Ivanka Trump arrives for the civil fraud trial of her father former President Donald Trump at the New York State Supreme Court on November 08, 2023 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of former President Donald Trump, began testifying Wednesday in the $250 million civil fraud trial that threatens her family’s business empire.
Ivanka, who tried to avoid the witness stand, was questioned about her involvement in loans for assets of the Trump Organization that featured in the case of New York Attorney General Letitia James. James accuses Trump Sr., Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and others of falsely inflating asset values to obtain tax benefits and other financial advantages.
In addition to asking for an impressive quarter of a billion dollars in damages, James wants the court to permanently bar the former president and his sons from running a business in New York.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks to the press as she arrives for the Trump Organization civil fraud trial and testimony of Ivanka Trump, daughter of former US President Donald Trump, at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City on November 8, 2023.
Timothy A. Clary | Afp | Getty Images
“We discovered this scheme and she personally benefited from it,” James said of Ivanka Trump outside Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.
The AG said he expects Ivanka to “do everything she can to disassociate herself” from the Trump Organization during her testimony. But “he is inextricably tied” to the company, James said.
Ivanka Trump was originally listed as a co-defendant, but she was dismissed from the case in June after a New York appeals court found that the claims against her fell outside a statute of limitations.
Judge Arthur Engoron, who will deliver the verdicts in the non-jury trial, found the defendants liable for fraudulently misrepresenting the values of real estate properties and other assets in the primary form of finance. His pretrial ruling ordered the cancellation of their New York business certificates, though that order is on hold pending litigation.
The trial itself will determine how much the defendants will be ordered to pay in damages or other penalties. The judge will also review six other claims in James’ lawsuit that have not yet been resolved.
Ivanka Trump was an executive vice president for development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization until 2017, when she joined her father’s presidential administration as a senior advisor. He “negotiated and obtained financing” for the company’s properties and “directed all areas of the company’s real estate and hotel management platform,” according to James’ lawsuit.
He is expected to be questioned about loans for the Old Post Office building — the former site of Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel — and the Trump Doral property, both of which he is credited with dealing with.
The former Trump International Hotel in the Old Post Office Building is seen on May 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Trump family completed the sale of the hotel on Wednesday and the hotel will reopen as a Waldorf Astoria.
Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images
He is also expected to be asked about the valuation of his penthouse apartment and his father’s introduction to the personal wealth management team at Deutsche Bank.
Ivanka’s testimony followed that of her father on Monday, who angrily lashed out at James, Engoron and his other perceived “haters” from the witness stand.
Trump has also repeatedly argued that a disclaimer notice in his annual statements of financial condition gave him total protection against legal liability if the numbers were inaccurate.
“That’s why we have a disclaimer clause in case something goes wrong,” Trump said. “There’s a disclaimer clause, where you don’t have to be sued by the attorney general of New York.”
But the judge, Engoron, rejected Trump’s interpretation of liability.
The clause “does not say what the defendants claim it says, does not rise to the level of an enforceable disclaimer, and cannot be used to insulate fraud from facts outside the knowledge of the defendants,” wrote by Engoron in his pretrial decision on September 26. .
Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who took over the Trump Organization as executive vice president after their father became president in 2017, were called to the stand last week. Both testified that they relied on the company’s accountants to prepare annual financial statements and approve valuations.
Engoron on October 27 ordered Ivanka Trump to comply with subpoenas for her testimony without any limitations.
Former US President Donald Trump’s son and co-defendant Eric Trump testifies during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial at the New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US, November 2, 2023 in this courtroom sketch .
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Ivanka Trump appealed, and asked a New York appeals court to temporarily pause Engoron’s order. Her lawyer argued that Ivanka, who lives in Florida, was “beyond the jurisdiction” of the New York court and would suffer “irreparable harm” if forced to testify.
The lawyer also asserted that Ivanka Trump, who has three children, would face “undue hardship” if she had to show up “in the middle of a school week.”
Some legal experts quickly interjected to deride that argument as a poor excuse to avoid a court summons — especially for Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, whose combined net worth is estimated that exceeds $1 billion and can probably afford adequate child care.
This is developing news. Please check back for updates.