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Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media after testifying during his civil fraud trial in New York on November 6, 2023.
When Donald Trump launches his defense Monday against allegations that he, his adult sons and his business defrauded lenders and insurers to enrich themselves, the first witness his lawyers will call is the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. , while they aim to convince the judge that they did nothing wrong intentionally.
Under oath, he denied any role in preparing his father’s financial statements and said he consulted lawyers and accountants before signing the statements as trustee of his father’s trust and certifying them annually. ‘accuracy to the banks that lent them millions of dollars. The Trumps also argued that banks were happy to have their belongings.
Trump’s lawyers, who launched their case in the seventh week of the trial, are recalling some of the state’s witnesses as they present their defense to the allegations.
In addition to Trump Jr., Trump’s lawyers said they would likely recall Eric Trump and the former president, both of whom have already testified.
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The thrust of Trump’s defense is that the financial statements were not misleading and that different people can give different values for the same property.
The defense argued that there was no intent to defraud banks or insurers, in part because the Trump family relied on accountants, and that the differences in value between the properties were not significant. .
Trump’s team argued that financial statements were not important in the decision of lenders to lend money or insurers to write policies. Additionally, they claim that no banks lost money and none claimed they were defrauded or misled by financial statements.
When Trump Jr. speaks, he will be questioned by lawyers representing the Trump family and business. That will give him more leeway in the type of questions and answers he can give than when he was questioned by the state’s attorneys. It will also expose him to cross-examination by the state’s attorneys.
Trump’s lawyers have not cross-examined the former president or any of his family members — the lawyers conducting cross-examination are limited to questions that fall within the scope of the state’s attorney’s questions. By recalling Trump Jr. and others, their answers can be more explanatory and not limited to the “yes” or “no” answers that the attorney general’s office had tried to emphasize.
Donald Trump said during his testimony that his lawyers would call bankers to testify about the processes they used in their underwriting decisions. And their team plans to call Trump Organization executives and several expert witnesses on valuations and accounting.
Judge Arthur Engoron said Thursday he would allow Trump’s lawyers to call the expert witnesses, rejecting efforts by the attorney general’s office to block their testimony.
In September, before the trial began, Engoron ruled that the Trumps engaged in “persistent and repeated fraud” by inflating the value of assets in financial statements.
The state is trying to prove six other allegations, including conspiracy, falsifying business records, publishing false financial statements and insurance fraud. The attorney general’s office is seeking to collect millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains and ban the Trumps from doing business in New York state.
Over six weeks, state prosecutors presented hundreds of pages of documents and called 25 witnesses, including Trump, his sons and his eldest daughter. Ivanka Trump, before ending their case last week. They also called accountants, current and former Trump Organization officials, appraisers, an insurer, a bank risk manager and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. Additionally, the state called an expert witness who testified that the Trumps improperly earned at least $168 million from better interest rates on loans.
Ivanka Trump was initially charged in the case, but a court in June rejected the requests against her.
The state alleges the Trumps were involved in the valuation of the properties in the financial statements; that the documents were guaranteed by Trump and Trump Jr.; and that they were passed to external accountants, lenders, insurers and government officials involved in two properties.
Trump’s lawyers plan to complete their defense by December 15.