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Trump expected to attend N.Y. fraud trial despite Michael Cohen’s absence

Former President Donald Trump is expected to make another appearance at the $250 million civil fraud trial against him and his company, even though the witness he was planning to watch won’t be testifying.

Trump attorney Christopher Kise confirmed to NBC News that Trump would be in attendance Tuesday at the courthouse in lower Manhattan, where security was being tightened late Monday afternoon.

Sources had said last week that Trump planned to watch testimony from his former lawyer-turned-foe Michael Cohen that was originally scheduled for Tuesday. But Cohen said Friday he was dealing with a health issue and wouldn’t be in court that day as planned. Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the trial, said Monday that Cohen’s testimony would be delayed for at least a week.

Kise had noted to Engoron that Cohen was keeping busy on social media despite his ailment. “I know you can do that on a hospital bed, but he doesn’t seem to be infirm,” Kise said.

Cohen said in a statement Monday that he’ll be ready for Trump whenever he testifies.

“I am thankful the medical condition, while incredibly painful, does not require an immediate procedure,” he said. “I anticipate appearing as soon as the pain subsides. When I do testify, I am certain Donald will be in attendance, sitting with his lawyers at the defendant’s table.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case against Trump, has cited Cohen’s 2019 congressional testimony about Trump as having sparked the investigation that led to her fraud suit. Cohen at the time told lawmakers that Trump had inflated the value of his assets to secure loans and that he also deflated them for tax purposes.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Instead of hearing from Cohen on Tuesday, Trump and others in the courtroom will hear continued testimony from Trump Organization accountant Donna Kidder, who detailed the company’s bookkeeping practices Monday. Also expected to testify is Doug Larson, a former executive at the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. He’s likely to be asked about the company’s appraisals of a building Trump owns at 40 Wall St. in Manhattan.

Engoron held Cushman & Wakefield in contempt last year after it failed to turn over appraisal documents the state attorney general’s office had subpoenaed. The company relented after he issued a $10,000-a-day fine.

Trump attended the first three days of his fraud trial in New York, which began Oct. 2.

The trial, which Engoron has said is expected to stretch into late December, has been moving at a brisk pace in recent days, in part because Trump’s lawyers haven’t been cross-examining witnesses. Kise explained that decision, saying Trump’s legal team plans to call some of those witnesses, including former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

After Tuesday’s proceedings, Trump is scheduled to deal with another legal matter: testifying in a two-hour, closed-door deposition in a case involving former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, whom he has mocked publicly for years. Strzok and Page were critical of Trump in private text messages to each other while they were involved in then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is being deposed in relation to their separate lawsuits against the Justice Department. Strzok alleges he was wrongfully terminated from the FBI, while Page, who resigned as an FBI lawyer in May 2018, has alleged privacy violations tied to the public disclosures of her text messages with Strzok.

Trump’s was hit Monday with a partial gag order by the federal judge presiding over the election interference case against him in Washington, D.C.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan bars Trump from going after witnesses and prosecutors in the case. Trump called the ruling “unconstitutional” at a rally in Iowa on Monday and said he’ll appeal it.

Engoron, the judge in the New York fraud trial, issued a more limited gag order in the fraud case this month after Trump posted a message on Truth Social attacking his law clerk.

“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I won’t tolerate it,” Engoron said, adding that he was instituting “a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff.”

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