Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. say they weren’t aware of fraud at NY trial
By JACK QUEEN, Reuters |
NEW YORK — Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. both testified on Thursday that they had no involvement with documents that a judge has ruled were fraudulently manipulated to inflate the value of trophy properties and other assets owned by their father Donald Trump.
In back-to-back appearances in a New York courtroom, Trump’s adult sons both said they were not involved in the questionable valuations that now threaten to hobble the real estate empire that vaulted Trump to prominence. Trump put the two in charge of the business while he served as president from 2017 to 2021.
Donald Jr. blamed accountants, both inside and outside the company, who assembled the financial statements that were used to secure loans and insurance that allowed the company to keep functioning.
“They had more information and details on all of this than I would have,” he said on the witness stand.
Eric said he was not even aware that such documents existed.
“I didn’t know anything about it, until this case came to fruition,” he testified.
Eric Trump’s assertion was undercut by emails showing that he was sent underlying data used to compile his father’s annual financial statements and was asked to weigh in.
Neither son vouched for the accuracy of the documents in question.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump, his two adult sons and the company fraudulently inflated asset values to win favorable financing terms.
Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has testified that Trump directed them to exaggerate the value of assets like Trump Tower in order to win better financing terms and bolster his reported net worth.
Trump to return
Trump himself is scheduled to testify on Monday—the latest in many courtroom appearances by the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
James is seeking at least $250 million in damages, as well as a permanent ban on Trump, Donald Jr. and his son Eric from running businesses in the state.
Engoron has ordered the dissolution of companies that control pillars of Trump’s real estate portfolio, including Trump Tower in Manhattan. That ruling is on hold while Trump appeals.
The trial is expected to last through December.
The former president has appeared several times to observe the proceedings and complain about the case to the TV cameras assembled in the hallway outside. Last week, he sat glowering at the defendant’s table during Cohen’s testimony.
The trial is one of many legal troubles Trump must contend with as he campaigns to retake the White House. He faces a total of 91 felony charges in four separate criminal prosecutions, including two cases stemming from his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
Nevertheless, Trump holds a commanding lead over his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of his criminal and civil cases and has kept up a steady stream of attacks in person and online accusing James and Engoron of political bias. “This is a great Miscarriage of Justice,” he wrote on social media as the trial resumed on Thursday.
Trump has not faced sanctions for those attacks, but Engoron has fined him $15,000 for twice violating a limited gag order that bars him from speaking publicly about court staff.
He is also under a limited gag order for the federal election subversion trial in Washington. Trump has alleged that both violate his right to free speech. — Reuters