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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Trump expected to attend Manhattan fraud trail as his lawyers fight for his business legacy

Former U.S. President Donald Trump Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the California GOP convention on Sept. 29, 2023, in Anaheim, California.    (David McNew/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Molly Crane-Newman, New York Daily News

Donald Trump is expected to appear in a Manhattan courtroom Monday to watch his lawyers fight for his business legacy as the trial kicks off in New York Attorney General Tish James’ multibillion-dollar financial fraud case against the former president’s family real estate empire.

Trump is expected to make the trip downtown after sleeping overnight high atop Fifth Ave. in his sawtoothed namesake tower. The skyscraper is among several properties in the former president’s real estate portfolio central to the AG’s case and potentially on its way out of his hands.

James is expected to travel to the courthouse from her Liberty St. offices downtown, which are next door to Trump’s 40 Wall St. property, which is also central to her case. She accuses Trump of more than doubling the value of his green lantern-topped tower in 2012 and added even more digits to the fake price tag in the ensuing years.

The trial, expected to last several months, kicks off on the heels of the AG’s major win last week when Judge Arthur Engoron ruled in her favor on the top claim. Engoron on Tuesday found Trump and his co-defendants liable for engaging in persistent and repeated fraud while running his business from 2011 to 2021 and ordered he be stripped of all owned and controlled New York business certificates.

Engoron’s ruling found Trump and his execs habitually cooked the books to make him seem richer than he was. In declaring him legally a fraudster, Engoron found Trump told quickly disprovable lies about assets emblazoned with his name — like tripling the size of his 66th-floor Trump Tower triplex in 2015, making it triple the value of the city’s then-most-expensive apartment.

Based on numbers Trump doesn’t dispute, the judge’s summary judgment ruling found he falsely inflated his net worth by up to $2.2 billion some years before his presidency.

Trump will come face to face with Engoron and the AG and is still seething from the stunning legal defeat, having spent the better part of the last week tearing into them at rallies and on his Truth Social platform.

With less than 12 hours to go before his expected arrival, Trump took to his social media site late Monday to lambast James, who is Black, as “corrupt and Racist” and Engoron as “unfair, unhinged, and vicious in his PURSUIT of me.”

The AG will argue at trial that the purpose of inflating the buildings’ value – and his own – was to convince banks to agree to better loan terms, insurers to sign off on higher coverage limits at lower premiums, save on taxes, and score other illegal cost-saving measures. She says evidence at trial will show Trump actually inflated his net worth by up to $3.6 billion in the decade covered.

In the lead up to the trial, Trump’s side has argued the AG is misrepresenting standard top executive negotiations as crimes and says her case’s alleged victims are banks that got richer doing business with Trump.

James says more than 200 financial statements tallying Trump’s net worth year to year from 2011 to 2021 teem with lies. Trump and his trustees – his eldest son, Don Jr., and his convicted CFO Allen Weisselberg – are expected to face a grilling from AG lawyers on falsely certifying their accuracy toward the end of her case. Trump and his son, Eric, plead the Fifth hundreds of times in their depositions with the AG.

Though Trump has already suffered a crushing blow in the case last week, and his liberty is not at stake, the remedies now sought by the AG carry life-changing repercussions, striking at the core of Trump’s billionaire businessman identity.

On top of seeking an estimated $250 million stolen through illegally obtained interest savings and transaction profits, James wants to ostracize Trump and his associates from conducting business in the city where he created his image as a dynamo deal maker after inheriting his father’s sprawling housing empire.

Expecting Trump’s arrival to the trial to to draw a media circus, state and federal law enforcement were securing the perimeter for the ex-prez’s arrival more than 24 hours before showtime.

Officials dealt with bogus bomb threats, white powder scares, and death threats when Trump last appeared in Manhattan in April, where he pleaded not guilty to charges by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office related to the hush money payment.

The Secret Service is expected to sweep the building before Trump’s arrival through a back entrance, sources told the Daily News.

Trump is also facing four criminal cases and multiple lawsuits. In all cases, he denies the allegations.