October 4, 2023

By Michael R. Sisak | Related Press

NEW YORK — Donald Trump defended his actual property empire and his presidency in a face-to-face conflict with the New York legal professional normal suing him for fraud, testifying at a closed-door grilling in April that his firm is flush with money — and claiming he saved “tens of millions of lives” by deterring nuclear battle when he was president.

Trump, in testimony made public Wednesday, stated it was a “horrible factor” that Legal professional Basic Letitia James was suing him over claims he made on annual monetary statements about his internet price and the worth of his skyscrapers, golf programs and different belongings.

James launched Trump’s 479-page deposition transcript in a flurry of courtroom filings forward of a Sept. 22 listening to the place Decide Arthur Engoron might resolve half or the entire case earlier than it’s scheduled to go to trial in October. She pointed to proof that exhibits Trump inflated his internet price by as much as 39%, or greater than $2 billion, in some years.

Sitting throughout from James at her Manhattan workplace on April 13, Trump stated, “you don’t have a case and you must drop this case.” Noting his contributions to the town’s skyline, Trump stated “it’s a disgrace” that “now I’ve to come back and justify myself to you.”

Trump testified that he thought of being president “an important job on this planet,” itemizing as accomplishments his laborious line on China, guaranteeing Russia didn’t invade Ukraine on his watch and stopping North Korea’s Kim Jong Un from launching a nuclear assault.

“I believe you’ll have nuclear holocaust if I didn’t take care of North Korea,” Trump testified. “I believe you’ll have a nuclear battle, if I weren’t elected. And I believe you might need a nuclear battle now, if you wish to know the reality.”

James is urging Engoron to grant abstract judgment and problem a direct verdict endorsing her declare that Trump and his firm defrauded lenders, insurers and others by mendacity about his wealth and the worth of his belongings.

To rule, Engoron wants solely to reply two questions, James’ workplace argued: whether or not Trump’s annual monetary statements have been false or deceptive, and whether or not he and the Trump Group used these statements whereas conducting enterprise transactions.

“The reply to each questions is a convincing ‘sure’ primarily based on the mountain of undisputed proof” within the case, James’ particular litigation counsel Andrew Amer stated in a 100-page abstract judgment movement.

Trump’s attorneys are asking Engoron to dismiss the case fully.

They argue that lots of the lawsuit’s allegations are barred by the state’s statute of limitations and that James has no standing to sue him as a result of the entities he allegedly defrauded “have by no means complained, and certainly have profited from their enterprise dealings with President Trump and his company empire.”

Even when Engoron guidelines on the fraud declare, he would nonetheless preside over a non-jury trial on six different remaining claims within the lawsuit if it isn’t settled.

Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in subsequent 12 months’s presidential election, has claimed the lawsuit is a part of a “politically motivated Witch Hunt” led by James and different Democrats.

James’ lawsuit, involving allegations about Trump’s pre-presidential life as a businessman, is one among many authorized complications he faces as he seeks a return to the White Home.

Trump has been indicted 4 instances within the final 5 months — accused in Georgia and Washington, D.C., of plotting to overturn his 2020 election loss, in Florida of hoarding labeled paperwork, and in Manhattan of falsifying enterprise information associated to hush cash paid on his behalf. A few of Trump’s felony trials are scheduled to overlap with the busy presidential main season.

James sued Trump in September 2022, alleging what she dubbed the “Artwork of the Steal” — inflating his internet price and the worth of belongings like golf programs, resorts and his Mar-a-Lago property on his annual statements of monetary curiosity for at the least a decade. Her lawsuit seeks $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing enterprise in New York.

Trump stated he solely had the monetary statements made so he might see a listing of his many properties and stated he “by no means felt that these statements could be taken very significantly,” however that monetary establishments would often ask for them. Among the values listed have been primarily based on “guesstimates,” he conceded.

“I’ve a clause in there that claims, ‘Don’t imagine the assertion. Exit and do your personal work.’ This assertion is ‘nugatory.’ It means nothing,” Trump testified. Given the disclaimer, he stated, “you’re alleged to pay no credence to what we are saying in any respect.”

Trump answered questions with such verbosity on the April deposition — veering from evasiveness to bluster to filibuster at instances — that one lawyer anxious his seven hours of sworn testimony might go till midnight.

It was a reversal from a deposition final 12 months, earlier than James filed her lawsuit, through which Trump refused to reply all however a number of procedural questions. At that earlier deposition, Trump invoked his Fifth Modification safety in opposition to self-incrimination greater than 400 instances.

Trump testified in April that his firm, the Trump Group, has over $400 million in money. He claimed Mar-a-Lago is price $1.5 billion and a golf course he owns close to Miami is price $2 billion or $2.5 billion. He stated he believes he might promote one other golf course he owns in Scotland to the Saudi-backed LIV golf league “for a fortune.”

“Have you learnt the banks have been absolutely paid? Have you learnt the banks made some huge cash?” Trump testified. “Have you learnt I don’t imagine I ever bought even a default discover, and even throughout COVID, the banks have been all paid? And but you’re suing on behalf of banks, I assume. It’s loopy. The entire case is loopy.”

Trump shouldn’t be anticipated to testify in courtroom if the case goes to trial, however video recordings of Trump’s depositions could possibly be performed.

Related Press reporters Jennifer Peltz and David B. Caruso contributed to this report.