for fraud, which came before the trial kicked off.

Trump would say what he wanted his net worth to be — then statements would be manipulated to match, Cohen says

From CNN's Lauren del Valle
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (7)

A sketch of Cohen on the stand on Tuesday, October 24.

Donald Trump’s former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen testified Tuesday he and former Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg wouldmanipulatethe statements of financial conditions, the documents at the center of the civil fraud trial, based on what Trump wanted his net worth to reflect.

Cohen testified that Trump would tell him and Weisselberg what he wanted his total net worth to be.Then Cohen and Weisselberg would reverse engineer the asset valuations in his statements of financial condition to achieve that number.

The net worth amount they’d back into on the statements was: “Whatever number Mr. Trump told us to,” Cohen said.

Weisselberg testified earlier at trial that he doesn’t remember any meetings with Cohen and Trump to discuss Trump’s net worth or financial statements.

“I don’t believe it ever happened, no,” the former CFO testified.

Trump says Cohen "has a horrible record." Cohen calls today's court appearance a "heck of a reunion"

From CNN's Sabrina Souza and Laura Dolan
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (8)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a trial break at New York Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Former President Donald Trump said he is not worried about his former attorney’s testimony at his civil fraud trial, saying he’s not a credible witness.

“He has a horrible record,” Trump said outside the courtroom as he exited for a lunch break. “It’s not going to end up very good for him. We’re not worried at all about his testimony.”

Trump again said his assets are far above what his financial statements indicated, as he has done many times during the trial, which is in its fourth week.

Cohen, meanwhile, walking out for the lunch break, told reporters that his appearance is a “heck of a reunion.”

He will return to the stand when the hearing resumes.

Michael Cohen acknowledges his complicity on crimes he says he committed for Trump

From CNN's Lauren del Valle and Jeremy Herb
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (9)

Michael Cohen arrives at the New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Michael Cohen began his testimony with questions from Colleen Faherty of the New York attorney general’s office about the crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2018, including tax crimes, campaign violations and lying to Congress.

Cohen gave a lengthy answer about those crimes why he made public statements about the legitimacy of his conviction.

Cohen previously testified before Congress in 2019 about Trump’s involvement in the hush-money scheme involving both former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged having affairs with Trump (Trump has denied the affairs).

“I acknowledge my complicity in the Stormy Daniels matter, but I never paid Karen McDougal,” Cohen said, explaining the payments to McDougal were made through AMI, the former owner of the National Enquirer.

Trump did not react when Cohenraised the hush-money paymentsand stared straight ahead at Cohen.

Cohen also said he lied to Congresswhen he testified in 2017about how many times he spoke to Donald Trumpabout a Trump Tower Moscow project,when he said it was only three discussions and it was actually 10.

He said that statement was drafted in discussions with a list of people in Trump’s camp including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Trump Org. legal counsel Alan Garten and others.Trump attorney Chris Kise objected to that statement, which was overruled by JudgeArthurEngoron.

Cohen said he felt he had to address the public information.

“When all of this started, it was overwhelming. The amount of disinformation misinformation, mal-information about me. It was overwhelming and enormous,”he said.

Despite public statements pushing back on the federal charges against him over the years, Cohen confirmed he eventually pleaded guilty and served a sentence taking responsibility for each of the counts he pleaded guilty to.

Trump team's strategy to combat Cohen's testimony

From CNN's Kristen Holmes
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (10)

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Part of former President Donald Trump and his team’s strategy in the New York civil fraud case is to amplify Michael Cohen’s testimony and portray him as the star witness, as a way to then discredit him – and therefore the case.

This was on display as Trump spoke at the courthouse this morning.

“He’s a proven liar,” Trump said. “He’s a felon. He has served a lot of time for lying and we’re just going to go in and see.”

Trump’s allies also plan to blast out videos and statements previously made byCohento paint him as a liar.

Judge puts Trump's lawyer on a timer

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle

Judge Arthur Engoron clashed with Donald Trump’s attorneys over the cross-examination of the general counsel for Trump’s former accounting firm after Engoron put Trump’s attorney Jesus Suarez on a 15-minute timer.

During the cross-examination of Mazars general counsel Bill Kelly, Engoron grew impatient at several points, asking Suarez how much more he had planned.

After returning from a break, Suarez had Kelly confirm that Mazars did not identify material discrepancies in Trump’s statements of financial conditions at the time, even after years of investigations by the district attorney, attorney general and congressional Democrats.

But Colleen Faherty of the attorney general’s office objected to the repeated line of questioning. Engoron then put a timer on for 15 minutes because Suarez said that’s all he needed.

Trump attorney Chris Kise responded that the judge has never timed the questioning by the attorney general and that his colleague should not be rushed in questioning Kelly.

Trump was visibly angry, talking and gesturing to Kise at the defense table.

Michael Cohen takes the stand

From CNN's Lauren del Valle
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (11)

Michael Cohen arrives at the New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer, has taken the stand in the civil fraud trial against the former president.

As he walked in, Cohen looked over quickly at the defense table.

The first question from the attorney general’s office was to ask Cohen if he was taking any medications that would inhibit his ability to testify truthfully at trial. He said no.

Lawyers spar over positive Covid tests and trial delay

From CNN's Lauren del Valle and Jeremy Herb
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (12)

Former President Donald Trump sits in a New York State Supreme Court room alongside his lawyers including Chris Kise, right, on Tuesday.

Trump attorney Chris Kise objected at the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, telling the court that four members of the NY attorney general’s staff tested positive for Covidand complained that there was no mention of it until the weekend.

“The leading candidate for president of the United States” is here, Kise said.

Kise alleged that Attorney General Letitia James knew about therisk at least as of last Wednesday but there was no mention of it.Hesaid the court was not notified until Saturday and said four AG team members have tested positive.

Another Trump attorney also confirmed a member of the former president’s team tested positive.

Judge Arthur Engoron said court will proceed and commented, “I understand what you’re saying. I understand your concerns.”He added that masks are available.

Neither Trump nor anyone on his legal teamis wearing a mask,and neither is James.Only a handful of people in the gallery are wearing masks.

Trump’s attorneys also objected to using the same microphone to question witnesses as the district attorney’s office.Trump lawyer JesusSuarezwas given a wireless microphone when he started his cross-examination of the first witness on Tuesday.

The NY Attorney General’s office saiditfollowed US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“As always, the Attorney General’s Office has followed and complied with CDC guidelines. Our office properly notified the court and defendants’ counsel, and the court decided to proceed with trial today,” a spokesman from the AG’s office said. “If there were any concerns, defendants’ could wear masks today or at any point, but they have opted not to.”

Mazars general counsel testifies about working with Trump Org.

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (13)

Bill Kelly is questioned by Assistant Attorney General Alex Finkelstein in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The first witness Tuesday for the New York attorney general’s office is Bill Kelly, the general counsel of Mazars, the accounting firm used by Donald Trump and the Trump Organization.

Kelly testified that Mazars determined the company could still work with Trump Org. when it first received a congressional subpoena in 2019 and as it received additional subpoenas thereafter.

Mazars continued to work with Trump Org. until they received a subpoena in May 2021 when it learned the Manhattan District Attorney’s office was investigating Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg.

“If we can no longer rely on him as CFO we can no longer perform those services,” Kelly said.

Trump is following along with Kelly’s testimony though not reacting to it. He’s alternating between leaning back and sitting up to look at documents on the screen in front of him as they are shown by the attorney general’s office.

Trump calls Michael Cohen a “proven liar” as he enters courtroom

From CNN's Laura Dolan
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (14)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press after arriving at New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Former President Donald Trump called his former attorney Michael Cohen a “proven liar” as he entered court Tuesday morning.

“He’s a proven liar,” Trump said. “He’s a felon. He has served a lot of time for lying and we’re just going to go in and see.”

Cohen says his lies were made at Trump’s direction.

Trump again complained about the trial and said he’s done nothing wrong.

“This case by any other judge, this case would have been over a long time ago,” Trump said.

Cohen previously pleaded guilty and served prison time for nine federal crimes including tax fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations for helping pay off two women who threatened to go public with past alleged affairs with Trump just before the 2016 election. Trump has denied the affairs.

Another Trump campaign attorney pleads guilty

From CNN's Marshall Cohen
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (15)

Jenna Ellis sits with her lawyers after pleading guilty inside a Fulton County Courtroom in Atlanta on Tuesday.

At the same time as Trump is attending the civil fraud trial in New York, another of his former campaign lawyers, Jenna Ellis, is pleading guilty in an Atlanta courtroom for her efforts to help overturn the 2020 election.

The overlapping courtroom drama shows the ongoing legal peril to the former president in multiple jurisdictions.

Ellis delivered a tearful statement to the judge Tuesday while pleading guilty, disavowing her participation in Trump’s unprecedented attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

“If I knew then what I knew now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-challenges. I look back on this experience with deep remorse,” Ellis said, her voice breaking at times.

Cohen says he's looking forward to Tuesday's reunion

From CNN's Nicki Brown
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (16)

Michael Cohen arrives at the New York State Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday.

Ahead of the taking the stand in a New York courtroom Tuesday, Michael Cohen spoke to reporters outside his apartment, saying he is “looking forward to the reunion” with Donald Trump.

“It’s been five years since we’ve been in the same room,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that despite pleading guilty to lying to Congress, “my credibility should not be in question,” because it was done “at the direction of, in concert with, and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.”

Michael Cohen set to testify today in fraud trial of his former boss, Donald Trump

From CNN's Jeremy HerbandLauren del Valle
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (17)

Former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen is seen in New York in March.

Michael Cohen was once one ofDonald Trump’s most loyal allies.

But aftergoing to jailfor tax crimes and lying to Congress, Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer,” became a star witness against his former boss,testifying before Congressabout the hush-money payments he made to women claiming affairs with Trump andwriting bookshighly critical of the former president.

Tuesday, Trump and Cohen are expected to be face to face in a New York courtroom as Cohen delivers testimony as part of the New York attorney general’scivil fraud caseagainst the former president.

When Cohen takes the stand, he will face down a very angry Donald Trump. It’s the first time the two have been in the same room or even spoken in five years, according to multiple sources.

Cohen’s testimony is the latest high-profile moment in the civil fraud trial, in which New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to bar Trump from doing business in the state. While Trump has played only a passive role in the trial to date, he is expected to be called as a witness later on.

Trump voluntarily attended the civil trial’s opening days, and the former president returned last week, when Cohen was initially supposed to be called to testify, though Cohen’s appearance was delayed after he cited a medical issue.

Trump is also returning to the courtroom after he was fined$5,000 last weekby Judge Arthur Engoron – and warned about possible imprisonment – for violating a gag order not to speak about any members of the court staff. Engoron fined Trump over a social media post attacking Engoron’s clerk that had not been removed from Trump’s campaign website.

Cohen is expected to testify about meetings with former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and Trump regarding Trump’s financial statements and net worth. Cohen has claimed there were meetings with Weisselberg and Trump about Trump’s net worth before the financial statements were filed. Weisselberg testified earlier in the trial, “I don’t believe it ever happened, no.”

Read more about Cohen’s pending testimony here.

Judge fines Trump $5,000 for violating gag order in New York fraud trial

From CNN's Kara ScannellandSabrina Souza
Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (18)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press during a break in his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 17.

Former President Donald Trumpwas fined $5,000by a New York judge on Friday for violating a gag order not to speak about any members of the court staff — and was warned twice about possible imprisonment.

“Donald Trump has received ample warning from this Court as to the possible repercussions of violating the gag order. He specifically acknowledged that he understood and would abide by it,” Judge Arthur Engoron said in hisorderlast week.

On the second day of the trial, October 3, Engoron issued a partial gag order on all parties not to speak about any members of the court staff after Trump posted on Truth Social attacking Engoron’s clerk. The post claimed she was a “girlfriend” to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, showing a picture of the two of them together.

The post was removed from Truth Social right after thegag order was issued, but it was not erased from Trump’s campaign website, DonaldJTrump.com.

Live updates: Trump civil fraud trial continues in New York | CNN Politics (19)

Justice Arthur Engoron presides over former President Trump's civil fraud case on October 17.

In court, Engoron admonished the former president’s attorneys for a “blatant violation” of the gag order and suggested that violations could result in “imprisonment.”

“I learned that the subject post was never removed from the website,” he said. “And, in fact, had been on that website for the past 17 days. I understand that it was removed late last night but only in response to an email.”

Trump attorney Chris Kise apologized to Engoron, saying it was “inadvertent” that the post was able to live on what he called a “back page” of Trump’s campaign website.

Kise blamed it on the large machinery of the campaign and was assured the judge that Trump ordered the post removed.

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