Eric Trump to take the stand as Trump fraud trial winds down

Eric Trump will take the stand as a defense witness Wednesday as the $250 million civil fraud case against the Trump family and their company nears its end.

The president’s son, who’s largely been running the Trump Organization since his father took office in 2017, will be one of the last witnesses in the case, with his father serving as the final defense witness next week. The former president is also likely to attend the trial on Thursday, his attorney Chris Kise told reporters.

Lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office will put on a brief rebuttal case with two witnesses on Tuesday. Each side will then have time to file legal arguments with Judge Arthur Engoron before closing arguments, which are scheduled to take place on Jan. 11. Engoron has said he expects to issue a written ruling in the weeks after that.

Engoron’s decision has the potential to be disastrous for the Trumps and their company. The AG is seeking up to $250 million in damages and the judge already found in a pretrial ruling that Trump had committed repeated acts of fraud and that a number of his New York-based limited liability companies should be dissolved.

The trial began on Oct. 2. Since beginning their defense case last month, the Trumps have pushed back on the AG’s assertion that Trump’s financial statements grossly overvalued numerous properties. Their defense has included testimony from from Trump employees, real estate valuation experts and bankers who said that property valuations can vary wildly and that in some instances properties might have been undervalued. Their first witness was Donald Trump Jr., who runs the company with his brother and gave a glowing review and overview of their properties.

Eric Trump, the second oldest son of the former president’s three sons, will likely face much softer questioning as he takes the stand Wednesday than he did in his earlier testimony when he was called as a witness by the AG’s office. Andrew Amer of the AG’s office repeatedly pressed him on his claims that he had never seen or worked on the company’s financial statements before taking the reins. Eric Trump said “I didn’t know anything about it really until this case came into fruition” but was then shown emails going back to 2012 referencing the statements and asking him for information about various properties.

This time Eric Trump will be questioned by his own attorney, Cliff Robert, before being cross-examined by Amer.

His testimony is expected to last all day. He will be followed by an accounting expert who will testify on Thursday and Friday, and then finally Donald Trump, who will testify on Monday.

The former president got into several heated exchanges when he testified in November as a witness for James, repeatedly criticizing both the AG and Engoron, who he called a “very hostile judge.”

Trump will not be able to criticize another frequent target when he returns to court, the judge’s law clerk. Engoron issued a gag order barring him from talking about court staff after Trump smeared the clerk in a social media post. Trump has since complained that the clerk is biased against him and has been acting as a co-judge in the case, a claim Engoron has angrily denied.

The gag order was stayed by an appeals court judge for two weeks last month, allowing Trump to resume his attacks on her. A full panel of appeals court judges from the state Appellate Division then lifted the stay after court officials submitted a filing saying threats against the clerk had increased when the gag order was paused.

Trump is still appealing the underlying gag order, and on Monday petitioned the Appellate Division to let him immediately appeal the stay issue to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. The request was denied on procedural grounds. A judge is allowing him to make his arguments on an expedited basis, but that won’t be decided until after he takes the stand on Monday.

Kise complained to reporters Monday that the gag order puts his client at a disadvantage.

“It’s hard to believe in America that the front-running presidential candidate in the United States of America is not allowed to talk about why he’s not getting a fair trial in New York. Unbelievable,” he said.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button