Trump to Return to Court for Showdown With Michael Cohen in Fraud Trial – US 247 News

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Donald J. Trump plans to return next week to the New York courtroom where his civil fraud trial is slowly proceeding, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a reappearance that is likely to bring him face-to-face with his former fixer Michael D. Cohen.

Mr. Trump attended the first three days of the trial that stems from a lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, and used the camera-lined courthouse hallway as an impromptu campaign stop.

He attacked Ms. James and the trial judge, Arthur F. Engoron, who has already ruled that Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his assets to gain favorable terms on loans and insurance deals. He used his social platform to attack the judge’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield, prompting Justice Engoron to levy a limited gag order barring the former president from attacking members of the court staff.

Mr. Trump complained on Oct. 4 that he was “stuck here” and departed, leaving behind a calmer and more orderly courtroom — so calm, in fact, that at least one member of the public has been dozed off during the trial. Since the former president left, four witnesses have testified, including two of his fellow defendants: Allen H. Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, and Jeffrey McConney, its former controller.

Mr. Trump’s return, first reported by Messengeris likely to coincide with the appearance of the most hotly anticipated witness so far: Mr. Cohen, whose congressional testimony in February 2019 that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his assets was the impetus for Ms. James’s investigation, which began the following month.

“It’s been five years since we have seen one another,” Mr. Cohen said in a response to a request for comment on Mr. Trump’s plans to attend the trial. “I look forward to the meeting. I hope Donald does as well.”

Mr. Trump may also be returning to New York for another reason: He is expected to sit for a deposition next week for a lawsuit brought by two former FBI employees, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who say they were persecuted by his Justice Department, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

While that proceeding will take place behind closed doors, the potential confrontation between Mr. Trump and his former fixer is likely to play out in front of a courtroom full of reporters.

On the first day of the civil fraud trial, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office, Kevin Wallace, played a video of Mr. Cohen saying under oath that he had been involved in preparing years’ worth of the annual financial statements on which the former president listed the value of his assets.

In the video, Mr. Cohen said that he and others at the company had inflated the value of individual assets to achieve Mr. Trump’s desired overall net worth. While he played, Mr. Trump shook his head and scowled.

Mr. Cohen is not just testifying against Mr. Trump in the civil fraud case. He is also expected to be the star witness in a criminal case brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which stems from a hush-money payment Mr. Cohen made to a porn star during the 2016 presidential election on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.