Trump’s defense at New York fraud trial begins with Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony

By | November 13, 2023

NEW YORK — The defense team representing Donald Trump in a civil trial accusing him of fraud began presenting its case Monday, beginning with the return of his eldest son to the witness stand.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued the former president and his namesake company last year, alleging a years-long fraud involving falsely inflating asset values ​​on financial documents to obtain better conditions from lenders and insurance companies.

Donald Trump Jr. began testifying Monday morning. When called to the stand alongside James earlier this month, Trump Jr. distanced himself financial statements, claiming they were the work of the company’s accountants. His brother Eric Trump likewise denied any involvement in the declarations. Both men are accused in this case.

“If they had assured me, in their expert opinion, that everything was OK, I would have accepted that and I would have signed accordingly,” Donald Trump Jr. said in his previous testimony.

A look at the civil fraud trial so far

On James’ side I rested last week after calling the two men, their sister and their father, to the stand. His civil case seeks to demonstrate that the former president and other defendants deliberately overstated the values ​​assigned to Trump’s annual financial statements.

The defense, in turn, denied any wrongdoing, saying no fraud took place and no one was a victim. Asset valuations are subjective, they argue, and no bank has been fooled.

In a pretrial ruling, Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York Supreme Court — who is overseeing the nonjury trial and will decide its outcome — concluded that the company’s financial statements were fraudulent. He ordered that all of Trump’s “business certificates” be canceled, although the precise wording leaves lawyers to debate what that means specifically for the company.

Trump, for his part, has long attacked the trial. Although he was under no obligation to be present on days he was not testifying, Trump appeared in person on several occasions and attacked the Engoron and James affair.

Trump is running for president again, and in addition to these civil suits, he faces four pending criminal charges. He has denied wrongdoing on all fronts and said he was politically targeted.

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Last week he testified in the NY case and clashed with Engoron, who berated him and urged one of Trump’s lawyers to control his behavior. During his testimony, Trump said the financial statements contained disclaimers that he said “fully protected” him and “warned the banks to ‘do their due diligence.’

He also said his wealth was greater than reported in the financial statements because his accountants failed to take into account the “value of his brand.”

Berman reported from Washington.

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