The legal battle involving former President Donald Trump took a new turn on Wednesday.
Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, objected to the inclusion of four expert witnesses proposed by Trump's defense team in an ongoing civil fraud trial.
According to James, these experts—forensic accounting expert Jason Flemmons, real estate investor Steve Witkoff, Steven Laposa of Laposa Realty Advisors, and insurance expert David Miller—should not be allowed to testify. Their testimonies, she argues, would not be pertinent given Judge Arthur Engoron's ruling in September, which found Trump guilty of fraud.
Trump's defense team had 127 potential witnesses at their disposal. However, James focused her objection on these four experts, who are part of that broader list. They intended to use their expertise to strengthen Trump's defense against the fraud allegations.
James boldly requested the judge to bar their testimonies. Given the judge's earlier judgment, she said their insights would not add value to the trial.
In September, Engoron ruled that Trump's company had issued fraudulent statements to banks and insurers. The question of damages, potentially up to $250 million, is still under consideration in the ongoing trial.
Trump aims to call upon the experts to validate his claims about the Trump Organization's net worth. His defense team argues that the higher valuations of his company's assets were legitimate and not fraudulent.
Meanwhile, state attorneys are gearing up to personally convince the judge on Thursday, explaining why the four experts should be barred from testifying.
Amidst these developments, former President Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, was called to testify about her knowledge of the family business.
The legal saga has its roots in May 2022, when Trump's team disclosed expert witness reports from the four experts James now seeks to block. This was followed by a rebuttal expert report from Witkoff in June.
Engoron's judgment in September 2022, which found Trump guilty of fraud, was a major turning point. On November 2, Ivanka Trump testified in the case, and just a week later, James filed her motion to block the four defense experts from testifying. He wrote:
"Based on the Court’s Decision, Plaintiff’s affirmative case has been appropriately narrowed to establishing the Defendants’ intent to defraud, the amount of disgorgement, and facts bearing on Plaintiff’s entitlement to the forms of equitable relief not already awarded by the Court."
What happens next hinges on how the judge responds to James' request. It could further complicate Trump's defense if he rules in her favor. However, if the judge allows the expert witnesses to testify, a new dimension could be added to the trial.