NEW YORK – Eric Trump, son of former President Donald Trump, testified in court on Friday that he relied on accountants and lawyers to ensure the accuracy of financial statements and documents that have since been ruled fraudulent by a judge in the civil fraud trial facing the Trump Organization.
Eric Trump on Witness Stand for Second Day
Eric Trump’s testimony wrapped up before noon on Friday, after taking the witness stand for two days in the trial. The civil case, brought by the New York State Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that the Trump Organization engaged in fraud by overvaluing assets.
Up next is Donald Trump himself, who is scheduled to testify on Monday, November 7. He is expected to defend himself and his company against allegations of providing fraudulent information to banks and insurers.
Eric Trump Questioned About Role in Preparing Financial Documents
During a second day of questioning, the former president’s second son was presented with evidence showing he had signed off on the accuracy of his father’s financial statements when the Trump Organization was seeking loans for properties including the Trump National Doral golf club in Florida.
Prosecutors also confronted Eric Trump with emails where he discussed classifying his father’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as a private residence instead of a club venue. This classification would substantially increase the property’s valuation.
Eric Trump had testified on Thursday that he had no knowledge of those financial estimates, which Judge Arthur Engoron has ruled were fraudulently inflated.
On Friday, he maintained that he relied on accountants and lawyers to verify the statements were accurate before signing them. “I relied on one of the biggest accounting firms in the country and I relied on a great legal team, and when they gave me comfort that the statement was perfect, I was more than happy to execute it,” Trump testified.
Eric Trump Says He Was Not Closely Involved in All Aspects of Trump Organization
Eric Trump stated that he did not recall many of the interactions presented as evidence or was only peripherally involved in them as he oversaw other aspects of his father’s vast business dealings.
“I pick my phone up at five in the morning and I put it down at midnight. I have thousands of calls,” he said in an irritated tone when questioned by state attorney Andrew Amer.
Since Judge Engoron has already ruled that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization fraudulently misrepresented asset values, the current trial focuses on determining appropriate penalties.
Potential Penalties Against Trump Organization Weighed
New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking penalties upwards of $250 million against the Trump Organization. She is also pushing for a permanent ban on Donald Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. from ever again running companies in New York state.
Among other proposed restrictions is a 5-year ban on the Trump Organization acquiring commercial real estate in the state and a requirement to report any fraud to the attorney general’s office.
Donald Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Criticizes Judge and Attorney General
Donald Trump has vigorously contested the fraud allegations and has accused Judge Engoron and Attorney General James of political bias against him. He has shared extensive criticism of the trial and its conduct via social media and public statements.
For twice violating a limited gag order barring him from publicly disparaging court staff, Trump has already been fined $15,000. On Friday, his lawyer Christopher Kise again objected to that order, but Judge Engoron indicated he was not inclined to revise it.
Upcoming Trial Testimony and Schedule
The New York fraud trial, which began in late October, is anticipated to continue through December. Donald Trump is expected to defend himself and his business on the witness stand when called to testify on Monday.
Other upcoming high-profile witnesses include Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, slated to testify on Wednesday, November 9.
The trial has already included notable testimonies from Trump’s imprisoned former lawyer Michael Cohen, who stated Trump personally directed him to inflate valuations, as well as Donald Trump Jr., who said he had minimal involvement in the disputed documentation.
Broader Legal Issues Facing Donald Trump
The civil fraud trial is just one of numerous legal troubles facing Donald Trump as he campaigns for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump currently faces approximately 91 criminal felony charges stemming from four separate cases. Two of these involve his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and remain in office after his loss to Joe Biden.
Despite his ongoing legal controversies, Trump has maintained a dominant lead over other potential candidates for the Republican nomination. He is widely expected to make another run for the presidency.
The outcome of the New York civil fraud trial, as well as the other cases involving Trump, could have significant implications for his political and business future as he weighs a comeback presidential bid.