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Donald Trump Jr. back on witness stand in civil fraud trial in New York


Donald Trump Jr. returned to the witness stand Monday as lawyers for former President Donald Trump begin to present their case in the $250 million civil fraud trial that poses a threat to the real estate empire of the Trump family.

“You thought you were rid of me, your honor,” Trump Jr. told Judge Arthur Engoron as he began testifying in the case for the second time in two weeks.

“I would say it’s good to be here, Your Honor, but I think the attorney general would prosecute me for perjury,” he later joked.

When asked for an overview of his family’s business, the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. described it as “an international organization” that “runs like mom and dad.”

He is the first defense witness. His younger brother Eric Trump and his father are expected to return to the stand later for the defense to present its arguments.

None were cross-examined by the defense after their initial testimony. Testifying as defense witnesses gives their attorneys greater latitude in their questioning and allows them to control the narrative of their testimony, although each will be subject to cross-examination by the prosecutor’s office.

Trump’s lawyer, Chris Kise, said he expects their presentation to be completed by Dec. 15.

Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday while reserving the right to recall Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. Weisselberg and the company were charged with tax fraud in 2021 by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Weisselberg pleaded guilty in the case and the company was found guilty at trial.

Upon entering the Oval Office in 2017, Trump turned over management of his business to his adult sons and named Trump Jr. as administrator.

Trump Jr. spoke earlier this month, answering questions about his role within the Trump Organization and the degree of his involvement in financial statements that New York Attorney General Letitia’s office said James, were inflated for the benefit of the company. Former President Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump also testified at the trial this month.

James claims the Trumps have engaged in a years-long scheme to exaggerate their business assets. Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the nonjury trial in Manhattan, sided in part with James’ office in a September ruling, finding that the Trumps had committed acts of fraud repeatedly for years.

The Trumps have denied any wrongdoing over allegations that they inflated the company’s net worth by billions of dollars in financial statements, with the former president repeatedly saying it was a ” politically motivated witch hunt.

Trump said any errors in the statements were “insignificant.”

“I think the financial statements were very good, they were actually somewhat conservative and in some cases very conservative,” Trump said, claiming that some properties were actually worth even more than what was stated in his statements financial statements, which he claimed were prepared by his accountants.

Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said they had virtually no involvement in the company’s annual financial statements, which they signed. They said they relied on the accounting firm they hired.

“I rely on the accountants,” Trump Jr. said. “They were intimately involved in every aspect” of the filings.

Eric Trump claimed the same thing when asked what due diligence he did on the financial statements during his testimony: “I relied on a very large accounting firm. I relied on one of the largest accounting firms in the country. And I relied on an excellent legal team, and when they assured me that the declaration was perfect, I was more than happy to execute it.

Ivanka Trump also denied any involvement in her father’s financial statements and claimed she lacked knowledge about their preparation. “I suppose he would have personal financial statements that he would work on with his own accountants, but those were not things that I was aware of,” she said, adding that “that was not not something I was involved in.”


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