In October, the main focus on Trump’s myriad legal problems shifted to lower Manhattan after his civil fraud case went to trial in the New York State Supreme Court.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed charges against the Trump Organization and alleged that, between 2011 and 2021, the company falsified financial statements regarding the development of several real estate projects and artificially exaggerated Trump’s net worth, in order to to obtain better financing conditions from banks and insurance companies.
To achieve this, he overvalued the former president’s most prestigious properties, such as his penthouse triplex in Trump Tower, located on Fifth Avenue, in downtown Manhattan, and his current residence at the Mar-a-Lago club, in Palm Beach (Florida).
His entire New York real estate empire is in jeopardy after a pretrial ruling included the cancellation of his business licenses in the state.
As the prosecution phase draws to a close, three of his adult children will take the stand to testify under oath, raising some questions: How are they involved in all of this and why is their testimony at trial important?
The fact is that Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump were executives at the family business at the center of the case.
The three were originally named as co-defendants along with their father, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, and former Trump Organization CEO Jeff McConney.
Donald Trump Jr. began his statement on November 1 and Eric did so the next day.
Both served at the Trump Organization on behalf of their father while he was president, and ran the company alongside Weisselberg.
They were also closely involved in the development of prestigious projects and properties, such as the Trump International hotels in Washington DC and Chicago, and golf courses in Miami and Westchester County.
Before the trial began, Judge Arthur Engoron’s previous ruling that there was fraud means that, as signatories of the fraudulent documents, Donald Jr. and Eric’s testimony is critical to understanding the operation of the company.
At the time of testifying on the stand, both failed to remember several details and assured that all the blame fell on the accounting and legal team in charge of preparing the financial documents that bear the signatures of both brothers.
However, according to documentary evidence, including emails, they would have participated in appraisals and contributed to the preparation of the financial statements that were provided to the banks.
For her part, her sister Ivanka managed to have her removed from the list of defendants earlier this year, when an appeals court ruled in her favor in June, because the lawsuits against her were too old.
The former president’s eldest daughter had already announced in January 2017, before her father’s presidential inauguration, that she was leaving her position as executive vice president at the Trump Organization to become an unpaid senior advisor in the White House.
Once his father’s term ended, he moved to Florida and has since distanced himself from the family business, as well as his father’s political ambitions.
However, she has also been forced to testify after state lawyers argued that she was instrumental in some events addressed in the case, and that to date she maintains a financial and professional connection with the family business and its leaders.
Judge Engoron agreed, citing documents showing that Ivanka remained involved in some businesses in New York and that she continues to own apartments in Manhattan.
During her years at the Trump Organization, Ivanka was involved in negotiating and securing financial resources for several properties, including a lease and loan for the former Trump International hotel in Washington, D.C., and loans for the Doral golf resort near Miami and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, according to court documents. According to the New York Attorney General’s Office, Ivanka maintained a financial interest in the operations of the Trump Organization even after leaving for the White House, for example, through a stake in the Washington hotel, which has now been sold.
During his brothers’ testimony, his appeal was denied, so he is now scheduled to take the stand on November 8, two days after his father testifies.
The prosecution is expected to finish presenting evidence once Ivanka gives evidence. Next, the defense will present its arguments.
In addition to the pretrial ruling, Judge Engoron must rule on six other charges, that is, falsification of commercial documents, fraud against insurance companies and acts of conspiracy, among others. In addition to the loss of business licenses, he could impose a fine of $250 million.
The trial is expected to last until the week before Christmas.
With information from the Associated Press.
Translation of Noelia Hubert