Former President Trump called New York’s non-jury civil trial against him and his business a “weapon of justice,” and again dismissed the proceedings and lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James that “meddling in elections.”
Trump appeared in court Thursday, days before he was expected to stand trial for a second time on Monday.
Trump reacted to testimony Thursday morning from an expert witness for the defense, New York University accounting professor Eli Bartov, who reviewed Trump’s financial statements at issue in the case and said there was no he found evidence of accounting fraud.
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Bartov confirmed that Trump’s financial statements did not violate accounting principles, and he suggested that any problem – such as a large year-over-year jump in the estimated value of his Trump Tower penthouse – just a mistake.
“My main finding is that there is no evidence of any accounting fraud,” Bartov testified. Trump’s financial statements, he said, “were not materially misstated.”
Trump, reacting to that testimony during a break in court, said Bartov was a “very respectable man.”
“I don’t know him, but he’s an expert witness. And he didn’t find any fraud. “And like the others, he said, what are we doing here? What are we doing here? This is a political witch hunt. It is intended to influence an election. This is also from the White House. This is not just a state cause because the White House controls the district attorneys.”
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Trump added: “This case should be over. This case should never have been brought.”
The former president, again, described the case as a “weaponization of justice.
“This is something that has never been seen on this scale called election interference,” Trump said. “It’s a sad day for our country when things like this happen.”
The former president and 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner added: “I’m sitting in a courthouse instead of being in Iowa where I should be, even though I’m leading by about 40 points.”
Meanwhile, in his time in court Thursday, the New York State Appeals Court on Thursday affirmed an October decision that halted the dissolution of the Trump Organization until the end of the trial.
The New York Appellate Division in October temporarily halted the dissolution of some of the former president’s most valuable assets amid a civil fraud trial.
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That ruling reversed a September pre-trial decision made by Judge Arthur Engoron, who found that Trump and his family’s business had committed fraud. That order stripped the Trump family of certain properties, such as Trump Tower and 40 Wall St.
Trump, who appeared in court in Manhattan Thursday, said the decision was a victory for business.
“The appellate division, New York State, gave us a very good decision,” he said. “Appreciate it. I think the country appreciates it.”
“Businesses are looking at this case. No business is going back to New York. No business, frankly, is going to stay in New York. A lot of businesses are talking about leaving New York,” continued Trump.
The trial, overseen by Engoron, stems from James’ lawsuit against Trump, his family, and his businesses. James accused Trump of inflating his financial statements and defrauding the banks.
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James filed the lawsuit against Trump “under a consumer protection law that denies the right to a jury,” a Trump spokeswoman told Fox News Digital.
“There is no option to choose a jury trial,” the spokesman said. “It’s unfortunate that a jury couldn’t hear how ridiculous the merits of this case are and conclude that nothing wrong was done.”
Trump and his family have denied any wrongdoing. The former president has repeatedly said his assets are undervalued. Trump has repeatedly said his financial statements contain disclaimers, demanding that the numbers be audited by banks.
Maria Paronich and The Associated Press contributed to this report.