Trump Sons Deny Involvement in Alleged Fraud at Family Business

Emma Grant
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump arrive at New York Supreme Court for former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial on November 2, 2023 in New York City. Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump are set to testify at their father's trial in the coming days. The former president may have to sell his properties after Justice Engoron annulled his company certificates and found him guilty of fraud for years while growing his real estate empire after Attorney General Letitia James sued him for $250 million. Trial will determine how much he and his firms will be fined for fraud. Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

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 their father Donald Trump’s business.

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 U.S. president from 2017 to 2021.

Sons Blame Accountants for Alleged Fraud

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 in the civil fraud trial stemming from a lawsuit filed by New York state Attorney General Letitia James.

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.

He grew flustered when his assertion was undercut by emails showing that he was asked to weigh in on underlying data that was used to compile the valuations.

“We’re a massive real estate organization. Yes, I am fairly certain that we had financial statements,” he said.

Neither Son Vouched for Accuracy of Valuations

However, evidence submitted at trial shows that both sons signed statements certifying that they had provided accurate information to Mazars, the outside accounting firm that prepared the financial statements.

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 Manhattan in order to win better financing terms and bolster his reported net worth.

‘Make Me Look Sexy,’ Donald Jr. Tells Court Artist

Donald Jr.’s genial, sometimes self-deprecating testimony stood in contrast to the aggressive persona he assumes in political appearances. “Make me look sexy,” he told the courtroom sketch artist as he left the witness stand.

Trump Himself to Testify Monday

Trump himself is scheduled to testify on Monday – the latest in many courtroom appearances by the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 U.S. election.

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. That ruling is on hold while Trump appeals.

The trial is expected to last through December.

Trump Observes Trial, Complains to Reporters

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 regain the presidency. 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.

Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Attacks Judge and AG

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.


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Emma Grant is a highly regarded legal news expert with a deep understanding of constitutional law and its implications in contemporary society. With her extensive background in legal journalism and analysis, Emma Grant has established herself as a trusted authority on the intersection of law, policy, and society.