In back-to-back testimony Thursday, former President Trump’s two grown sons recused themselves from the key to the Trump Organization’s financial statements in response to the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against their family business.
Both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have said they had no involvement in their father’s financial statements, noting that they rely on accountants and other experts to make sure the numbers are accurate.
The Trump Organization’s financial statements — which detail the value of various properties and are sent to banks and guarantors to secure loans and deals — are the basis of the attorney general’s charge that the Trump Organization falsely paid and understated its value. From the property to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., testified Wednesday that he signed his father’s financial statements as executive vice president of the Trump Organization and trustee of a trust that held Trump’s assets as president. But he said he considers the work of accountants and executives like current chief financial officer Alan Weiselberg to be correct.
“As a trustee, I have a duty to listen [to] The experts — the ones with the knowledge of these things,” Donald Trump Jr. said, according to the Associated Press.
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Eric Trump, the former president’s second son, denied involvement, saying he had “nothing to do with the financial disclosure.”
But state attorney Andrew Amer pointed to a 2013 email Eric Trump sent in 2013 asking for information needed to complete Trump’s financial statements.
“So do you know your father’s annual financial statements up to August 2013?” Amer asked.
“Looks like it,” Eric Trump said.
Trump’s legal team has so far tried to shift the blame for the misrepresentations from the former president and his family to the accountants he counted. Trump’s former accountant, Donald Bender, was cross-examined for nearly a week as the trial began, and Trump’s lawyers sought to characterize him as negligent.
During an argument over questions Trump’s attorneys had asked Bender in the first week of the trial, Judge Arthur Engron said the accountant was “not on trial here.”
“I don’t agree with that,” Trump’s lawyer, Chris Keese, said.
“He was the gentleman who was paid millions of dollars a year [certified public accountant]. He has certain responsibilities… He only remembers what the government wants him to remember,” Kese continued.
“We need to allow us to analyze the evidence,” he said.
“You are not allowed to waste time,” replied Ingoran. “That’s what’s happening.”
Before the trial began, Ingoron found Trump, the Trump Organization and the Trump children guilty of fraud after the New York attorney general’s office ruled that it had proven the merits of the case.
While the appeals court held off on revoking the business license until it heard the case, the decision stripped Trump of his business license and put some of his famous assets at risk.
The trial will decide how much money the defendants will be fined and can determine whether one defendant is more guilty than the other.
On Wednesday, an expert witness hired by the New York attorney general’s office testified that the Trump Organization’s inflated financial statements cost banks more than $168 million in interest.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) has sought a $250 million fine and a ban on Trump and his children serving as officers or directors of New York companies.
Trump is expected to testify in the ongoing fraud trial next week.
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