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Former President Donald Trump vigorously defended his wealth and business on Monday, tangling from the witness stand with the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial and denouncing as a “political witch hunt” a lawsuit accusing him of dramatically inflating his net worth.

Trump’s long-awaited testimony about property valuations and financial statements was punctuated by personal jabs at a judge he said was biased against him and at the New York attorney general, whom he derided as a “political hack.” He proudly boasted of his real estate business — “I’m worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements” — and disputed claims that he had deceived banks and insurers.

“This is the opposite of fraud,” he declared. Referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat whose office brought the lawsuit, he said, “The fraud is her.”

The testy exchanges, and frequent rebukes from the judge, underscored Trump’s unwillingness to adapt his famously freewheeling rhetorical style to a formal courtroom setting governed by rules of evidence and legal protocol. But while his presence on the stand was a vivid reminder of the legal troubles he faces as he vies to reclaim the White House in 2024, it also functioned as a campaign platform for the former president and leading Republican presidential candidate to raise anew to supporters his claims of political persecution at the hands of government lawyers and judges.

“People are sick and tired of what’s happening. I think it is a very sad say for America,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom after roughly three-and-a-half hours on the stand.

Trump’s testimony got off to a contentious start Monday, with state Judge Arthur Engoron admonishing him to keep his answers concise and reminding him that “this is not a political rally.”

Turning to Trump’s attorney at one point, the judge said, “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will.” The civil trial is one of numerous legal proceedings Trump is confronting, including federal and state charges accusing him of crimes including illegally hoarding classified documents and scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election. His legal and political strategies have now become completely intertwined as he hopscotches between campaign events and court hearings, a schedule that will only intensify once his criminal trials begin.

Though the fraud case doesn’t carry the prospect of prison as the criminal prosecutions do, its allegations of financial impropriety cut to the heart of the brand he spent decades crafting. The suggestion that Trump is worth less than he’s claimed has been interpreted by him as a cutting insult.



Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday that he never worked on his father’s financial statements, the documents now at the heart of the civil fraud trial that threatens former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire.

The ex-president’s eldest son is an executive vice president of the family’s Trump Organization and has been a trustee of a trust set up to hold its assets when his father was in the White House.

At least one of the annual financial statements bore language saying the trustees “are responsible” for the document. But Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t recall ever working on any of the financial statements and had “no specific knowledge” of them.

The lawsuit centers on whether the former president and his business misled banks and insurers by inflating his net worth on the financial statements. He and other defendants, including sons Donald Jr. and Eric, deny wrongdoing.

Trump Jr. said he signed off on statements as a trustee, but had left the work to outside accountants and the company’s then-finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.

“As a trustee, I have an obligation to listen those who are expert — who have an expertise of these things,” he said.

“I wasn’t working on the document, but if they tell me that it’s accurate, based on their accounting assessment of all of the materials,” he said, “these people had an incredible intimate knowledge, and I relied on them.”

The first family member to testify, he is due to return to the stand Thursday. Next up will be his brother and fellow Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump and, on Monday, their father — the family patriarch, company founder, former president and 2024 Republican front-runner.

Daughter Ivanka, a former Trump Organization executive and White House adviser, is scheduled to take the stand Nov. 8. But her lawyers on Wednesday appealed Judge Arthur Engoron ‘s decision to require her testimony.

New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the lawsuit, alleging that Donald Trump, his company and top executives, including Eric and Donald Jr., conspired to exaggerate his wealth by billions of dollars on his financial statements. The documents were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals.

The former president has called the case a “sham,” a “scam,” and “a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.”



Kentucky’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a new state law that allowed participants in constitutional challenges to get the cases switched to randomly selected counties. The court said the legislature’s action on the assignment of court cases encroached on judicial authority.

The law, enacted this year over the governor’s veto, allowed any participants to request changes of venue for civil cases challenging the constitutionality of laws, orders or regulations. It required the clerk of the state Supreme Court to choose another court through a random selection.

Such constitutional cases typically are heard in Franklin County Circuit Court in the capital city of Frankfort. For years, Republican officials have complained about a number of rulings from Franklin circuit judges in high-stakes cases dealing with constitutional issues.

The high court’s ruling was a victory for Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who in his veto message denounced the measure as an “unconstitutional power grab” by the state’s GOP-dominated legislature. Lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto, sparking the legal fight that reached the state’s highest court.

Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office defended the venue law, which passed as Senate Bill 126. Cameron is challenging Beshear in the Nov. 7 gubernatorial election — one of the nation’s highest-profile campaigns this year.

Writing for the court’s majority, Chief Justice Laurance B. VanMeter said the new law amounted to a violation of constitutional separation of powers.

The measure granted “unchecked power to a litigant to remove a judge from a case under the guise of a “transfer,” circumventing the established recusal process, the chief justice wrote.

“It operates to vest a certain class of litigants with the unfettered right to forum shop, without having to show any bias on the part of the presiding judge, or just cause for removal,” VanMeter said.



U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez returned to Manhattan federal court Monday to challenge a new criminal charge alleging that he conspired to act as an agent of the Egyptian government when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Not guilty,” Menendez, 69, said when Judge Sidney H. Stein asked him for a plea to the charge. It was his first appearance before Stein, who is expected to preside over a trial tentatively scheduled for May.

Stein said the plea was the sole purpose for the hearing and adjourned the proceeding after less than five minutes. The New Jersey Democrat left the courthouse minutes later without speaking to reporters waiting outside. At an arraignment before a magistrate judge last month, Menendez was released on a $100,000 bond.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Menendez repeated his claim that the new charge “flies in the face of my long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and in challenging leaders of that country.”

He again called it “as outrageous as it is absurd” and said he has been loyal only to the United States his entire life.

“The facts haven’t changed. The government is engaged in primitive hunting, by which the predator chases its prey until it’s exhausted and then kills it. This tactic won’t work,” he said. “I will not litigate this case through the press, but have made it abundantly clear that I have done nothing wrong and once all the facts are presented will be found innocent.”

Menendez was forced to step down from his powerful post leading the Senate committee after he was charged last month. Prosecutors said the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, accepted bribes of cash, gold bars and a luxury car over the past five years from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for a variety of corrupt acts.

The other defendants entered not guilty charges to a superseding indictment last week. The senator was permitted to delay his arraignment so he could tend to Senate duties. He has said that throughout his life he has been loyal to the United States and that he will prove he is innocent.



Donald Trump returned Tuesday to the civil fraud trial that imperils his real estate empire, watching and deploring the case as an employee and an outside appraiser testified that his company essentially put a thumb on the scale when sizing up his properties’ value.

Incensed by a case that disputes his net worth and could strip him of such signature holdings as Trump Tower, the former president is due to testify later in the trial. But he chose to attend the first three days and came back Tuesday to observe — and to protest his treatment to the news cameras waiting outside the Manhattan courtroom.

Star witness Michael Cohen, a onetime Trump fixer now turned foe, postponed his scheduled testimony because of a health problem.

Instead, Trump company accountant Donna Kidder testified that she was told to make some assumptions favorable to the firm on internal financial spreadsheets. Outside appraiser Doug Larson said he didn’t suggest or condone a former Trump Organization comptroller’s methods of valuing properties.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Larson said of the way the ex-controller reached a $287.6 million value for a prominent Trump-owned retail space in 2013.

Trump, outside court, reiterated his insistence that he’s done nothing wrong and that New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit is a political vendetta designed to drag down his 2024 presidential campaign as he leads the Republican field.

“We built a great company — a lot of cash, it’s got a lot of great assets, some of the greatest real estate assets anywhere in the world,” Trump said outside the courtroom. He dismissed the case as “a disgrace,” the legal system as “corrupt” and the Democratic attorney general as a “radical lunatic.”

James’ lawsuit alleges that Trump and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and inflating his net worth on his financial statements.



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