Civil trial in New York: the Trump sons try to unite to protect the family empire

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s sons accused with him of vast financial frauds, assured, Thursday, in New York civil court, that they did not deal with the financial declarations at the center of the trial, a task left to accountants, according to them.

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Donald Trump Jr., then Eric Trump, the two sons of Donald Trump accused like their father of vast financial fraud in the civil trial which threatens the family empire, tried to unite, Thursday, November 2, in the New York court, despite a barrage of questions from the prosecution and documents implicating them in the case.

One after the other, the eldest Donald Jr, 45 years old, then the youngest Eric, 39 years old, two brothers with similar looks, chic suits and ties, hair carefully combed back and trimmed beard, adopted a line of identical defense: they did not take care of the financial declarations at the center of the trial, a task left to accountants, they assure.

Fraudulent maneuvers amounting to billions of dollars, intended to obtain more favorable loans from banks and better insurance conditions, according to the accusation.

Of the two brothers, executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, who took charge when the father entered the White House in 2017, Eric appeared the most in difficulty in court. From the outset, he assured that he had “not worked” on the annual financial statements. But the representative of the general prosecutor’s office, Andrew Amer, showed him a long series of emails, displayed on the court screen, seeming to attest to the contrary.

“I build projects”

On August 23, 2013, a group executive spoke to him about “notes” for “Mr. Trump’s annual financial statement”, on April 22, 2015, it was Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization , who suggests the idea of ​​repaying a loan “after June 30” to keep as much liquidity as possible on the annual financial statement.

Donald Trump Jr, son of former US President Donald Trump, in court in New York, November 2, 2023 Shannon Stapleton, Pool, AFP

Under the fire of questions, during a tight interrogation lasting several hours, Eric Trump sometimes lost his patience, and his voice, until now cordial, rose: “we are a huge group in real estate, of course that there are financial declarations,” he says. But he tried to maintain his position: “I don’t focus on numbers. I build projects.”

The questions then focused on “Seven Springs”, an opulent residence surrounded by nature – 60 rooms, three swimming pools -, one of the most overvalued according to the accusation (more than 260 million dollars, compared to ten times less according to estimates) and whose management company Eric Trump headed.


“I trusted the accountants,” Donald Trump Jr. also repeated a little earlier. He was notably confronted with an email from a journalist from the financial magazine Forbes dated March 3, 2017, containing a long series of questions about Donald Trump’s fortune and calling into question the true surface area of ​​his triplex in Trump Tower.

“It’s crazy what’s in there,” Donald Trump Jr. said in another email, when he learned of Forbes’ questions.

Former US President Donald Trump in New York court during his civil fraud trial, October 25, 2023
Former US President Donald Trump in New York court during his civil fraud trial, October 25, 2023 Timothy A. Clary, AFP (archives)

In court, he does not remember the episode well. Has he undertaken any checks? “I don’t know if I did.”

Donald Trump’s triplex is one of the examples cited by the prosecution, because its value would have been declared on the basis of a surface area almost three times greater than reality (2,700 square meters compared to 1,000), which would have allowed to value it at $327 million.

Since Wednesday, the court has witnessed a parade of the family clan. After Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, whose hearing continues on Friday, it should be the turn, on Monday, of Donald Trump himself.

This trial is only one of the many legal troubles of the former President of the United States, criminally charged in four other cases, including that before federal justice in Washington on accusations of having attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Several criminal trials await him in 2024, in the middle of the campaign for the Republican primaries that Donald Trump hopes to win to run for the White House in a year.

Read alsoElectoral pressure, assault on the Capitol… Donald Trump’s legal problems

While he does not face prison time in the civil trial, the case could cause him to lose control of part of his real estate empire, in addition to a $250 million fine and a ban from managing companies in New York.

With AFP

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