NEW YORK, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., is scheduled to testify in a civil fraud trial in New York on Wednesday afternoon, accusing the former U.S. president and his family businesses of having inflated the value of their assets in order to fool lenders and insurers.
Donald Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization and a co-defendant in the case, will be the first of Trump’s adult children to speak, followed by Eric and Ivanka Trump. Their father is due to testify Monday.
The trial is one of many legal problems Trump faces as he campaigns to retake the White House. He holds a leader on his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to take on Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2024 election, according to opinion polls.
The elder Trump also faces four separate criminal proceedingsincluding cases in Washington and Georgia related to his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
The lawsuit filed by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses Trump, his two adult sons and a handful of family businesses of inflating their assets by billions of dollars to obtain better loan terms.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly accused James and Judge Arthur Engoron of political bias.
“Leave my children alone, Engoron. You are a disgrace to the legal profession!” he wrote on social networks Wednesday morning.
Trump is under a limited gag order banning him from speaking publicly about court personnel, but he twice violated it and was fined $15,000 for attacking Engoron’s top clerk, whom he accused of bias. He faced no sanctions for his attacks on Engoron or James.
The Washington judge who oversees his federal election subversion trial also imposed a limited gag order. Trump alleged that both violated his right to free speech.
Trump is not required to attend the trial, but he has appeared on occasion, including for one trial. dramatic reunion with his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who testified against his former boss last week.
Cohen, appearing face-to-face with Trump for the first time since their acrimonious breakup five years ago, said Trump asked him to inflate asset values to arrive at the arbitrary net worth he wanted.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump would attend his trial Wednesday. He has planned a campaign event in Houston for Thursday, at which Eric Trump is scheduled to testify.
Donald Jr., who along with co-defendant Eric Trump largely took over leadership of the Trump Organization from his father in 2017, is a central player in the case, overseeing the crown jewels of the Trump real estate empire .
He also served as his father’s political attack dog, and his testimony could be another flash point in a trial punctuated by heated exchanges between lawyers and witnesses and heated arguments over the admissibility of evidence.
In September, before the trial began, Engoron discovered that Trump had fraudulently inflated his net worth and ordered the dissolution of companies that control pillars of his real estate portfolio, including Trump Tower in Manhattan. That decision is on hold while Trump appeals.
The lawsuit is largely about damages. James is seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban on Trump and his two adult sons from running businesses in New York, and a five-year commercial real estate ban on Trump and the Trump Organization.
Reporting by Jack Queen; additional reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis
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