Trump Jr set to return to witness stand as defense makes case in fraud trial

Donald Trump Jr is expected to take the witness stand in New York for a second time as defense lawyers for the family firm make their case in the $250m fraud trial.

Trump Jr is the first witness to testify from the defense’s witness list, which also includes Donald Trump and Eric Trump as witnesses, though it is unclear whether they will end up being called.

The New York attorney general’s office is suing Trump, his adult sons and other executives at the Trump Organization for inflating the value of assets on financial statements. They rested their case after Ivanka Trump testified last Wednesday. Trump faces a fine of at least $250m if found guilty at the end of the trial. The New York judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled Trump should have his business licenses revoked for fraud, though the ruling is going through an appellate court.

Trump’s eldest son had taken the stand on 1 November, where he said he did not work on the financial statements on the case – though he signed multiple documents affirming their fairness and accuracy – and said he expected banks to do their own “due diligence” rather than relying on the financial statements.

“I know a lot of bankers that do their own due diligence,” Trump Jr said on the stand.

Trump’s team did not question him during his first appearance. His lawyers will be trying to make their case that lenders were not harmed by and had actively sought out relationships with the Trump family. In testimony so far, the Trumps have downplayed the importance of the financial statements, saying they were exclusively handled by the organization’s accountants and legal departments and that the family typically had enough cash on hand to conduct deals.

Though they were presented with multiple documents showing they were consulted over the financial statements and had signed off on deals where the statements were used to affirm the family’s net worth, the Trumps said they did not recall working on or using the statements.

When Trump himself took the stand, he furiously ranted against the judge and New York attorney general Letitia James, whom he called a “political hack”. His children, especially Ivanka Trump, were calmer on the stand but similarly tried to undermine the importance of the financial statements.

Trump’s defense team said they will wrap up their witness testimonies by 15 December. The trial is scheduled to go until 22 December, though it could end before then.


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