Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., testified on Wednesday that he was not involved in the preparation of his father’s financial statements at any point in time – including after his father became president in 2017 and he was appointed trustee on Donald Trump’s revocable trust.
Trump Jr. testified for 90 minutes in the civil fraud trial against the family and their business. He will continue on the stand on Thursday, followed by his brother, Eric Trump.
During his testimony Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty showed Trump Jr. the 2017 statement of financial condition, which Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled is fraudulent. The former president’s son said again that he didn’t help prepare the statement that year.
“I did not. The accountants worked on it, that’s what we pay them for,” he said.
Trump Jr. also discussed his roles and responsibilities in the Trump Organization since 2001 and as a trustee to the former president’s revocable trust.
While the former president has repeatedly attacked the judge on social media, his son on Wednesday often took a jovial tone with the judge, even joking with him at one point about the pace of his answers.
“I’m sorry your honor, I moved to Florida but I’ve kept a New York pace,” Don Jr. said, smiling at the judge.
Trump Jr. is named as a defendant in the $250 million lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general’s office against the former president, his company and several executives, including three of his adult children. (Ivanka Trump was originally named in the lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James, but an appeals court dismissed the claims, saying they were too old.)
The lawsuit accuses Trump Jr. and his brother Eric of knowingly participating in a scheme to inflate their father’s net worth to obtain financial benefits like better loan and insurance policy terms.
“As Executive Vice Presidents, the three children were intimately involved in the operation of the Trump Organization’s business,” the complaint states.
Faherty on Wednesday narrowed in on the licensing developments on Trump’s financial statement that year, asking Trump Jr. if he gave the accountants the $246 million valuation attached to the licensing deals.
Trump Jr. said he might’ve discussed the deals with the accounting team because he was the primary person on most of them, but that he did so without knowing they’d use those values in the financial statements.
“I didn’t give them a value of $246 million. I could have sat there and gone through each one of the deals individually with Allen Weisselberg, Jeff McConney, Donald Bender, and given them an idea of what I believe the cash flow coming from those deals would have been worth, not even knowing it was for the purposes of this,” Trump Jr. testified.
In a deposition taken last year, Trump Jr. distanced himself from the financial statements Engoron has already ruled to be fraudulent in a summary judgment before the trial began.
“I had no real involvement in the preparation of the Statement of Financial Condition and don’t really remember ever working on it with anyone,” Trump Jr. said.
“Again, people may have asked me about stuff tangentially that I gave them an answer to that they may have then utilized as a basis of knowledge to come up with whatever, but, no, not specifically as it relates to, you know, knowledge about the financial statement,” he added. Donald Trump Jr. has worked in commercial leasing for the Trump Org., including the company’s 40 Wall Street property at issue in the lawsuit.
Trump Jr. became a trustee of his father’s revocable trust when he took office and certified the statements of financial condition in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
He testified in his deposition that he relied on the accounting and legal departments at Trump Org. when he signed the paperwork.
“Those people would have more intimate understanding of the specifics of those things. And whoever was bringing me a document, if it was more accounting, it was probably from accounting. If it was more legal, it would be from legal. And, ‘Hey, are we okay signing this document? Do you believe it to be honest and accurate?’ And if they were okay with it, they’d have much more knowledge than I would ever be able to amass, so I would sign it,” he testified.
Eric Trump, whose name has been invoked at trial in relation to valuations for New York properties like Seven Springs and Briarcliff Manor, is expected to testify after his brother later this week.
Despite being dropped from the case, the AG’s office is still seeking to question Ivanka Trump about her involvement in a number of properties, among other matters, and she is tentatively set to appear in court next week.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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