When Donald Trump launches his defense Monday against allegations that he, his adult sons and his business defrauded lenders and insurers to enrich themselves, the first witness his lawyers will call is the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., as they aim to convince the judge that they didn’t intentionally do anything wrong.
Trump Jr., a defendant in the case, testified earlier this month when he was called by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which filed the fraud lawsuit.
Under oath, he denied any role in the preparation of his father’s financial statements and said he consulted with lawyers and accountants before he signed off on the statements as trustee of his father’s trust and certified their accuracy annually to banks that loaned them millions of dollars. The Trumps have also argued that the banks were happy to have their business.
Trump’s lawyers, launching their case in the seventh week of the trial, are recalling some of the state’s witnesses as they present their defense to the allegations.
In addition to Trump Jr., Trump attorneys have said they are likely to call back Eric Trump and the former president, both of whom also previously testified.
Trump’s argument: The thrust of the Trump defense is that the financial statements were not misleading and that different people can come up with different values for the same property.
The defense has argued that there was no intent to defraud banks or insurers, in part because the Trump family relied on accountants, and that any differences in values on the properties were not meaningful.
Trump’s team has argued the financial statements were not important to the decisions by lenders to loan money or by insurers to underwrite policies. Moreover, they argue no banks lost any money and none have claimed they were defrauded or misled by the financial statements.
When Trump Jr. takes the stand, he will be questioned by attorneys representing the Trump family and business. That will allow greater leeway in the kinds of questions and answers he can give than when he was quizzed by lawyers for the state. It will also open him up to cross-examination by the state’s lawyers.
Read more about Trump’s civil fraud trial here.