Meet the Allies, Adversaries, and Key Players in Trump’s New York Fraud Trial

Gun Rights

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Donald Trump, three of his children, and the Trump Organization for knowingly lying about the value of their assets on financial documents in an effort to secure bank loans, better insurance rates, and tax benefits. It’s a civil lawsuit—nobody faces jail time—seeking to ban Trump from doing business in New York and force him to pay a $370 million penalty.

Before the trial started, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump’s financial documents were in fact fraudulent. That left the trial to determine the extent of fraud committed, how much the financial penalty should be, and the future of Trump’s business license. Prosecutors for the AG’s office and Trump’s defense team spent 11 weeks sparring in court. The former president himself took the witness stand, along with three of his adult children—and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal fixer turned nemesis.

The trial is nearly over now, with closing arguments scheduled for Jan. 11 and a final verdict expected in the weeks following. It’s a bench trial, meaning there’s no jury, so Judge Engoron will determine the outcome.

In order to help make sense of this case, Slate has put together a list of the major characters you need to know.

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Letitia “Tish” James

A "Guess Who?" game-style card with an image of Letitia James' face.

A "Guess Who?" game-style card with an image of Letitia James' face.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Dave Sanders/Pool/Getty Images.

Role: Attorney general of New York

Known for: A native New Yorker, James has spent nearly her entire career working in state politics, serving on the New York City Council for 10 years, then becoming public advocate for the City of New York—the second-highest-ranked elected official in the city. In 2018, she was elected attorney general, becoming the first woman and first Black person to hold the job in New York. That’s when James really started garnering national attention, like when she announced that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo had underreported COVID-19 deaths at New York nursing homes by the thousands. She also sued the powerful National Rifle Association in 2020, alleging corruption and mismanagement. And in 2022, James announced her office was suing Trump, his adult children, and the Trump Organization.

Current status: James has said that the 11-week trial “revealed the full extent” of fraud committed by Trump and “the defendants’ inability to disprove it.” Prosecutors for James’ office will make their closing arguments on Jan. 11.

Arthur Engoron

An illustration of a "Guess Who?" game-style card with Arthur Engoron's face on it.

An illustration of a "Guess Who?" game-style card with Arthur Engoron's face on it.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Jeenah Moon/Pool/Getty Images.

Role: New York Supreme Court judge

Known for: Engoron, a Democrat who was elected to the New York State Supreme Court back in 2015, has earned a reputation for being an unconventional jurist, cracking jokes during trials and including pop culture references in his rulings. He’s been unsparing while presiding over Trump’s case, issuing a gag order on the former president, then slapping him with $15,000 in fines for violating it—twice. And while Trump was on the witness stand, Engoron repeatedly chided the former president for evading questions and going off on irrelevant tangents.

Current status: Engoron is expected to issue a final verdict in mid-to-late January, after closing arguments on Jan. 11. That decision will include how much money Trump will have to pay and if he will be allowed to do any future business in New York.

Allison Greenfield

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game that features Allison Greenfield's face.

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game that features Allison Greenfield's face.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Jefferson Siegel/Pool/Getty Images.

Role: Principal law clerk

Known for: As Greenfield has been Judge Engoron’s principal law clerk since 2019, he frequently consults Greenfield for her perspective on his cases, and Trump’s civil fraud trial was no exception. Greenfield and Engoron passed notes and huddled often to discuss the trial’s happenings, which Trump was not happy about. The former president posted a now-deleted picture of Greenfield next to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer—accompanied by text mocking her as “Schumer’s girlfriend.” It’s a reference to when Greenfield ran as a Democrat in 2022 to become a trial judge for the Manhattan civil court, a job that’s hand-picked by local party leaders (she ultimately lost). Trump continued to attack Greenfield online and called her a “politically biased and out of control, Trump-hating clerk.” That behavior led to Engoron placing a gag order on Trump and his lawyers.

Current status: Greenfield will continue to show up through the end of Trump’s civil fraud trial—whether he likes it or not.

Michael Cohen

A card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game, featuring the face of Michael Cohen.

A card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game, featuring the face of Michael Cohen.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Alex Kent/AFP via Getty Images.

Role: Former lawyer and personal “fixer” for Trump

Known for: Cohen worked as a personal injury lawyer and businessman until 2007, when Trump hired Cohen to work for the Trump Organization and he quickly became his right-hand man, following Trump all the way to the White House. In 2017, Cohen admitted to brokering a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels the year before, among other campaign finance violations, implicating Trump in the process. Cohen ended up serving a short prison sentence. Then, in 2018, Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about how involved Trump was in business dealings between the Trump Organization and Russia. It was at that point that the two men’s relationship grew hostile—Trump refused to pardon Cohen—and Cohen edited his X profile to remove his employment status with Trump and hired a Democratic spokesman.

Current status: Cohen gave fiery testimony against Trump during his civil fraud trial, and he could do it again in the former president’s hush money trial.

Donald Trump Jr.

A card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game with Don Jr.'s face on it.

A card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game with Don Jr.'s face on it.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images.

Role: Eldest Trump son, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, and co-defendant

Known for: Don Jr. is the former president’s first child with his first wife, Ivana Trump. Now 46, Don Jr. initially stayed away from politics and his father’s corporate empire, choosing instead to live out of the back of a truck in Aspen, Colorado, hunting and fishing for a year after graduating from college. But in the end, Don Jr. ended up coming back into the fold of the Trump Organization. He spent the past decade playing a part in countless real estate deals, though father and son had a fraught relationship—at one point, Don Jr. refused to speak to Trump for a year. But once his father was in the White House, Don Jr. assumed control of the Trump Organization. By 2017, Don Jr. was embroiled in a Senate investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election after he met with a Russian lawyer in 2016 about receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Then, in 2023, Don Jr. was charged alongside his father for allegedly falsifying financial documents.

Current status: Don Jr. is currently executive vice president of the Trump Organization. He’s also on the campaign trail working to reelect his father to the presidency.

Ivanka Trump

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game with Ivanka Trump's face on it.

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game with Ivanka Trump's face on it.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Adam Gray/AFP via Getty Images.

Role: Trump’s daughter and former executive vice president at the Trump Organization

Known for: Trump’s second child with his first wife, Ivanka was born and raised in New York City and began modeling at the age of 15. She went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania—her dad’s alma mater—and graduated with an economics degree and eventually joined the Trump Organization, where she played a major role in developing some of Trump’s signature properties. Ivanka stepped down from her role at the Trump Organization in 2017 so that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, could become top advisers to the president during his time in the White House. However, Ivanka has gotten entangled in her dad’s legal troubles, testifying before Congress in their investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and again testifying in Trump’s New York civil fraud trial (the AG’s office tried and failed to also charge Ivanka in that case). But, unlike her brothers, Ivanka won’t be helping her father on the campaign trail. “I love my father very much,” she said in a statement to CNN, but added that she does “not plan to be involved in politics.”

Current status: In addition to testifying in her father’s civil fraud trial, Ivanka was subpoenaed by special counsel Jack Smith in his federal election interference case.

Eric Trump

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game, with Eric Trump's face on it.

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game, with Eric Trump's face on it.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Role: Trump’s son, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, and co-defendant

Known for: While growing up, Eric—also the son of Trump’s first wife, Ivana—worked on his father’s properties and went on to graduate from Georgetown University with a degree in finance and management. While he started working for the Trump Organization alongside his siblings, at age 23 Eric also started his own charity called the Eric Trump Foundation that focused on raising money for child cancer research for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. However, a 2019 Forbes magazine story revealed that the charity was funneling over $1.2 million of donations to the Trump Organization as a fee for using the Trump National Golf Club in New York’s Westchester County for its annual charity golf events. Eric disputed that, telling Forbes, “We get to use our assets 100 percent free of charge.” By 2016, Eric had stepped down from his charity following his father’s presidential election win and joined his brother Don Jr. in running the Trump Organization. Eric has served as a loyal supporter to his father’s political agenda, campaigning as his surrogate around the country.

Current status: Eric testified in his father’s civil fraud trial, claiming he never worked on any company financials.

Chris Kise

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game, with Chris Kise's face on it.

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game, with Chris Kise's face on it.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images.

Role: Attorney for Trump

Known for: Kise is a high-profile Florida lawyer who has been a fixture in state politics for decades. He tried running for office back in 1998, but was unsuccessful. He went on to become Florida’s solicitor general and argued four cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the state, winning each one. Kise also served in various supporting roles in the Florida governor’s office under Charlie Crist, Rick Scott, and current Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump hired Kise back in August 2022 shortly after the FBI executed a search warrant of Mar-a-Lago in search of classified documents, asking his Save America PAC for a $3 million upfront payment to cover Kise’s legal fees. But within months of getting hired, Kise was moved over to work on Trump’s civil fraud trial, where Judge Engoron accused Kise of misogyny for repeatedly calling out his clerk, Greenfield.

Current status: Kise will present closing arguments in Trump’s civil fraud trial in January and is also representing the former president in his federal classified documents case.

Alina Habba

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game with Alina Habba's face on it.

An illustration of a card in the style of the "Guess Who?" game with Alina Habba's face on it.

Illustration by Slate. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images.

Role: Attorney for Trump

Known for: Habba has represented Trump in a variety of cases, including his $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his estranged niece, Mary Trump. That case was ultimately dismissed. She also handled an unsuccessful “revenge” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, and a judge sanctioned Habba and Trump for filing a frivolous suit and slapped them with a nearly $1 million fine. Now, Habba is part of Trump’s defense team in his New York civil fraud case. She railed against Judge Engoron’s gag order that banned the former president from publicly commenting on court staff, telling reporters that she didn’t think it was necessary to ask Trump to stop talking about Engoron’s law clerk because the attorney general “is continuing to disparage” her client, adding that “both sides need to be able to speak.”

Current status: Habba, alongside Kise, will present the defense’s closing arguments this month. She was also recently appointed to a senior adviser role within Trump’s political action committee.

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