Donald Trump Jr. returned to court Monday, something of a character witness to his father’s real estate empire, speaking exuberantly about the former president’s “incredible vision” and his portfolio of “big, iconic projects” to the civil fraud trial in New York now threatens the future of his company.
The namesake son made another appearance at the Manhattan trial as defense attorneys began calling their own witnesses. Trump Jr. first testified two weeks ago, summoned by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing the Trump family business.
“I would say it’s good to be here, your honor, but I have a feeling the attorney general would prosecute me for perjury if I said that,” he joked Monday before launching into a story detailed and rose-colored Trump Organization family. .
James, a Democrat, claims that Donald Trump, his company and his top executives, including his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., exaggerated his wealth by billions of dollars in its annual financial statements. The documents were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals. James is seeking more than $300 million for what she considers ill-gotten gains, and she wants the defendants barred from doing business in New York.
The defendants deny any wrongdoing, and the former president and current Republican frontrunner insisted fiery testimony last week, his company is “the opposite of fraud.” Eric Trump and his sister Ivanka Trumpformer Trump Organization executive and White House advisor, also spoke.
Trump Jr.’s testimony Monday set the tone for the defense that is expected to last until mid-December. After a six-week case that focused on financial statements, spreadsheets and loan agreements, the scion aimed to show a broader — and gleaming — picture of the Trump Organization to the judge who will decide its fate .
Questioned by his own lawyer, he spent more than an hour narrating a slideshow titled “The Trump Story,” complete with a timeline of the company’s evolution and photographs of golf courses, hotels and other major projects. He spoke enthusiastically about his father’s early years as a Manhattan skyscraper developer and the “vision he had to do things differently.”
“He’s an artist with real estate. He sees things that other people don’t see,” Trump Jr. testified, highlighting his father’s accomplishments while ignoring his casino bankruptcies and other failures.
During his first round of testimony Earlier this month, the son said he never worked on the annual financial statements at the heart of James’ lawsuit. He said he relied on the company’s longtime CFO and outside accountants to verify their accuracy.
At times, his testimony Monday sounded like a real estate pitch or an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” State Attorney Colleen Faherty tried to prevent this superlative spiel, arguing that Trump Jr.’s amplified testimony was “not focused on anything relevant” to the case. Justice Arthur Engoron disagreed, saying he found it interesting.
After Trump Jr. finished his sunny portrait, Faherty noted a Bloomberg report Friday that the company’s loan for a Wall Street office building had been sent to a special servicer, a sign that there may be a risk of payment default. Trump’s lawyers blamed the loan issue on the civil case. Her company said she had never missed a payment and was in full compliance with the terms of the loan.
Faherty also pointed out that the owner of a Trump-branded and managed hotel in Honolulu announced Friday that he would buy out the deal, partner with Hilton and rename the resort.
“Is this dropping the Trump name? » » asked Faherty.
“If they want to buy him back for millions of dollars, I’m OK with that,” Trump Jr. responded.
Before the trial, Engoron ruled that Donald Trump and the other defendants committed fraud by inflating his net worth and the value of assets in its financial statements. The judge imposed a sanction that could deprive Trump of some high-profile properties, although an appeals court is keep them under control for the moment.
Trump’s lawyers argue the state has met “no legal standard” to prove the rest. allegations at issue during the trial: conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsification of business records.
Engoron last week rejected the defense’s request to end the trial early through what is known as a directed verdict. Engoron did not rule on the request, but indicated the trial would continue as scheduled.
When he became president in 2017, Donald Trump turned the day-to-day management of his business over to Eric and Donald Trump Jr. and named Trump Jr. a trustee of a trust he created to hold his assets during his term.
Asked Monday about his vision for the future of the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. said with a chuckle: “I guess a lot of it depends on what happens next November.” We’ll probably be put on hold for a little while, for the foreseeable future, and chased into oblivion. But after that, we will continue to do what we do. »