Donald Jr. begins defense in civil fraud trial

November 14, 2023

Donald Trump Jr. took the stand in New York Monday as a defense witness in the civil fraud trial against his father and the family business. 

Throughout his testimony, Donald Jr. defended his father as a skilled real estate developer and an "artist" with a Midas touch.

Don Jr. returns

Attorney general Letitia James, a Democrat, has portrayed Trump as a con man who fraudulently inflated the value of his assets to secure deals. James rested her case last week after testimony from Donald Trump and his adult children - Donald Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.

Starting Monday, it was the Trump family's turn to tell their side of the story.

Aided by a slideshow presentation, Donald Jr. described his father's real estate portfolio, which he said reflected creative "genius" and "vision."

“He’s an artist with real estate. He sees the things other people don’t,” he said.

Defense begins its case

During defiant testimony last week, President Trump called James a "political hack" and accused the judge, Arthur Engoron, of overseeing a witch hunt.

Trump has argued that his lenders had a duty to perform due diligence, and that his financial statements actually underestimated his actual wealth.

The judge, however, has rejected Trump's efforts to challenge a pre-trial ruling that Trump committed fraud.

The trial, which is set to last another month or so, will decide what Trump's penalties are.

Mistrial?

Donald Jr. had previously appeared before the court during the state's presentation, when he said that he relied on outside accountants and had little knowledge of the business's financial statements. When he took the stand again Monday, he was characteristically glib and playful.

He opened with a joke: “I’d say it’s good to be here, your honor, but I have a feeling that the attorney general would sue me for perjury if I said that."

At one point, he confessed that he has been "relegated....to the children's table in perpetuity" because he doesn't play golf - eliciting a chuckle from the judge.

However, Donald Jr. showed flashes of indignation as well, lambasting the "overzealous" prosecutor to reporters outside.

President Trump's lawyers began calling expert witnesses on Tuesday to defend Trump's valuation of his properties, including his famous Mar-A-Lago estate.

Echoing his father, Donald Jr. told the court he took "umbrage" at the judge's assessment that Mar-A-Lago is worth just $18 million.

"You couldn't build that atrium for $18 million today," he said.

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