Trump Jr testifies he ‘relied upon the accountants’ to ensure records were correct

Donald Trump Jr took the stand for a second day on Thursday in the family firm’s $250m fraud trial and continued to claim that he relied on his accountants to make sure their records were correct.

“Again, for purposes of accounting, I relied upon the accountants,” the former president’s eldest son told the court as lawyers for the New York attorney general quizzed him about his knowledge of the financial statements at the heart of the case.

Prosecutor Colleen Faherty showed a series of documents to Trump Jr, including an email that a Forbes factchecker sent to the Trump Organization that was eventually forwarded to him.

In the email, Forbes pointed out that the Trump Organization had told the magazine that Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower was about 33,000 sq ft, but Forbes cited documents that showed the apartment was actually just under 11,000 sq ft.

“Insane amount of stuff there in regards to the Forbes inquiry,” Trump Jr wrote to other Trump Organization executives in response to the inquiry.

Faherty then pulled up a letter the Trump Organization sent to their accounting firm, Mazars USA, who was compiling the organization’s 2016 statement of financial condition.

In the letter, the Trump Organization had affirmed their responsibility of “fair presentation” in accordance to generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. Trump Jr repeated his assertion that he relied on Mazars to provide them the information and that the accounting firm was “intimately involved” with the preparation of the statement.

Trump Jr and his brother Eric are both expected to testify on Thursday in the case brought by the New York attorney general, Letitia James. James’s investigation found the Trumps cooked their books for years, inflating Trump’s wealth to obtain loans on better terms.

James is calling for the Trump Organization to pay back $250m in alleged ill-gotten gains. The court has moved to terminate the Trumps’ business licenses – a move that would end their ability to do business in the state. That decision is on hold as the Trumps appeal the decision.

Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that the Trump Organization committed fraud. The trial will determine the penalties he will impose.

In a statement posted on X, James said: “Donald Trump lied about his net worth on his statements of financial condition to get loans for much better terms than he should have. It’s that simple.”

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Yesterday the court heard from a state witness who said banks had charged the Trump Organization lower rates on loans because they believed the inflated financial statements Trump and his deputies had given them. Michiel McCarty, the chair and CEO of the investment bank MM Dillon & Co, said the banks had collectively lost $168m in interest charges as a result.

James said it was clear that Trump Jr knew what was going on. He “claimed to have very little understanding of the accounting and legal mechanics of the family business. But we know he’s been involved in running the Trump Organization for a long time,” she said.

Donald Trump himself is expected to take the stand at the start of next week, followed by his daughter, Ivanka Trump.


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