Donald Trump's business fraud trial gets underway in New York

Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on April 13 in New York City. A trial is set to begin Monday over allegations that Trump and his associates, including some of his children, committed fraud to do business.
Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on April 13 in New York City. A trial is set to begin Monday over allegations that Trump and his associates, including some of his children, committed fraud to do business.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Updated October 2, 2023 at 7:55 AM ET

A civil business fraud trial against former President Donald Trump begins in New York on Monday. Trump and other defendants are accused of exaggerating the value of their real estate.

If found guilty, Trump, who said he's "going to court ... to fight for my name and reputation," would have to pay $250 million in damages and be banned from doing business in New York state.

This is one of four pending lawsuits Trump is facing in New York alone while he is seeking reelection in the 2024 presidential race.

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The lawsuit alleges Trump committed fraud to do business

After a three-year investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit in September 2022 claiming Trump and his executive team engaged in fraudulent business practices. This includes allegations the value of Trump's business and the market value of his real estate holdings in New York state and in Florida were inflated in order to land deals, and negotiate with banks and insurers.

The former president tried to at least delay the trial by suing the judge that will be overseeing the trial. But a New York appeals court panel of judges rejected that move earlier last week, allowing the trial to continue as scheduled.

New York judge has already decided Trump committed fraud

On Sept. 26, New York Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the trial, issued an order concluding that Trump and his associates — including his sons Eric and Donald Jr. — did inflate the value of their assets.

Though the judge ruled on some of the major elements of the lawsuit, there remain six other claims that will be argued during the trial. This includes allegations that Trump and his associates broke state law by falsifying documents, conspiring to falsify business records, issuing false business statements and financial statements and committing insurance fraud.

The attorney general of New York is also still seeking roughly $250 million in penalties.

Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing

Trump has called the fraud accusations ridiculous and untrue and has accused both the judge and New York attorney general, who are Democrats, of being politically motivated.

In a post on his social media site Truth, Trump said Sunday that the valuations of his property are "FRAUDULENT in pursuit of Election Interference, and worse. THIS WHOLE CASE IS A SHAM!!!"

Christopher Kise, a lawyer for Trump, called the initial ruling that confirmed the fraud allegations outrageous and a miscarriage of justice.

Trump and children on the witness list

The trial was expected to run from October to December, but with the recent judge order, that could be shorter.

Both teams have a lengthy list of witnesses, though not all will get called. Still, appearing on both lists are the former president himself along with Eric and Donald Trump Jr. The attorney general's team also listed Ivanka Trump.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Correction
2023-10-02

A previous version of this story incorrectly listed former President Donald Trump's children who are accused of inflating the value of their assets.