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Trump civil fraud trial in New York will last nearly three months, judge says

Judge Arthur Engoron said in an order that the bench trial, set to begin on Oct. 2, is not expected to wrap up until Dec. 22.
Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on Sept. 6, 2023 in New York.
Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on Wednesday in New York.James Devaney / GC Images file

The trial for New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump, his family members and his company will last almost three months, the judge presiding over the case said Friday.

"The trial is scheduled to begin on October 2, 2023 and to end by December 22, 2023," Judge Arthur Engoron wrote in an order laying out scheduling and administrative plans for the case, which alleges that Trump, his children Don Jr. and Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization had for years been inflating their worth to the tune of billions of dollars in financial statements to banks and insurers.

The inflated statements helped get favorable loans and deals they weren't entitled to, James has argued.

The Manhattan trial will be a bench trial, meaning there's no jury and the case will be decided by the judge. Engoron said he'll hear the case five days a week.

James' office will have 90 minutes for an opening statement, while the Trumps will have two hours, the judge said.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and maintains the suit is part of a partisan “witch hunt” against him.

In a court filing on Friday, lawyers for the Trumps said "there was no fraud. There are no victims." They argued that much of the case should be dismissed because "despite the NYAG’s politically charged insults and accusations, President Trump (and all of the Defendants) has a great case centered around a phenomenal corporate empire worth billions of dollars more than the NYAG has falsely claimed, very little debt, significant cash and liquidity, powerful disclaimer clauses, paid off loans, and banks extremely pleased with highly profitable loan transactions."

James' office said otherwise in a court filing last month, alleging Trump overstated his worth in amounts ranging from $812 million to $2.2 billion each year.

In a new filing Friday, the AG's office said the "extent of Defendants' deception is far greater" than previously thought. The filing said that a review of Trump's financial information by accounting experts showed his "net worth is overstated by billions more."

They found that his net worth should have been reduced by $1.9 billion to $3.6 billion each year after factoring in multiple real-world considerations for potential, informed buyers and sellers of assets like his.

Trump attorney Alina Habba responded in a statement, saying: "As we will prove at trial, the Attorney General's case is severely flawed and her calculations are entirely inaccurate."

James filed the suit in September of last year, alleging more than 200 instances of fraud over a period of 10 years and moves by Trump that “wildly exaggerated his net worth by billions of dollars.”

In addition to $250 million in money damages, the suit seeks to permanently bar members of the Trump family from serving as officers of New York-based companies as well as other penalties, including a five-year ban on the former president and his company from entering into any commercial real estate acquisitions in the state.

It's unclear if Trump will testify in the case. Witness lists are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. The former president was deposed by the AG's office for eight hours earlier this year.

Trump has several other trials pending in the next year, including two more in New York. Writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation suit against him is scheduled to go to trial in Manhattan federal court in January, and he's scheduled to stand trial in Manhattan criminal court in March on charges of falsifying business records related to his role in hush money payments toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.