After more than three months of bitter arguments, courtroom grandstanding, hallway gaggles and hundreds of objections, former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial will come to a close Thursday.
Trump is expected to attend the proceedings. His effort to get permission to deliver some of his own closing arguments was rejected by Judge Arthur Engoron Wednesday, when Trump failed to agree to limit what he said to “relevant, material facts that are in evidence, and application of the relevant law to those facts.”
The closing arguments are the last opportunity for lawyers for Trump and his co-defendants to limit repercussions in a case in which New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $370 million for the state and a lifetime ban for Trump from working in New York real estate, among other sanctions.
The trial, which began Oct. 2, revolved around accounting minutiae and days of dry testimony that were punctuated by heated courtroom outbursts and confrontations. Trump was fined twice for violating a gag order put in place after he published a derogatory social media post about Engoron’s law clerk.
One witness, Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, tried to object to questions he was asked, causing Trump’s current attorney to lament, “This witness is out of control.” A witness who testified on Trump’s behalf told a lawyer for James, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” And Trump himself was called to the stand on Dec. 6, often responding to questions with lengthy diatribes focused on Engoron and James.
James’ office accused Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., their company and two executives of a yearslong scheme to use inflated valuations to obtain undeservedly good terms on bank and insurance deals.
Engoron found the defendants liable for fraud in a September pretrial ruling. Much of that ruling was paused during the trial, which continued on accusations related to insurance fraud, falsification of business records, and conspiracy.
Trump and his co-defendants have denied all allegations. The Republican, who is running for president again, has raged against the case, calling it political retribution by Democrats.
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