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Trump family members expected to testify at civil fraud trial next week

Members of the Trump family are expected to testify starting next week in a civil fraud trial in Manhattan, starting with Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday and ending Nov. 6 with former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump and his adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, are defendants in the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was accused, but an appeals court threw out the case against her before the trial began this month. Mrs. Trump is still expected to testify next week after unsuccessfully trying Friday to avoid it.

A lawyer for the attorney general’s office, Kevin Wallace, said Friday that the case would end after the former president’s testimony. Mr. Trump’s lawyers are expected to call their own witnesses and could bring in others for cross-examination. It is unclear when the trial will conclude, but it will likely be before December 22, the date originally scheduled.

In the lawsuit that led to the trial, Ms. James accused the Trump family of fraudulently inflating the value of its assets to obtain favorable treatment from banks and insurance companies. Before the trial, the judge who oversaw it, Arthur F. Engoron, agreed with the attorney general, finding that Mr. Trump and the other defendants were responsible for fraud and that their annual financial statements were replete with examples of misconduct.

The trial will determine some sanctions Mr. Trump could face. Ms. James called for him to be fined $250 million and permanently banned from running a business in New York.

Judge Engoron had already revoked business licenses that allowed Mr. Trump to operate his businesses in the state, but an appeals court stayed that part of his order. Mr. Trump’s control over the companies may still be under threat, but he does not need to immediately dissolve the legal entities he uses to manage his properties.

The most severe sanction Mr. Trump has been subjected to so far following the trial is a $15,000 fine for violating a silence order imposed by Judge Engoron, prohibiting him from speaking with members court staff. This week, the judge unexpectedly called the former president to the witness stand to say whether he had attacked the judge’s law clerk.

It was Mr. Trump’s first time testifying in a public court in a decade and the judge didn’t like his performance, saying it sounded “hollow and false.”

With the central issue in the trial having already been decided, the proceedings were largely boring before this week, despite the former president’s frequent visits to the courtroom. It was energized Tuesday by the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who turned against him. Mr. Cohen’s first day of testimony was the first time the two men had been in the same room in five years.

Mr. Cohen — whose testimony to Congress about how the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s family business, manipulated financial statements led to the attorney general’s investigation — initially testified calmly, saying that he had helped calculate the value of assets in order to achieve Mr. Trump’s desired overall net worth.

But Mr. Cohen stumbled during cross-examination, admitting to lying in the past and struggling to explain how Mr. Trump made his wishes known. When he said Mr. Trump did not explicitly ask him to manipulate the numbers, a lawyer for the former president called for an immediate verdict.

The judge refused the request. “There is enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom,” he said.


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