- Donald Trump Jr. returned to the witness stand. in the $250 million civil fraud trial of former president Donald Trump’s business empire in New York.
- The testimony comes days after Judge Arthur Engoron ruled out another request from Trump’s defense attorney for a directed verdict immediately dismissing the fraud claims.
- New York Attorney General Letitia James has accused Trump, his sons and his company of fraud, and wants to permanently bar the Trumps from running a business in the state.
Donald Trump Jr. returned to the witness stand on Monday to begin the defense case in the $250 million civil fraud trial aimed at the former president. Donald TrumpNew York business empire.
Defense attorneys spent much of their time questioning the Trump Organization’s vast portfolio of assets, and Trump Jr. took advantage.
Trump Jr.’s testimony offered little to directly counter the claims at the heart of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit accusing him, his father and other co-defendants of committing years of business fraud.
Defense attorneys began laying out their case four days after failing in their latest bid to dismiss James’ charges.
James accused Trump Sr., his grown sons Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the Trump Organization and its top executives fraudulently inflated the values of Trump’s assets to increase his net worth and reap substantial financial benefits.
The AG is seeking about $250 million in damages and wants to permanently bar Trump and his sons, who took over the Trump Organization after their father became president in 2017, from running another business in New York.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that the defendants are liable for fraudulently stating the values of real estate assets and other assets in Trump’s financial records. Engoron’s pretrial ruling also ordered the cancellation of the defendants’ New York business certificates, although an appeals court temporarily blocked that order from taking effect.
The trial, held without a jury, will determine penalties and resolve other claims in James’ lawsuit.
State attorneys rested their case against the chief last week, following testimony from Trump and three of his adult children. Ivanka Trump, who in June was dismissed as a defendant in the appeals court, was the last of more than two dozen witnesses questioned by the state.
In his first round of the stand in early November, Trump Jr. testified that he was not involved in the preparation of the so-called “statements of financial condition” at the heart of James’ case. He said he trusted the accountants the company used, particularly Donald Bender, a former Trump family accountant.
Bender previously testified that the information he used to assemble the financial statements was provided to him by the Trump Organization.
Trump Jr. is expected to face questions on Monday and Tuesday. But he was dismissed Monday afternoon, and the defense called Trump’s tax attorney Sheri Dillon back to the stand.
Last week, defense attorneys asked to dismiss the case, arguing that the AG’s office had found no victims or harm in the case. They point to the fact that loans obtained through disputed financial statements are paid on time and with interest.
Engoron has already rejected this argument, saying last month that the case has enough evidence to “fill the court.”
Trump and his allies attacked Engoron in and out of court. Trump complained about the judge, saying he “always ruled against me” and called the trial “unfair,” while sitting next to him during his sworn testimony last week.
Last Friday, House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik filed an ethics complaint calling for Engoron’s removal from the case.