For the second day in a row, Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., testified in defense of the family business on Thursday at a New York City trial, followed shortly by his brother Eric.
What You Need To Know
- Donald Trump Jr. took the witness stand Wednesday in the New York civil fraud case that threatens their company's future
- The ex-president’s son is the first of his children to testify, kicking off a blockbuster stretch as the trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit enters its second month
- State lawyers have expected to call his eldest daughter, ex-Trump Organization executive and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, as their final witness on Nov. 8; on Wednesday, her lawyer filed an appeal challenging a judge’s decision to require her testimony
The former president’s sons denied wrongdoing on their parts and on behalf of the real estate empire, accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of inflating the net worth of the 2024 GOP frontrunner and the Trump Organization in financial statements to banks and insurers to secure larger loans and more favorable terms.
Echoing his testimony of Wednesday, Trump Jr. insisted that he only dealt with the financial statements in passing — signing off on them as a trustee for his father’s trust and providing them to lenders to comply with loan requirements. He reiterated that he did so while relying on assurances from Trump Organization finance executives and an outside accounting firm that the information was accurate.
“For purposes of accounting, I rely on the accountants,” Trump Jr. said.
“Unfortunately, the attorney general has brought forth a case that is purely a political persecution,” he added outside the courthouse. “I think it’s a truly scary precedent for New York for me, for example, before even having a day in court, I’m apparently guilty of fraud for relying on my accountants to do, wait for it: accounting.”
The civil fraud case is in its fourth week and while Donald Trump was not at the trial on Thursday, he has attended days of court proceedings and campaigned in the halls of the Manhattan courthouse, claiming the prosecution is political and baseless. He is scheduled to testify on Monday and his daughter Ivanka, who is not a co-defendant unlike her brothers, will testify next week.
“The RIGGED Trial being ‘presided’ over in Manhattan, without a jury allowed, by a TRUMP HATING, RADICAL LEFT, DEMOCRAT OPERATIVE JUDGE, has shown conclusively that the Trump Organization is Financially Strong, Powerful, Very Liquid, AND HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG,” the former president posted on social media. “This Election Interference case, brought by Racist and Corrupt Attorney General Peekaboo James, in close coordination with Crooked Joe Biden and Washington, D.C., Fascists, Marxists, and Communists, is a disgrace.”
James is a Democrat, as is Judge Arthur Engoron, who ruled before the trial that Trump's financial statements were fraudulent. The judge ordered that a court-appointed receiver seize control of some Trump companies, potentially stripping the former president and his family of such marquee properties as Trump Tower, though an appeals court has halted enforcement for now.
James is seeking $250 million in financial penalties and a ban on Trump from doing business in New York, where he built his wealth and public persona for decades prior to running for president.
Trump Jr.’s testimony notably revealed the previously unknown selling price to gaming giant Bally’s for the Trump Organization’s rights to operate a public New York City golf course: $60 million. The golf course came under scrutiny after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with then-Mayor Bill de Blasio arguing the city could end the contract because of the insurrection. While a state court ultimately rejected that argument, the Trump Organization sold the property early this year.
Trump Jr. said the sales price was $60 million but the Trump Organization had incurred “a lot of costs” over the years, so he wasn't sure of the net profit.
The Trump Organization managed the 18-hole Bronx course, which is visible from the Whitestone Bridge and boasts views of the Manhattan skyline, from 2015 until this year. The city spent more than $120 million to build the Jack Nicklaus-designed course on an old landfill, envisioning an East Coast version of the famed Pebble Beach links and major championships that never materialized. It's now called Bally’s Golf Links at Ferry Point.
Bally’s did not immediately return a request for comment.
Like his brother, Eric Trump denied any involvement in his father’s financial statements, testifying: “I never had anything to do with the statement of financial condition.”
A state lawyer later pointed to an email Eric Trump received as far back as 2013 from a company executive who was asking for help with information he needed for Donald Trump’s financial statement.
“So you did know about your father’s annual financial statement as of August 2013?” state lawyer Andrew Amer asked.
“It appears that way,” Eric Trump said.
Donald Trump Jr. said that, despite the state’s allegations, he still believed his father’s financial statements were “materially accurate." His father has said that, if anything, the numbers listed on the documents low-balled his wealth and the value of his skyscrapers, golf courses and other properties.
His father’s lawyers did not cross-examine him.
Spectrum News' Ayanna Harry contributed to this report.