What to know about Day 2 of Trump's fraud trial
- Today was the second day of New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump, his company and two of his adult children.
- Judge Arthur Engoron admonished Trump after the former president attacked one of his law clerks on social media. He said he ordered Trump to remove the post and issued a gag order forbidding defendants from discussing members of his staff.
- The former president told reporters during a break that he'll take the witness stand in the case "at the appropriate time." Trump is on both the attorney general's and his own team's witness lists.
- Here are highlights from Day 1.
Trump says he'll be back in court tomorrow
Trump, who initially wasn't expected to be in court past lunch today, told reporters as he was leaving court at the end of the day's proceedings that he'll back to watch the trial again tomorrow.
“It’s been a very good day," he said. "I’ll be back tomorrow.”
James left the courtroom a short time after Trump.
Lawyers for both sides were in the courtroom with the judge for close to 20 minutes after reporters and spectators were cleared from the room.
Court adjourns for the day, but Trump and James stay behind
The judge adjourned the trial for the day at 4:30 p.m., but he asked the lawyers and AG Letitia James to stay behind.
Trump was still in the courtroom as well, but reporters and spectators were cleared out. The judge did not give an explanation for the private discussions.
Trump lawyer suggests ex-accountant was responsible for financial statements
During cross-examination this afternoon, Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez tried to pin the blame for inflated financial statements on Trump's former accountant, Donald Bender.
Suarez noted in his questioning that Bender was the only CPA — certified public accountant — compiling the documents, and that others involved like former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg didn't have that level of expertise.
Bender, who said he made $1 million to $2 million a year, said in response to questioning that he was the one responsible for making sure everything was submitted correctly. But he countered that the company should have provided him with proper financial data, including appraisals.
Earlier today, under questioning by the AG's office, Bender said that he'd compiled the financial statements based solely on information he received from Trump and his company.
Judge scolds Trump for posting disparaging remarks about staffer
When court resumed at 3 p.m. ET, Engoron noted that earlier today, Trump made a social media post about his law clerk that was also emailed to millions of people.
Engoron said that he ordered the post to be taken down and that personal attacks on his staff were unacceptable and would not be tolerated. He noted that he had warned the parties about such attacks yesterday. He finished: “Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff.”
He also said that violations of his order would lead to swift, meaningful sanctions.
Note also that the picture in question — which featured the staffer with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — was originally on an Instagram page she maintained in connection with a campaign for a civil court judgeship. That page is now private.
Trump appears to delete post attacking judge's law clerk
Amid all the delays, a post from Trump on his Truth Social platform attacking one of the judge's law clerks appears to have been removed.
Afternoon testimony delayed
The trial was supposed to resume at 2:15 p.m. ET, but now will not start until 3 p.m. No clear reason was given for the delay.
Trump has entered and exited the courtroom numerous times since it took a break for lunch at about 12:50. James, who'd attended the trial in the morning, made a brief appearance in the courtroom at around 2:30 and immediately walked back out.
Trump's lawyers were expected to cross-examine his former accountant when they resume.
Trump enters courtroom and then leaves again
Trump re-entered the courtroom shortly after 2 p.m. ET, and exited again around 10 minutes later. Asked if he would return, he answered “We’ll be back.”
He re-entered about 15 minutes later.
Trump campaign bashes judge during the break
While the former president was slamming James and Engoron's law clerk during the lunch break, his campaign sent out an email criticizing the judge.
Engoron is a "far-left Democrat" who says he knows "more about the value of the business empire Of President Trump than his banks, business partners, accountants, employees, and insurers," the email said.
The email also pointed to excerpts of articles from far-right websites that have been critical of the judge.
Trump slams judge's law clerk during court break
The former president blasted Engoron’s law clerk on social media shortly before the lunch break, and then amplified the attack in brief remarks to reporters afterward.
Trump had posted on Truth Social a different user’s Instagram post showing Engoron’s law clerk at an event where she posed with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. In his post, Trump insinuated that she had a personal relationship with Schumer.
Trump told reporters outside the courtroom soon after: “You saw what was just put out about Schumer and the principal clerk? That is disgraceful.”
Trump re-enters courtroom, 'likely' to stay for rest of trial day
The former president, who was expected to leave the courthouse during the lunch break in the trial, re-entered the courtroom around 1:30 p.m. ET. He is "likely" to watch the trial for the rest of the day, two aides told NBC News.
It's unclear what led to Trump's decision, but that would mean he'll be able to watch at least some of his team's cross-examination of Donald Bender.
Trump appeared to be agitated during some of Bender's first day of testimony yesterday, at times shaking his head and whispering comments to lawyers Chris Kise and Alina Habba.
Trial breaks for lunch
Former Trump accountant Donald Bender has finished his direct testimony and the trial has taken a break for lunch.
Accountant says Trump withheld records
Former Trump accountant Donald Bender testified that at one point he discovered that Trump and his company were withholding certain documents that should have been given to him as he compiled Trump's financial statements.
Trump and his company's then-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, had sent Bender letters asserting that they'd "made available to you all available records and financial data" and had "not knowingly withheld from you any financial records or related data that in our judgment would be relevant to your compilation."
Asked if he learned at some point the Trump had not provided him with all related records, Bender said, "Yes." He added that they'd failed to to turn over "paper documents over a number of years."
Trump says he'll testify in 'scam' fraud case
The former president told reporters during the break that he'll take the witness stand in the case "at the appropriate time."
"I will," Trump said.
Trump is on both the AG and his own team's witness lists.
He also delivered some mixed messages on the financial statements that the judge has already found are fraudulent, maintaining the statements were "incredibly strong," while also saying that there were disclaimers suggesting financial institutions shouldn't rely on them.
"There was absolutely no fraud," Trump said, calling the AG's case against him "a scam and a fraud."
The trial is back
Trump re-entered the courtroom after a short break and mouthed something to a person in the front row out of earshot of reporters. Once again, he avoided any eye contact with James.
The judge said he needs to be firmer in the length of breaks, noting that if people don't return in time, he's going to start anyway.
After roughly an hour of witness testimony, the trial is taking a 15-minute break.
Engoron jokes around, but Trump is not having it
Engoron has a dry sense of humor and there are often moments of levity amid the seriousness of this trial.
Trump does not appreciate any of it. He leaned over to Habba after the recent giggles and appeared to make a negative comment about the jokes.
Witness testifies financial info came from Trumps, not him
Continuing his testimony on the witness stand, former Trump accountant Donald Bender testified that the information he used to compile Trump's financial statements came from the Trump Organization, not him.
The judge has already found the financial statements were grossly inflated and fraudulent.
The AG's office is trying to show a pattern of behavior through documents bolstering Bender's claim, indicating he and the accounting company he worked for relied on documents that Trump and his company provided them.
That included entering into evidence a letter that Allen Weisselberg, then the Trump Organization's chief financial officer, sent Bender, which read, "We are responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the statement on financial condition in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States."
Engoron pushes back against Trump's claim that he tossed most of the AG's case
Engoron knocked down Trump’s erroneous claim yesterday that he’d reversed his earlier ruling and tossed 80% of the attorney general's case. The judge explained that’s not what he did, but that he knows Trump’s side disagrees vigorously and is appealing.
In general, Trump seems to be in a somewhat better mood today, not as angry as he confers with both Alina Habba and Chris Kise.
Day 2 of the trial has begun
The second day of Trump's fraud trial has started. Former Trump Organization accountant Donald Bender is back on the witness stand.
Trump is in the courtroom
Trump has entered the courtroom wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red tie. He is flanked by lawyers Chris Kise and Alina Habba.
Trump rails against James before entering courtroom
Shortly after arriving at the courthouse, Trump went on a rant attacking James as he denied wrongdoing in the case.
“This case should be dismissed,” he said. “This is not a case and she should probably be dismissed also because she’s terrible and grossly incompetent.”
“Her numbers are fraudulent, she’s a fraud,” he added. “The numbers are fraudulent, and this case should be dismissed and to get on to violent crime and solving the problems of New York City and New York state.”
He then walked into the courtroom.
Trump legal team disputes James' claim that it never requested a jury trial
Trump spokesperson and attorney Alina Habba pushed back on claims by James’ office that his legal team never asked for a jury trial. James’ office told NBC News that Trump’s attorneys never asked for a jury trial, and even if they had, it is likely they would not have received one.
“Many false arguments are circulating regarding President Trump’s Trial in New York and the possibility of a jury trial,” Habba said in a statement.
A Trump spokesperson also disputed claims by James’ office in a statement: “The Attorney General filed this case under a consumer protection statute that denies the right to a jury. There was never an option to choose a jury trial. It is unfortunate that a jury won’t be able to hear how absurd the merits of this case are and conclude no wrongdoing ever happened.”
According to MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin, the remedies sought by the attorney general are primarily of a kind that can be awarded only by a judge.
Trump, James arrive at New York courthouse
Trump and James arrived at the New York courthouse around shortly after 9:30 a.m. ET. The proceedings are expected to start around 10 a.m. ET.
Trump ramps up attacks against James in early morning posts
Trump has continued his attacks against James hours before he returns to court for the second day of arguments in the civil fraud trial that the New York attorney general brought against him and his company.
In two posts on his Truth Social platform this morning, Trump used derogatory terms to attack James while denying any wrongdoing against allegations that he inflated his assets.
“People are starting to see what a great company I built through the trial started by the Racist Attorney General of New York State, Letitia ‘Peekaboo’ James. It was all supposed to be private, but in many ways it is exposing great success. Incredible assets, lots of cash, and it only gets better,” Trump posted at 1:37 a.m.
N.Y. AG plans to attend today's proceedings
James plans to be in the courtroom again today, according to a person familiar with her plans.
She was in attendance yesterday when the trial got underway.
What happened at the first day of the trial
The civil fraud trial against Trump and his company began yesterday with opening statements followed by heated exchanges.
Kise also got into a heated exchange with Engoron over a question about the relevance of certain evidence.
Speaking to reporters after the first day of the trial, Trump repeated claims that the case amounted to election interference, arguing it was keeping him off the campaign trail as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination for 2024.
Trump's former accountant to continue testimony this morning
Donald Bender, Trump’s former accountant, is expected to continue his testimony in court this morning.
Bender was the first witness called by the New York Attorney General's Office yesterday. He shared details about how he compiled Trump’s financial statements.