Donald Trump Jr. returns to testify in the fraud trial in New York as the defense’s first witness

Donald Trump Jr. witnesses for the second time in his family civil fraud trial in New York Monday and will be the first witness called by the defense as the case enters a new phase.

Trump Jr. is former President Donald Trump’s eldest son and top executive in the Trump Organization. He is also a co-defendant in the civil suit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James that accuses him, his father, the Trump Organization and other executives of orchestrating a decade-long $250 million fraud scheme by inflating the value of Trump properties and Trump’s personal net worth.

Trump Jr. testified earlier in the trial earlier this month when lawyers from James’ office called him to the stand to face questions about accounting records at the heart of the case. The state rested its case last week, and Trump Jr. returned as a witness for the defense on Monday.

“I would say it’s good to be here, Your Honor, but I’m afraid the attorney general would sue me for perjury,” Trump Jr. said. at some point.

Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony

In his early testimony, Trump Jr. hyped the family business and what he called his father’s “genius”. In response to questions from a lengthy slide show presented by the defense team, Trump Jr. discussed The history of the Trump Organization and many of the properties Donald Trump has purchased or developed.

“He’s a real estate artist,” Trump Jr. said. about his father, later adding, “It’s his canvas that he creates. He’s a creative guy and he’s good at building, too.”

Donald Trump Jr. sits in the courtroom for his family’s civil fraud trial at the New York State Supreme Court on November 13, 2023.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Trump Jr. cited what he said was his father’s unusual “vision” toward projects on several occasions. Lawyers for the state objected to the presentation, which included dozens of slides, but New York Judge Arthur Engoron dismissed their efforts.

“I think it is relevant to get the historical perspective. I will have no further objection to that,” the judge said.

Earlier in the case and during pre-trial hearings, Trump’s lawyers sought to explain apparently inflated valuations as a product of Donald Trump’s “extraordinary” vision. They said his assessments ultimately proved accurate as properties grew in value. Trump Jr. claimed a similar explanation on Monday.

“My father was at the forefront of creating … value,” Trump Jr. said.

He described a number of properties he said were in disrepair when Trump bought them, saying his father “saw the potential.” The judge in the case previously rejected an argument made by the defense that Trump’s inflated appraisals were justified because the properties later became more valuable.

As in Trump Jr.’s previous appearances during the testimony, he often joked, stopped to comment on the court sketch artist’s work and commented on the stand about pictures of himself and brother Eric Trump.

“I wanted to have so much fun with that picture, but I’m not going to. A lot of Photoshop,” he said at one point as Eric Trump was shown on screen, about 70 slides in.

Trump Jr.’s previous testimony

Trump Jr. was previously called to the stand on November 2 and 3 when the state called him to the stand. He testified that he trusted the Trump Organization’s accountants to prepare the so-called statements of financial condition detailing their father’s assets.

The defense did not question Trump Jr. at the time. His siblings Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and father, former President Donald Trump, were also called to the stand after Trump Jr.’s first appearance.

The younger Trumps played down their roles in preparing the accounts. Engoron concluded in a preliminary ruling in September that the documents fraudulently overstated Donald Trump’s wealth by billions of dollars and the value of certain properties by hundreds of millions of dollars. James’ office claims this allowed his family and company to cut deals with banks and insurance companies for significantly better terms than the Trumps would otherwise have received.

Trump and his co-defendants have all denied wrongdoing. The lawsuit continues with other allegations, including falsifying business documents and conspiracy. The judge is also asked to determine “disgorgement,” or the amount the state should receive for “uneven” gains.

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