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Trump Organization trial underway in two New York courts amid heated arguments

More than a dozen lawyers representing the Trump Organization in two separate cases gathered in lower Manhattan Tuesday morning for a block of courtroom proceedings in cases that will decide the company’s future.

The two cases, a civil suit brought in September by New York Attorney General Letitia James, and a criminal trial on charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney in 2021, are parallel investigations conducted against the backdrop of Trump’s presidency and public relations offensive. stems from. continued after his 2020 defeat.

Trump has accused both offices of conducting a “political witch hunt” while his company has suffered a series of court defeats – stalling investigations or limiting investigators’ access to both the company’s and Trump’s financial records. Failed to. In Manhattan Civil Supreme Court, New York’s attorney general and the company’s lawyers met Tuesday, five days after a judge appointed an independent monitor to keep tabs on the company.

In that case, the state claims that the Trump Organization, former President Donald Trump and his three children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka and Eric — engaged in a fairly widespread fraud scheme revolving around asset price manipulation. new york attorney general $250 million soughtThe end of the company’s operations in New York and the banning of the four Trumps.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump and the company, said during the hearing that Trump plans to attend the civil trial next year, “all of them.” He said Trump himself could testify in his own defense.

The hearing, a scheduling conference, heated up shortly after it began, when Judge Arthur Angrone criticized a motion by Trump and the company to dismiss the filing Monday night. Angoron said the arguments fell into three groups, which mirrored ones he had already dismissed when the company’s lawyers tried to block the attorney general’s investigation: “The standing, or lack thereof, In what I call the ‘witch hunt argument,’ failure to plead a cause of action”

“I thought it was Yogi Berra, until it was Casey Stengel who said it was ‘deja vu all over again,'” Angrone said, referring to a famous line attributed to New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Berra. said while doing

Habba openly said in court, Angorone said “there is a clear bias against our client.”

“You’re asking why my arguments are different? They’re not.” Hubba said. “He filed a complaint and we have to respond.”

After the hearing, Habba walked a block north to Manhattan Criminal Court, where she sat in an audience watching lawyers from two Trump Organization companies who are on trial on more than a dozen counts related to criminal fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors say executives of the Trump Organization, which denies all allegations, devised a variety of schemes to receive hundreds of thousands of windfall benefits and bonuses per year. On Monday, prosecutors rested, and defense attorneys called their first witness, an accountant named Donald Bender, who worked on his firm’s Trump accounts — both personal and corporate — for four decades.

Trump Organization attorneys have sought to pin the blame on the company’s former chief financial officer, Alan Weiselberg, who entered a guilty plea in the case in August. They have argued that Wesselberg and Bender, who received immunity in exchange for grand jury testimony, should have better protected the company.

Wesselberg previously testified that he lived in an $8,200-a-month corporate apartment overlooking the Hudson River, without declaring profits, and that his son Barry paid $1,000 a month—much above the market rate. Less – for a luxury Central Park South apartment.’

In court Tuesday, Trump Organization attorney Susan Necheles went back-and-forth questioning Bender over his communications with Wesselberg about Barry’s apartment. Nechels asked if Weiselberg had asked for advice on the arrangement.

Bender said that he had advised against it.

Bender said, “He asked me a question and I told him in my head that it didn’t work.”

Nechelas replied: “And you have no record of giving that advice?”

During two sidebars on Monday, Nechels and another Trump Organization attorney argued that Bender should be declared an hostile witness, claiming he has not been forthcoming in his answers. Judge Juan Marchen denied those requests.

Trump summarized his defense team’s stance on Bender’s firm, Mazars USA, in a post on his social media platform TruthSocial.

“The highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked up on these things – we trusted them. Very unfair!” Trump wrote on Nov. 18.

That day, Attorney General Merrick Garland Special Advocate announced To oversee two ongoing federal criminal investigations related to Trump removal of documents from the White House And this January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot,

As she walked into the courtroom on Tuesday, minutes before her confrontation with Angorone, Habba was asked whether Trump’s team was ready to face legal challenges.

Hubba responded, “I think we’re doing a really good job. If you look at our track record, we’re winning.” The judge later denied the company’s request to delay the hearing in the New York civil case for at least 15 months, instead setting it for October 2, 2023.

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