Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP
Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his attorneys Chris Kiss and Alina Hubba in New York Supreme Court on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Former President Donald Trump appeared in court His New York civil fraud trial On Thursday, an accounting expert sought to bolster the defense’s argument that company valuations are a highly subjective process.
In brief remarks to reporters before entering the courtroom, Trump called the trial a “corruption,” criticizing Judge Arthur Engoren, who is presiding over the trial, and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case against him.
“We did nothing wrong,” the former president said.
Trump also praised Eli Bartow, a defense accounting expert who testified Thursday. Bartow, a professor of accounting at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said accounting standards provide broad latitude for valuation calculation methods used in individual financial statements.
A day after the former president appeared in court The fourth GOP presidential debate, which Trump avoided. The former president, who is leading the Republican primary, declined to answer questions about the GOP race Thursday morning as he criticized the attorney general’s civil suit against him.
The high-stakes civil suit strikes at the heart of Trump’s brand — the heart of his real estate empire. New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump for $250 million and seeking to bar him from doing business in the state.
Judge Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his co-defendants are liable for fraud.
The thrust of the Trump defense is that financial statements are not misleading and that different people can bring different values to the same asset.
The defense argued that because the Trump family relied on accountants, there was no intent to defraud banks or insurers, and that the differences in the values of the assets were not meaningful.
“My main finding was that there was no evidence of any accounting fraud,” Bartow testified Thursday. “On another note, my analysis shows that the financial position statements are not misinterpreted.”
“So in your expert opinion, the AG’s claims have no merit?” Enkoron asked.
“That’s totally my opinion. Totally.” Bardov said.
While he acknowledged there were errors in Trump’s financial statements, Bartow said, “errors like that are not uncommon,” noting the inflated price of Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower.
Bartow, who argued that Trump’s brand is worth $3 billion, looked for clues that something was wrong with the reports or statements, but said he “can’t find a single rule that was broken. I can’t find one.
In a tense moment, Bartow took on the objection of one of Attorney General Louis Solomon’s lawyers.
When Solomon objected that part of Bartow’s testimony was now beyond the scope of his expertise because he was not a banker, Bartow snapped at him, “Shame on you, talk to me like that!”
“You make accusations. I have come to tell the truth,” said Bardov. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
In September, before the trial began, Engoron ruled The Trumps engaged in “persistent and repeated fraud” by inflating the value of assets in financial statements. The state is trying to prove six other claims, including conspiracy, falsifying business records, providing false financial statements and insurance fraud.
“Donald Trump has enriched himself and his family with years of financial fraud,” James X, who was not in court Thursday, posted. “We have already proved the massive scale of his fraud. No matter how much he lies, facts do not lie.
The Attorney General’s Office objected to Pardo’s testimony, arguing that his detailed testimony about the complaint was not relevant because he had overlooked evidence admitted at trial.
On Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals agreed to stay the revocation of Trump’s business certificates pending the completion of a civil fraud trial and any appeals — a continuation of an earlier ruling by a single appeals court judge at the start of the trial.
Outside the courtroom, Trump hailed the decision as a “very good verdict” minutes after it was announced. His attorney, Chris Kiss, similarly told CNN that “the trial court’s numerous errors will pave the way for a much-needed and logical review.”
The Attorney General’s Office told the Court of Appeals that it had no objection to suspending the cancellation of business certificates.
Trump is expected to testify again at the hearing on Monday. In his testimony last month, he brought bombastic rhetoric to the witness stand. Spending his time aAttacks James and Engron.
The former president is barred from discussing court staff after a New York appeals court reinstated his harsh order late last month.
Engoron originally issued the order barring Trump from making public statements about his court staff after Trump made several comments about a clerk he said was biased against him.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes and Christina Scuglia contributed to this report.