Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday that he never worked on his father’s financial statements, documents that now threaten former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire in a civil fraud trial.
The former president’s eldest son is the executive vice president of the family’s Trump Organization and was a trustee to hold his father’s assets while he was in the White House.
At least one of the annual financial statements said the trustees were “liable” to the document. But Donald Trump Jr. said he did not recall working on any of the financial statements and had “no specific knowledge” of them.
The indictment centers on the former president and his businesses misleading banks and insurers by inflating their net worth on their financial statements. He and other defendants, including his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, have denied wrongdoing.
Trump Jr. said he signed statements as a trustee but left the job to outside accountants and Alan Weiselberg, the company’s chief financial officer.
“As a trustee, I have an obligation to listen to those who are experts — those who have knowledge of these things,” he said.
“I wasn’t working on the document, but if they told me it was accurate based on their mathematical assessment of all the materials, these guys had incredible depth of knowledge, and I would trust them,” he said.
The first family member to testify, he is going to return to the stand Thursday. His next brother and executive vice president of the Trump Organization is Eric Trump and Monday, their father – family patriarch, company founder, former president and the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican race.
Daughter Ivanka, a former trumpet company executive and White House consultant, is scheduled to take the position 8. November. But her lawyers on Wednesday appealed the decision of Judge Arthur Engoron to get her testimony.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed the suit, alleging that Donald Trump, his company and senior executives, including Eric and Donald Jr., conspired to overstate his wealth by billions of dollars in financial statements. The documents are given to banks, insurers and others to get loans and make deals.
The former president called the case a “hoax,” a “fraud” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
James is a Democrat who, like Engron, said Trump’s financial statements were falsified before the trial began. A judge has ordered a court-appointed receiver to take over some of Trump’s companies, potentially stripping the former president and his family of upscale properties like Trump Tower, though an appeals court has stayed enforcement for now.
“Leave my kids alone,” Trump wrote in a post on his Truth social page Wednesday before his court appearance.
Ingoron decides the current issue; State law does not allow juries in such cases, he said.
Trump is being subpoenaed by James’ office, but defense attorneys will likely be questioned and subpoenaed later as part of the defense’s case.
During 85 minutes of his testimony on Wednesday, Trump Jr. seemed composed, muttering, “I should have put on makeup,” as news photographers took pictures of him before the questioning began.
He cracked some more jokes when asked about his education and career. Asked if he was a member of the accountant’s firm, he replied, “It sounds interesting, but no.”
More seriously, he appears to have laid the groundwork for blaming the deficiencies in the financial statements on Donald Bender, the Trump Organization’s longtime outside accountant. Trump Jr. testified that the company had “a lot of confidence” in Bender, “He’s the point person for everything we’ve done, in terms of accounting.”
Bender, meanwhile, said last month that Trump’s company would not release all the information required for its financial statements.
During pretrial questioning, Eric Trump said he had “no involvement as far as I know in the financial disclosures.”
Eric Trump attended several days of the hearing, but his older brother did not appear in court until Wednesday. Outside the courtroom, however, Trump Jr. was a judge who repeatedly condemned the case.
“The laws don’t matter, the constitution doesn’t matter, general practices and business don’t matter,” Donald Trump Jr. said Monday on Newsmax. “It doesn’t matter. They have a narrative, they have an end goal, and they will do whatever it takes to get there.”
State attorneys have questioned other witnesses about the Trump children’s role in running the Trump Organization and their involvement in valuing their father’s assets and preparing financial statements over the years. Their names also appeared in various emails and documents submitted as evidence.
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump also appeared — briefly and substantively — earlier in the trial. A clip of his speech was shown during opening statements on October 2.