Real Estate Executive Testifies in Trump’s New York Civil Fraud Trial

real estate executive testifies in trumps new york civil fraud trial
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Former President Donald Trump displayed frustration in a New York City courtroom during an ongoing civil trial on October 18, 2023. This trial involves various accusations, including fraud, falsification of business records, and conspiracy. The state is seeking $250 million in damages and significant restrictions on Trump’s businesses. Trump and his co-defendants have consistently denied any wrongdoing in this case.

The trial featured the testimony of a real estate executive and appraiser, Doug Larson, who expressed surprise when he found himself cited in Trump Organization datasets as having provided advice on valuation methods. During the cross-examination, Attorney Lazaro Fields repeatedly questioned Larson about whether he had incorrectly appraised a building that eventually generated more income than initially predicted. Larson, who had appraised the building years ago for a bank, consistently stated that he did not make an incorrect appraisal.

The defense team argued that valuations and appraisals are subjective opinions, allowing property owners to craft their own figures. As Larson insisted on the accuracy of his appraisal, Trump displayed frustration with head movements and audible whispers.

Attorney Kevin Wallace, representing New York Attorney General Letitia James, suggested that Trump’s behavior might be construed as witness intimidation and requested that the judge instruct Trump to refrain from commenting. Judge Arthur Engoron complied, instructing everyone to remain silent while the witness testified.

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During the cross-examination, Fields presented Larson with nearly decade-old emails from a Trump Organization executive inquiring about valuations, seemingly contradicting Larson’s prior sworn testimony. Before Larson could respond to Fields’ question about whether he lied, Trump’s attorney Christopher Kise interrupted, suggesting that Larson consult with his own attorney. This action led to accusations of “witness intimidation” from Wallace.

Larson was briefly removed from the courtroom, and Kise clarified that he believed Larson should be aware of his 5th Amendment rights, as he believed Larson had perjured himself in his previous testimony. Upon Larson’s return, he stated that he did not recall the emails from a decade ago, but upon reviewing them, it seemed he had indeed discussed valuation methods with the Trump Organization executive.

Later, a lawyer for the attorney general presented deposition transcripts and emails that supported Larson’s consistency and truthfulness in his testimony, suggesting that he frequently discussed valuation methodologies with various real estate executives. This might explain his inability to recall a specific conversation. Kise objected, implying that the government was performing for the press.

Throughout these exchanges, Trump appeared intently interested, and outside the courtroom, he claimed that the government had withheld crucial evidence. He expressed admiration for his defense attorneys and likened the trial to a “Perry Mason” episode.

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