Donald Trump, exiting court at the conclusion of Thursday’s testimony, told reporters that New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud case against him is a “disgrace.”
“There was no problem with the loans. The bank was really happy, they testified. Everything was perfect, and it’s a disgrace that this case goes forward,” Trump said.
His legal spokesperson, Alina Habba, accused the attorney general’s team of hypocrisy for criticizing defense expert Eli Bartov, who testified as a state witness after then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued Exxon Mobil in 2018 for allegedly defrauding investors. The suit, which James took over when she became New York attorney general in 2019, was unsuccessful.
“We just listened to testimony from a man who has such distinct recognition as an accounting expert that even Letitia James and the OAG team used him themselves as an accounting expert,” Habba said. “Today when he was on the other side, they spent the entire day objecting, because he was giving testimony that didn’t suit their claims.”
Trump, meanwhile, boasted to reporters about “leading by about 40 points” in the Republican presidential primary, which he said was partially driven by the civil trial against him.
“It’s driving up my polls because the people of our country get it,” Trump said. “My poll numbers are the highest I’ve ever had.”
Bartov is set to continue his testimony on Friday, with Trump scheduled to take the stand as the defense’s final witness on Monday.
If Donald Trump was a student in Eli Bartov’s class, his statements of financial condition would earn him an “A,” the New York University professor said on the stand.
“I’ve never seen a statement that provides so much detail and is so transparent as these statements,” Bartov said, praising the “awesome amount of information” in the financial documents that are at the center of the New York attorney general’s case against Trump.
“There is no fraud here,” Bartov said flatly.
Despite his effusive praise for the statements, the professor attempted to underplay the significance of the documents, emphasizing that lenders would be expected to do their own valuations to decide about lending to Trump. Deutsche Bank’s credit memos — which regularly marked down Trump’s asset values by as much as 50% — proved that the banks used additional information to independently scrutinize Trump’s financial statements, according to Bartov.
“It is impossible to argue — it is really absurd to argue — that Deutsche Bank or any bank or any lender would make lending decisions based on the SOFC,” Bartov said of Trump’s statement of financial condition. “This should close the book on this case.”
“Everywhere you look, you see this is simply an absurd argument,” Bartov said.
During testimony, Donald Trump has been sitting at the defense counsel table with few items other than an unopened, Trump-branded water bottle and a stack of sticky notes.
But during breaks in testimony, he’s taken a page from his son Donald Trump Jr., who chatted with court sketch artist Jane Rosenberg when he testified last month.
The former president has done the same, chatted up the court’s sketch artists during two breaks in testimony.
Rosenberg said that when Trump surveyed her rendering of him, he offered a simple, “Nice.”
Trump also examined a rendering by sketch artist Isabelle Brourman.
“Wow, amazing,” Trump said, according to Brourman. “Gotta lose some weight.”
Donald Trump’s accounting expert snapped at a lawyer for the New York attorney general after the lawyer suggested his opinion was bought by the defense team.
As accounting expert Eli Bartov was testifying about Trump’s use of disclaimers in his financial statements, state attorney Kevin Wallace interjected, saying, “This is pure speculation from someone they hired to say whatever it is they want.”
Still in the witness box, Bartov began yelling at Wallace about the comment as Trump sat watching a few feet away.
“You make up allegations that never existed,” Bartov shouted. “I am here to tell the truth. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for talking like that.”
Bartov, in his testimony, said that Trump’s use of disclaimers functioned “just like the warning from the surgeon general on a box of cigarettes.”
The accounting expert said that Trump’s disclaimers clearly flagged to his lenders that they should conduct their own due diligence regarding the figures, rather than rely on them at face value. Witnesses from Deutsche Bank — Trump’s primary lender during the 2010s — previously testified that they conducted due diligence and significantly undercut the valuations Trump provided in his financial statement when deciding to offer him loans.
“I never saw anything that is clearer than that,” Bartov said about the language in Trump’s disclaimer clause. “Even my nine-year-old granddaughter Emma would understand this language.”
In his pretrial summary judgment ruling, Judge Engoron dismissed Trump’s argument that disclaimer clauses protect him from allegations of fraud. While multiple defense witnesses have attempted to rebut Engoron’s opinion about Trump’s use of disclaimer clauses, the judge has signaled he stands by his opinion.
“My summary judgment is the law of the case on the legal effect of this paragraph or these sentences,” Engoron said in response to Bartov’s testimony, adding that the clauses “would not insulate the client.”
Nevertheless, Trump attorney Chris Kise requested that Engoron reconsider his finding.
“I am fairly liberal in reconsidering my opinions,” Engoron said before Bartov resumed his testimony.