Donald Trump Jr. testifies in New York civil fraud trial

By Dan Berman and Shania Shelton, CNN

Updated 2127 GMT (0527 HKT) November 1, 2023
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5:24 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Trump Jr. denies involvement in preparing father's financial statements

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

In this sketch from court, Donald Trump Jr. testifies on the stand in court in New York on November 1.
In this sketch from court, Donald Trump Jr. testifies on the stand in court in New York on November 1. Christine Cornell

Donald Trump Jr. testified he was not involved in the preparation of his father’s financial statements at any point in time, even after his father became president in 2017 and he was appointed trustee on Donald Trump’s revocable trust.

Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty showed Trump Jr the 2017 statement of financial condition, which the judge has ruled  was fraudulent.

Trump Jr. again said he didn’t help prepare the statement that year.

“I did not. The accountants worked on it, that’s what we pay them for," he said.

Faherty narrowed in on the licensing developments on the financial statement, asking Trump Jr. if he gave the accountants the $246 million valuation attached to the licensing deals.

Trump Jr. said he might’ve discussed the deals with the accounting team because he was the primary person on most of them, but that he did so without knowing they’d use those values in the financial statements.

“I didn’t give them a value of $246 million. I could have sat there and gone through each one of the deals individually with Allen Weisselberg, Jeff McConney, Donald Bender, and given them an idea of what I believe the cash flow coming from those deals would have been worth, not even knowing it was for the purposes of this,” Trump Jr. testified.

“I could have very well been involved in inferring that number but not knowing it was for that purpose,” he added.

The former president’s son again reiterated in a lengthy response to the question: “I wasn’t involved in compiling the statement of financial condition.”

Trump Jr. testified for fewer than 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon and is expected to continue testifying on direct examination Thursday morning. The Trump defense team has indicated they don’t plan to cross examine their client.

4:46 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Trump Jr. testimony to resume Thursday

From CNN's Dan Berman

Court has ended for the day, with Donald Trump, Jr. still on the witness stand for direct examination from the New York attorney general's office.

He'll be back when court resumes Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

After Trump Jr., his brother Eric Trump is scheduled to testify.

4:40 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Attorney general’s office walks through Don Jr.'s various roles at Trump Organization

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

When Donald Trump Jr. took the stand Wednesday afternoon, Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty spent her first hour of questions walking through the roles and responsibilities the former president’s son had at the Trump Organization and as a trustee to his father’s revocable trust formed when he entered the White House.

Faherty went through Trump Jr.'s progression through the Trump Organization since joining around 2001. He confirmed that he's been an executive vice president at least since 2011.

Trump Jr. reported to his father until 2017, when Donald Trump took office, and he said former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg would’ve been more senior than him at least until 2013. 

Trump Jr. and his brother Eric were on equal levels at the company, he said, but stuck to their own "silos." (Eric Trump is set to testify later this week.)

Trump Jr. said he didn't know the particulars of Weisselberg's exit but said the former CFO did not retire and it was related to "legal issues he got himself into."

Trump's oldest son also confirmed he was named a trustee on his father's revocable trust after Trump took office. Weisselberg and Trump Jr. were appointed trustees in 2017. Weisselberg was removed as a trustee in 2021 upon his exit from the company.

Since leaving office in 2021 the former president has made some decisions at the company, his son said, but Trump Jr. testified he couldn't pinpoint anything specific.

He said Eric Trump has not been a trustee of the trust and confirmed his brother has not had authority to make decisions on behalf of the trust.

“He would have had authority to make decisions within the Trump Organization,” Trump Jr. said, but not the trust. As a trustee, Trump Jr. said it was his responsibility to act in the best interest of the beneficiary, his father, and confirmed he managed the assets in the trust.

At one pointing in her questions, Faherty asked Trump Jr., “Are you familiar with the attorney general’s complaint in this case?”

“Vaguely, yes," Trump Jr. said after a pause.

4:05 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Trump Jr. on accounting practices at the Trump Organization: "I leave it to my accountants"

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

Donald Trump Jr. in court on Wednesday in New York.
Donald Trump Jr. in court on Wednesday in New York. Mike Segar/Pool/AP

The New York attorney general’s office began the questioning of Donald Trump Jr. in the civil fraud trial by asking if he was familiar with accounting standards, such as the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

Trump Jr. responded that his knowledge of GAAP was limited to what he learned in “Accounting 101” during college in the 1990s.  

“I know nothing about GAAP — I leave it to my accountants,” Trump Jr. said. "I rely on their opinions and their assessments to make those decisions." 

More context: Trump Jr., an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, is testifying as a defendant in the New York attorney general’s civil lawsuit against Trump, his sons and the Trump Organization. The $250 million lawsuit accuses Trump Jr. and his brother Eric of knowingly participating in a scheme to inflate their father’s net worth to obtain financial benefits like better loan and insurance policy terms.

Trump Jr.’s knowledge of accounting principles is relevant because of the financial statements related to Trump’s net worth at the heart of the case. In a deposition taken in 2022, Trump Jr. said he had no real involvement in the preparation of the statements of financial condition at the heart of the case, and that he didn’t recall working on them.

3:44 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Judge signals she may postpone Trump’s trial in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz in Ft. Myers, Florida

The exterior of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home is seen on March 23, in Palm Beach, Florida.
The exterior of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home is seen on March 23, in Palm Beach, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As the civil fraud trial against Donald Trump continues in New York, a federal judge overseeing the former president's Mar-a-Lago document-mishandling case in Florida cast doubt on the viability having a trial in May 2024, signaling she may postpone the criminal proceedings.

During a hearing Wednesday in South Florida, US District Judge Aileen Cannon raised concerns that the defense team wouldn't be able to complete trial preparations between now and the spring, as they handle other cases for Trump and a stacked trial schedule.

“I’m having a hard time seeing how this work can be accomplished realistically in this period of time,” Cannon said.

The document mishandling case is one of the four criminal cases against Trump, in addition to the current civil trial in New York and the various court actions have consistently hit up against one another.

As such, Cannon repeatedly questioned if the current trial schedule would unfairly bump up against the federal election interference trial of Trump, which is set for March in Washington, DC. 

Trump’s legal team has asked that the classified documents trial in Florida be moved to at least mid-November 2024 — after the presidential election.

3:21 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Ivanka Trump appeals ruling ordering her to testify at civil fraud trial

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

In this July 2022 photo, Ivanka Trump arrives for the funeral of Ivana Trump, in New York.
In this July 2022 photo, Ivanka Trump arrives for the funeral of Ivana Trump, in New York. Julia Nikhinson/AP

While Donald Trump Jr., is on the stand Wednesday afternoon, former President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump is appealing a judge’s ruling ordering her to testify in the civil trial.

An attorney for Ivanka Trump, Bennet Moskowitz, filed the notice of appeal on Wednesday in a New York appellate court after Judge Arthur Engoron ordered her to testify last week.

Ivanka Trump’s attorney had been seeking to quash the subpoena for her testimony because she’s no longer a defendant in the case. But Engoron last week ruled she must testify, though he gave her time to file an appeal.

Among the issues Moskowitz asked the appellate court to consider was whether the New York civil court had jurisdiction over Ivanka Trump since she has not lived or worked in New York since 2017.

Ivanka Trump’s testimony is tentatively slated for next Wednesday, November 8. It’s not clear whether the appeal will affect that timing.

Ivanka Trump had initially been listed as a co-defendant – along with Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and several Trump Organization executives – in the $250 million lawsuit filed last September by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleging they were involved in an expansive fraud scheme lasting over a decade that the former president and his eldest children used to enrich themselves.

In June, however, a New York appeals court dismissed Ivanka Trump as a co-defendant, finding the claims against her were too old, because she was not part of an August 2021 agreement between James’ office and the Trump Organization to toll the statute of limitations.

3:07 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Donald Trump Jr. has taken the witness stand

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

Donald Trump Jr. waits to testify in New York Supreme Court, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in New York. 
Donald Trump Jr. waits to testify in New York Supreme Court, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in New York.  Seth Wenig/Pool/AP

Donald Trump Jr. is now testifying in the New York civil fraud trial against him, his family, and their company.

He is being questioned by the Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty, who is expected to press him on his involvement in the financial documents at the center of the lawsuit.

3:06 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Here's what you need to know about Donald Trump Jr.’s fraud trial testimony today

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

Former US President Donald Trump's son and co-defendant, Donald Trump Jr., arrives to attend the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, on November 1.
Former US President Donald Trump's son and co-defendant, Donald Trump Jr., arrives to attend the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, on November 1. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Donald Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., is set to testify in the civil fraud trial against the family and their business.

Donald Trump Jr. is named as a defendant in the $250 million lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general’s office against the former president, his company and several executives, including three of his adult children.

The lawsuit accuses Trump Jr. and his brother Eric of knowingly participating in a scheme to inflate their father’s net worth to obtain financial benefits like better loans and insurance policy terms.

“As Executive Vice Presidents, the three children were intimately involved in the operation of the Trump Organization’s business,” the complaint states.

In a deposition taken last year, Trump Jr. distanced himself from the financial statements Judge Arthur Engoron had already ruled to be fraudulent in a summary judgment before the trial began.

“I had no real involvement in the preparation of the Statement of Financial Condition and don’t really remember ever working on it with anyone,” Trump Jr. said.

“Again, people may have asked me about stuff tangentially that I gave them an answer to that they may have then utilized as a basis of knowledge to come up with whatever, but, no, not specifically as it relates to, you know, knowledge about the financial statement,” he added. Donald Trump Jr. has worked in commercial leasing for the Trump Org., including the company’s 40 Wall Street property at issue in the lawsuit.

Trump Jr. became a trustee of his father’s revocable trust when he took office and certified the statements of financial condition in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

He testified in his deposition that he relied on the accounting and legal departments at Trump Org. when he signed the paperwork.

Read more about Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony.

2:50 p.m. ET, November 1, 2023

Trump and company saved $168 million in loan interest as a result of fraud, banking expert says

From CNN's Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb

Former President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, on October 24.
Former President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, on October 24. Mike Segar/Pool/Reuters

A banking expert testified Wednesday that Donald Trump and his company benefited more than $168 million by obtaining favorable loan terms on transactions where the former president personally guaranteed the loans.

The New York Attorney General’s office called Michiel McCarty to testify about his assessment of the $168 million in ill-gotten gains.

McCarty analyzed the lending documents related to transactions at issue in this case for the following Trump Organization properties: 40 Wall Street in New York, The Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Florida, Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, and the Old Post Office project in Washington DC.

McCarty calculated the difference in interest payments that Trump might have paid with a commercial real estate loan that would have had a much higher interest rate than the rate he obtained by personally guaranteeing the loans on the basis of financial statements that inflated his net worth.

He determined the Trump Organization saved on interest for the properties:

  • $72,908,308 for the Doral Resort
  • $53,423,209 for the Old Post Office loan
  • $17,443,359 for Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago
  • $24,265,291 for 40 Wall Street

Trump’s attorney Chris Kise argued repeatedly in objections that the expert should not be permitted to suggest what loan rate Trump Org. could have gotten because no trial evidence has shown the lenders would have changed the loan terms if they knew Trump’s net worth was inflated based on the asset valuation in his financial statements.

Judge Arthur Engoron overruled the defense objections, reminding Kise of the summary judgment that already found Trump and his company liable for fraud before the trial started.

Keep reading about the testimony here.