In back-to-back testimony Thursday, former President Trump’s two adult sons have distanced themselves from the Trump Organization’s financial statements, key to the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against their family business.
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have denied any involvement in their father’s financial statements, suggesting they relied on accountants and other experts to make sure the numbers were correct.
The Trump Organization’s financial disclosure statements — which detail the value of its various assets and were sent to banks and insurers to secure loans and transactions — are at the heart of the attorney general’s lawsuit, which claims the Trump Organization falsely inflated and deflated the value. of its assets to benefit from tax reductions and better insurance coverage.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said Wednesday that he signed his father’s financial statements as executive vice president of the Trump Organization and trustee of the trust that held Trump’s assets while he was president. However, he said he was counting on the work of accountants and executives like Allen Weisselberg, then the chief financial officer, to be right.
“As an administrator, I have an obligation to listen to those who are experts – who have expertise in these areas,” Donald Trump Jr. said: The Associated Press reported.
Related coverage from The Hill
Eric Trump, the former president’s second son, has also denied any involvement, saying he “never had anything to do with the state of the financial situation.”
But state attorney Andrew Amer later pointed to a 2013 email that Eric Trump received from another company executive requesting information needed to fill out Trump’s financial statements, according to the Associated Press.
“So you knew your father’s annual financial statements as of August 2013? » » asked Amer.
“That appears to be the case,” Eric Trump said.
Trump’s legal team has so far tried to shift blame for skewed numbers in the former president’s and his family’s statements to the accountants who calculated them. Trump’s former accountant, Donald Bender, testified under cross-examination for nearly a full week at the start of the trial, where Trump’s lawyers sought to portray him as negligent.
In an argument over the questions Trump’s lawyers were asking Bender during the first week of the trial, Judge Arthur Engoron said the accountant “is not on trial here.”
“I disagree with that,” said Chris Kise, Trump’s lawyer.
“His attention to detail, which he was paid millions a year for – he was a (certified public accountant). He has certain responsibilities… He only seems to remember what the government wants to remind him of,” Kise continued.
“We must be allowed to analyze the evidence,” he said.
“You have no right to waste time,” Engoran replied. “That’s what it becomes.”
Before the trial even began, Engoron concluded that Trump, the Trump Organization and Trump’s sons were liable for fraud after ruling that the New York attorney general’s office had proven the crux of his case.
The ruling revoked some of Trump’s business licenses and put some of his famous properties in jeopardy, although an appeals court put on hold the cancellation of the business licenses until it heard his case.
The trial will determine how much money the defendants owe as a penalty and could establish whether one defendant is more responsible than another in the fraud.
On Wednesday, an expert witness hired by the New York attorney general’s office testified that the Trump Organization’s inflated financial statements could have cost the banks more than $168 million in interest.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) requested $250 million in sanctions and a ban on Trump and his children from serving as officers or directors of New York companies.
Trump is expected to testify next week in the massive fraud trial.
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