Trump’s real estate fraud trial begins, Sen. Bob Menendez trial date set: 5 Things podcast

Trump’s real estate fraud trial begins, Sen. Bob Menendez trial date set: 5 Things podcast


Taylor Wilson
 USA TODAY

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: USA TODAY Justice Department Correspondent Bart Jansen has the latest as former President Donald Trump’s real estate fraud trial begins in New York. A trial date has been set for Sen. Bob Menendez. Rep. Matt Gaetz has moved to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. USA TODAY Personal Finance Reporter Daniel de Visé explains why fewer older Americans are writing wills. Two scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for work that led to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.  This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson, and this is 5 Things you need to know, Tuesday the 3rd of October 2023.

Today, Trump’s real estate fraud trial has begun. Plus, a trial date is set for Senator Bob Menendez. And fewer older Americans are writing wills.

Former President Donald Trump’s civil trial surrounding real estate fraud kicked off yesterday in New York, highlighted by an appearance from Trump himself.

Donald Trump:

There was no crime. The crime is against me because we have a corrupt district attorney, but we have a corrupt attorney general. It’s a witch hunt. It’s a disgrace.

Taylor Wilson:

I caught up with USA Today Justice Department Correspondent, Bart Jansen, for the latest. Bart, thanks for hopping on.

Bart Jansen:

Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

Bart, as a refresher for our listeners, what’s that issue in this case?

Bart Jansen:

Well, New York Attorney General Leticia James filed a $250 million lawsuit against Trump and his namesake company and a few executives at the company a year ago, saying that they were committing fraud and trying to correct the wrongdoing. Last Tuesday, the judge in the case, Arthur Engoron, ruled that Trump had committed fraud for a series of years in the valuations of various properties, some of them the best known in his company, like Trump Tower, and that those valuations then allowed him to borrow maybe more money or money at more favorable rates than he otherwise would have been allowed. And so the judge ruled that he had committed multiple instances of fraud in the valuations of the different properties, even estimates on the square footage of his own apartment at Trump Tower. And so the trial that began Monday is to determine the penalties that Trump and the companies will face now that the fraud decision has already been made. So what they’re determining during this trial, which could last three months, is, what will the penalties be?

Taylor Wilson:

Bart, Trump attended the opening day of trial. What was his appearance like? And is he expected to testify himself?

Bart Jansen:

He is expected to testify, perhaps not for a few weeks, but his own lawyers said that he, his sons, Eric and Donald Jr, who were executives in the company are all expected to testify. He arrived basically looking angry. He thinks that the fraud ruling last week was wrong, was unfair. His lawyers have vowed to appeal the decision, and he contends that this case is another incident of election interference.

Taylor Wilson:

So who else is on the witness list and likely to testify?

Bart Jansen:

There are dozens of people on the witness list. The judge has estimated the trial could last three months. Among those witnesses, besides Trump and his two sons, his daughter Ivanka Trump is on the witness list, even though she was not listed as a defendant in the fraud case. And another potential witness is Allen Weisselberg, who was the chief financial officer for the company. He has already been found guilty in a criminal trial of not representing some of the compensation that he got from the company on his taxes.

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Taylor Wilson:

Bart, you and I last week discussed some of the potential outcomes here. What are the most serious penalties Trump potentially faces in this case?

Bart Jansen:

It’s not entirely clear yet what all the penalties will be. In his ruling last week, the judge canceled the business certificates for Trump’s various businesses. On its face, that means that Trump’s businesses can no longer do business in New York State. And that’s part of what he was railing about before reporters. Attorney General Leticia James is seeking up to $250 million to punish Trump for this fraud. He contends that these are just differences in property valuations, that those numbers are always uncertain. Trump and his lawyer, Christopher Kise, each said that the banks knew who they were lending to. They were aware of the risks involved in those loans, that there were no defaults, and that the money was paid back with interest. So, it’s unclear whether he will have to yet potentially sell off those iconic buildings, such as Trump Tower, or have some other penalties imposed on those companies to keep operating.

Taylor Wilson:

Bart Jansen covers the Justice Department for USA Today. Thanks for your insight as always, Bart.

Bart Jansen:

Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

A judge has set a trial date for May 6th of next year in the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez for an alleged bribery scheme. The trial is set for just weeks before he’s set to compete in a likely contentious democratic primary to defend his US Senate seat representing New Jersey. Menendez faces corruption charges for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from three businessmen in exchange for helping them enrich themselves and trying to get them out of trouble. The indictment also accuses Menendez of working as part of the same scheme to benefit the government of Egypt. The trial date applies to four other co-defendants, including his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez. Calls for Menendez to resign continue to grow louder. Last week, fellow New Jersey Democratic Senator, Cory Booker, said that stepping down is best for those who Menendez has spent his life serving.

Republican Congressman, Matt Gaetz, introduced a motion last night to remove Republican Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, from the top position in the House. The move comes after a contentious week of negotiations to avoid a government shutdown. During that time, Gaetz had previously threatened to oust McCarthy if the speaker looked across the aisle for support. Hours before Saturday’s midnight deadline, McCarthy and Republicans put forward a temporary deal to fund the government through November 17th. The stopgap received bipartisan support in the House. Gaetz’s motion to vacate needs 218 votes to successfully remove McCarthy. He had an easier path to file his motion thanks to McCarthy’s own concessions at the beginning of the year. In exchange for votes from hardline House Republicans for his Speakership, McCarthy allowed house rules to say that any one member of either party can bring forward a motion to vacate.

Fewer older Americans are writing wills, and that can cause headaches for those left behind. I spoke with USA Today Personal Finance Reporter, Daniel de Visé, to learn more. Daniel, thanks for hopping on the podcast.

Daniel de Visé:

Happy to be here.

Taylor Wilson:

What is the research show on this, Daniel?

Daniel de Visé:

There’s been a decline going back to around 2008 or so when the Great Recession happened. Every year there’s one percentage point less of people writing wills. It’s gone down from 70% of older people to 60 or so, and it looks like the decline continues. And it’s kind of mystifying because our society is a little more litigious, seems like, every year, and it’s more technologically savvy. So it’s not hard to do a will now. But yeah, fewer people are doing them.

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Taylor Wilson:

And Daniel, what do the numbers say about non-white families when it comes to wills?

Daniel de Visé:

So, this research comes out of Boston College. They have a center for retirement research. And what they’re finding is that their best guess of the why is that if you look at the over 70 population, which is the subject of their study, it’s more diverse. Every decade there’s a slightly larger share of the over 70 population who are Hispanic and/or Black as opposed to non-Hispanic white. I think that group, the, quote unquote, “minority group” rose from maybe 20% in 2010 to maybe 24 or 25% in 2020. So that’s connected. And the reason it’s connected is, for all sorts of different reasons, Black and Hispanic families are less likely to write wills, to carry out wills to inherit money than non-Hispanic whites.

Taylor Wilson:

And Daniel, generally speaking, why do a lot of people not leave wills in the first place? I mean, what’s the barrier here?

Daniel de Visé:

Just think about it. Imagine thinking about doing a will. What does that mean? Right? What does that entail? You’re thinking about dying, first of all. You’re thinking about your children fighting over your assets, or not, which is why you do the will, right? But it’s just not pleasant and people put it off. I looked at survey data from an annual estate study by caring.com, and yeah, the most common reason, why have I not done a will? I’ve put it off. I don’t feel like I have time. I don’t have enough money to bother doing one, which is probably not a good answer because it is worth doing. People will fight over anything. People think it costs too much, and those are basically the reasons.

Taylor Wilson:

Well, as you said, people will fight over everything or over anything. So what problems can not leaving a will create for those left behind?

Daniel de Visé:

Oh, goodness. I mean, look at the story of Aretha Franklin. She was in the news earlier this year. If I remember correctly, Aretha, the great, great soul singer, didn’t leave a typewritten official notarized will, but there was multiple handwritten wills. One of which I think was found in a couch or something. And there was a fortune, and so it became very bad. And apparently, people fighting over the legacy of somebody often are what encourage somebody to go, “Hey, I’m going to do my will now because I don’t want that to happen.” But yeah, that happens. If there’s not a will that was prepared by a lawyer and is notarized and is airtight, all sorts of bad things can happen.

Taylor Wilson:

All right. Daniel de Visé covers personal finance for USA Today. Thank you, Daniel.

Daniel de Visé:

Thank you.

Taylor Wilson:

Two scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their work that led to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. The prestigious award was given yesterday to Katalin Karicó and Dr. Drew Weissman. The pair met in 1997 at a hallway copy machine at the University of Pennsylvania. Karicó was an assistant biochemist investigating Messenger RNA technology. Weissman and immunologists had recently joined the school from the National Institutes of Health. The two would go on to spend the next several decades collaborating, working on vaccine research. More than 600 million mRNA vaccines had been delivered to Americans as of this past May to protect against COVID. And the technology is now being explored to treat other infectious diseases, along with cancer, allergies, and more.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. If you liked the show, please subscribe and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. And if you have any comments, you can reach us at [email protected]. I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA Today.

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