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Donald Trump's legal team starts civil trial defense in New York

Lawyers for the former president called his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to the stand on Monday.
Donald Trump's legal team starts civil trial defense in New York
Posted at 5:55 PM, Nov 13, 2023

Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York continued Monday. 

The former president’s legal team will work to convince the judge that Trump — and his adult sons and business — did not intentionally commit any wrongdoing.  

Trump’s lawyers called his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to the stand first. This comes despite lawyers saying his sons don’t have much involvement. Donald Trump Jr. is the executive vice president of the Trump Organization.  

Two weeks ago, Trump’s oldest son answered questions from the prosecution, testifying that he never worked on the financial statements at the heart of the case. Donald Trump Jr. also said he relied heavily on the company's finance chief and outside accountants to verify the accuracy of the business records in question. 

The former president's other children, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, were also called to testify, with Ivanka testifying last Thursday that she didn't recall most of the e-mails and conversations she was being asked about in relation to the case and the Trump family business.

On Monday Trump Jr. praised his father for "visionary" ideas like including gyms as amenities in his buildings, and for recognizing the potential in restoring properties that were in disrepair.

The defense questioned the eldest son on his role in leasing the 40 Wall Street office building in the financial district.

The state alleges the value of the tower was inflated by claims that tenants had signed already, but in fact, they hadn't committed to leases yet.

While leaving the courthouse after his testimony ended, Trump Jr. reiterated his belief that the case was politically motivated and had serious implications for anyone doing business in New York.

"Hopefully the people of this great city will realize what's going on," Trump Jr. said. "They'll realize the destructive practices here. They'll realize just how insane that is and they'll be begging for guys like Donald Trump to come back to New York to reshape the skyline as he's done for decades."

SEE MORE: Ivanka Trump takes stand in fraud case probing the family business

The Trump Organization is accused of knowingly inflating the value of its business properties for financial gain. Prosecutors claim the company inflated the value of its properties by billions of dollars, and that Donald Trump himself inflated his own net worth to secure better loans and insurance.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking more than $300 million in the case. She also wants a ban on the Trump family being able to do business in the state of New York. An appeals court decided that Trump could remain in control of his properties, at least for now.

Leading up to the trial, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the defendant committed fraud and he set forth a punishment that could strip the family of operating their most prized properties in New York, like Trump Tower.

Trump attorney and spokeswoman Alina Habba told Fox News yesterday the former president will ask for a mistrial.

"It’s a bench trial. We have one judge and it's the same judge that issued the gag order that has to make those determinations,” Habba said. “So at this point, you know, I don't have any reason to believe he shouldn't after what we've learned, if it's true, but I will tell you that it's concerning when he is the arbiter and the decision maker of some of these issues.”

Donald Trump himself is also expected to testify. The former president maintains he has done nothing wrong. 


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