Trump Family Testifies: Outbursts, Memory Lapses, and ‘Gotcha’ Moments – NBC News

Testimony of Trump family members in New York court case

Testimony of Trump family members in New York court case

Four members of the Trump family, including former President Donald Trump, recently testified in a $250 million civil fraud case that could break apart their family real estate empire. The case, brought by the New York attorney general, accuses the Trump Organization of grossly overinflating the value of its assets in financial statements to defraud banks, insurers, and investors.

Angry outbursts and memory lapses

The testimony of the Trump family members, which took place over five days in a New York courtroom, was described as a “remarkable spectacle” by media outlets. Donald Trump, in particular, was said to have lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general and the judge overseeing the case, calling it a “political witch hunt.” His three oldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, were reported to have suffered from memory lapses, with many of their responses being variations of “I don’t remember” or “I don’t recall.”

“Gotcha”-style moments

The testimony also reportedly featured some “gotcha”-style moments that could influence the judge’s verdict. Ivanka Trump, a former senior executive at the Trump Organization who was released from the case as a defendant by an appeals court, was the only one of the family members to be cross-examined by the attorney general’s lawyers.

Hostile judge and “worthless statement clause”

Donald Trump was highly critical of the judge overseeing the case, Arthur Engoron, whom he called a “very hostile judge.” He also took issue with Engoron’s pretrial ruling that found Trump liable for “persistent fraud” for inflating the value of his assets. Trump referred to a “disclaimer clause” or “worthless statement clause” in the financial statements, which he said advised that different people may reach different conclusions about the values in it. However, the judge had already rejected this defense in a pretrial ruling, telling Trump to “read my opinion again, or for the first time, perhaps.”

Inflated financial statements and “nonmaterial” errors

The attorney general’s office has accused the Trump Organization of inflating its annual statements of financial condition by up to $2 billion a year. However, Trump maintained that any errors in the statements were “nonmaterial.” He also argued that the financial statements were irrelevant because banks and insurers don’t rely on them for anything. Trump made repeated references to the “disclaimer clause” in the financial statements, which advises people to do their own “due diligence.”

Reclaiming control of the company

Donald Trump ceded control of the Trump Organization to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and then-Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg when he entered the White House. However, documents shown during Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony revealed that the senior Trump reclaimed control of the trust that owned the property on Jan. 15, 2021, five days before he left office. He then stepped down and made Trump Jr. the trustee again on July 7, 2021, just days after Weisselberg and the company were hit with tax fraud charges by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Grilled on conversations and emails

The attorney general’s office grilled the Trump children on phone calls, conversations, and emails going back over 10 years. However, the most common responses to those questions were that they could not remember anything about them. Each of the adult children offered dozens of variations of “I don’t remember” or “I don’t recall” during their testimony.

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