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Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York begins Monday. Here’s what to know about the case.

Former President Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James have for years been on a collision course, and it is about to play out in a courtroom in lower Manhattan. 

Trump has long volleyed insults at James while her office investigated him and his company — an investigation that ultimately led to her filing a $250 million civil lawsuit accusing Trump and others at the Trump Organization of widespread fraud. The trial stemming from that suit is scheduled to begin Monday.

Here’s what to know about the case.

Who are the defendants in the case?

Trump, three of his children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump — several other company executives and the Trump Organization itself  were sued in September 2022 by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Her office accused them of perpetrating years of fraud, and vastly overrepresenting both Trump’s wealth and the values of many of his properties on financial statements. 

This summer, a New York appeals court dismissed allegations related to Ivanka Trump, ruling that they involved contracts from too long ago. The court did not dismiss the allegations against the company, Trump, Donald Trump Jr., or Eric Trump, allowing the claims against them to go to trial.

What are the allegations?

The Trumps and their company are accused of fraud, falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements and conspiracy, among other allegations. The attorney general has accused Trump of overstating his wealth by billions of dollars, and the value of many properties by hundreds of millions, while seeking loans. He has denied wrongdoing.

James’ office is seeking $250 million and a slew of sanctions designed to severely limit the Trumps’ ability to do business in New York.

Because this is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case, there is no possibility of jail time. 

Separately, Trump is facing criminal charges in a case filed in April by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleging 34 counts of felony falsification of business records. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

An earlier criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization ended with a guilty verdict last December and a plea deal by the company’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. Trump was not personally charged in that case.

Will Trump attend the trial?

Trump expects to attend at least the first day of the civil trial, sources with knowledge of Trump’s plan say. 

Trump’s intention was first revealed in a court filing related to a separate case: Trump’s lawsuit against his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. The judge in that case noted that Trump had asked to postpone a scheduled Oct. 3 deposition because it would conflict with his plans to attend the first week of this trial.

Who is the judge?

The judge presiding over this case is Arthur Engoron, who was first appointed by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York Supreme Court, 1st Judicial District, in 2013, after previously serving as a judge on New York City’s civil court. A Democrat, he ran unopposed for the position in 2015, and is serving a 14-year term.

In April 2022, Engoron held Trump in contempt for refusing to turn over documents James had subpoenaed, and imposed a fine of $10,000 a day. He also repeatedly rejected attempts by Trump’s attorneys to delay the trial date.

The upcoming proceedings are a bench trial, meaning there is no jury and Engoron will ultimately decide if the defendants are liable, as well as any damages and additional penalties.

How long will the trial be?

The judge asked the attorneys involved to clear their calendars through Dec. 22. However, the trial may not last that long.

Will Trump testify? 

He might. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump are all on preliminary witness lists submitted to the court on Sept. 27. That does not guarantee they will be called to testify. 

Will the trial be televised or livestreamed?

New York state law does not normally allow cameras in the courtroom for most proceedings, but news media organizations have asked the judge to allow coverage of opening statements in this case and are awaiting a decision..

Didn’t the judge just rule on these fraud allegations?

Ahead of the trial, on Sept. 26,  Judge Engoron issued a ruling finding that Trump overvalued the properties by hundreds of millions of dollars — and misrepresented his own worth by billions — while pursuing bank loans. Engoron’s ruling was in response to a motion by James’ office asking him to rule on certain allegations before the trial, which will now focus on other allegations in the lawsuit related to falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and conspiracy.

Engoron’s ruling ordered the cancellation of Trump Organization business certificates and for an independent receiver to dissolve some of Trump’s companies.

What has Trump said?

On his social media site, Trump has called Engoron a “political hack” and a “deranged, Trump hating judge.” He has for years maligned James and the investigation, accusing her of pursuing him for political gain. 

Trump even sued James in December 2021 in an effort to halt her investigation before its conclusion. On a phone call with CBS News at the time, he called James’ investigation “unconstitutional” and himself an “aggrieved and innocent party.” The lawsuit was later dismissed.

Who is Letitia James?

Letitia James, a Democrat, has won election twice as New York attorney general. She took office on Jan. 1, 2019. Before that, she served as New York City public advocate and spent almost a decade as a member of the city council.

James has a history of taking on powerful political figures. An August 2021 report compiled by independent investigators working for her office alleged a pattern of sexual harassment by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo and led to his resignation.

Her investigation in this case began in 2019 after Trump’s former attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, gave congressional testimony in which he said Trump routinely lied about his wealth on loan, insurance and tax documents.

What has James said about the fraud case?

“Claiming that you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal, it’s the art of the steal,” James said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit in Sept. 2022.

What has Trump’s legal team said?

Trump attorney Christopher Kise has argued that what the attorney general calls overvaluations are actually examples of Trump’s “genius,” arguing in court that Trump is “a master at finding value where others see nothing.” 

What has Judge Engoron said?

Engroron has not spoken publicly about the case, but he was unsparing in his pretrial fraud ruling. In the ruling, which rejected Kise’s argument, he decried the “defendants’ obstreperous conduct” and “their continued reliance on bogus arguments,” writing that some of their arguments represented “a fantasy world, not the real world.”

Summarize this content to 100 words Former President Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James have for years been on a collision course, and it is about to play out in a courtroom in lower Manhattan. Trump has long volleyed insults at James while her office investigated him and his company — an investigation that ultimately led to her filing a $250 million civil lawsuit accusing Trump and others at the Trump Organization of widespread fraud. The trial stemming from that suit is scheduled to begin Monday.Here’s what to know about the case.

Who are the defendants in the case?Trump, three of his children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump — several other company executives and the Trump Organization itself  were sued in September 2022 by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Her office accused them of perpetrating years of fraud, and vastly overrepresenting both Trump’s wealth and the values of many of his properties on financial statements. This summer, a New York appeals court dismissed allegations related to Ivanka Trump, ruling that they involved contracts from too long ago. The court did not dismiss the allegations against the company, Trump, Donald Trump Jr., or Eric Trump, allowing the claims against them to go to trial.

What are the allegations?The Trumps and their company are accused of fraud, falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements and conspiracy, among other allegations. The attorney general has accused Trump of overstating his wealth by billions of dollars, and the value of many properties by hundreds of millions, while seeking loans. He has denied wrongdoing.James’ office is seeking $250 million and a slew of sanctions designed to severely limit the Trumps’ ability to do business in New York.Because this is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case, there is no possibility of jail time. Separately, Trump is facing criminal charges in a case filed in April by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleging 34 counts of felony falsification of business records. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

An earlier criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization ended with a guilty verdict last December and a plea deal by the company’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. Trump was not personally charged in that case.Will Trump attend the trial?Trump expects to attend at least the first day of the civil trial, sources with knowledge of Trump’s plan say. Trump’s intention was first revealed in a court filing related to a separate case: Trump’s lawsuit against his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. The judge in that case noted that Trump had asked to postpone a scheduled Oct. 3 deposition because it would conflict with his plans to attend the first week of this trial.Who is the judge?The judge presiding over this case is Arthur Engoron, who was first appointed by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York Supreme Court, 1st Judicial District, in 2013, after previously serving as a judge on New York City’s civil court. A Democrat, he ran unopposed for the position in 2015, and is serving a 14-year term.In April 2022, Engoron held Trump in contempt for refusing to turn over documents James had subpoenaed, and imposed a fine of $10,000 a day. He also repeatedly rejected attempts by Trump’s attorneys to delay the trial date.The upcoming proceedings are a bench trial, meaning there is no jury and Engoron will ultimately decide if the defendants are liable, as well as any damages and additional penalties.How long will the trial be?The judge asked the attorneys involved to clear their calendars through Dec. 22. However, the trial may not last that long.

Will Trump testify? He might. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump are all on preliminary witness lists submitted to the court on Sept. 27. That does not guarantee they will be called to testify. Will the trial be televised or livestreamed?New York state law does not normally allow cameras in the courtroom for most proceedings, but news media organizations have asked the judge to allow coverage of opening statements in this case and are awaiting a decision..Didn’t the judge just rule on these fraud allegations?Ahead of the trial, on Sept. 26,  Judge Engoron issued a ruling finding that Trump overvalued the properties by hundreds of millions of dollars — and misrepresented his own worth by billions — while pursuing bank loans. Engoron’s ruling was in response to a motion by James’ office asking him to rule on certain allegations before the trial, which will now focus on other allegations in the lawsuit related to falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and conspiracy.Engoron’s ruling ordered the cancellation of Trump Organization business certificates and for an independent receiver to dissolve some of Trump’s companies.What has Trump said?On his social media site, Trump has called Engoron a “political hack” and a “deranged, Trump hating judge.” He has for years maligned James and the investigation, accusing her of pursuing him for political gain. Trump even sued James in December 2021 in an effort to halt her investigation before its conclusion. On a phone call with CBS News at the time, he called James’ investigation “unconstitutional” and himself an “aggrieved and innocent party.” The lawsuit was later dismissed.Who is Letitia James?Letitia James, a Democrat, has won election twice as New York attorney general. She took office on Jan. 1, 2019. Before that, she served as New York City public advocate and spent almost a decade as a member of the city council.

James has a history of taking on powerful political figures. An August 2021 report compiled by independent investigators working for her office alleged a pattern of sexual harassment by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo and led to his resignation.Her investigation in this case began in 2019 after Trump’s former attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, gave congressional testimony in which he said Trump routinely lied about his wealth on loan, insurance and tax documents.What has James said about the fraud case?”Claiming that you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal, it’s the art of the steal,” James said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit in Sept. 2022.What has Trump’s legal team said?Trump attorney Christopher Kise has argued that what the attorney general calls overvaluations are actually examples of Trump’s “genius,” arguing in court that Trump is “a master at finding value where others see nothing.” What has Judge Engoron said?Engroron has not spoken publicly about the case, but he was unsparing in his pretrial fraud ruling. In the ruling, which rejected Kise’s argument, he decried the “defendants’ obstreperous conduct” and “their continued reliance on bogus arguments,” writing that some of their arguments represented “a fantasy world, not the real world.”

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Graham Kates

Graham Kates is an investigative reporter covering criminal justice, privacy issues and information security for CBS News Digital. Contact Graham at KatesG@cbsnews.com or grahamkates@protonmail.com

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-civil-fraud-trial-new-york-letitia-james/ Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York begins Monday. Here’s what to know about the case.

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