Trump fraud trial live blog: Donald Trump Jr. takes the stand for the defense


(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $250 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.

Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engaging in a decade-long scheme in which they used “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate Trump’s net worth in order get more favorable loan terms. The trial comes after the judge in the case ruled in a partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted “fraudulent valuations” for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.

The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump’s alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 13, 1:42 PM EST
Trump Jr. to get new and improved sketch

When he was last in court, Donald Trump Jr. took a particular interest in his courtroom sketch.

“He said, ‘Make me look sexy,"” the sketch artist Jane Rosenberg told ABC News. By some accounts, the result was underwhelming.

Rosenberg has another opportunity to draw Trump Jr. with his return to court, and she thinks the new iteration is coming along well.

“I think they get better every time,” she told ABC News.

Earlier in his testimony, Trump Jr. joked about a photo of his brother Eric Trump.

When the slideshow Trump Jr. was narrating displayed a professional headshot of his brother, Trump Jr. took a job at his younger sibling.

“A lot of Photoshop,” Trump Jr. joked.

Nov 13, 1:12 PM EST
Trump Jr. assails judge’s finding on Mar-a-Lago

In presenting a slideshow chronicling the Trump Organization’s properties, Donald Trump Jr. highlighted many of their luxury features and iconic views — implicitly suggesting their value.

That’s particularly true of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, which Judge Engoron in a pretrial ruling determined was worth only a fraction of the amount claimed by Donald Trump, because Trump signed a deed that restricted its use to a social club, thereby limiting its resale value.

Describing how he took “umbrage” to the judge’s determination that Mar-a-Lago was worth between $18 and $28 million, Trump Jr. highlighted specific features to challenge that finding. Showing an aerial photo of the property, Trump Jr. said that a nearby home whose size was dwarfed by the social club has been on sale for $50 million.

“You couldn’t build that atrium for $18 million today,” Trump Jr. said while presenting a photo of the building’s historic atrium.

Nov 13, 12:53 PM EST
With glossy slides, Trump Jr. recounts firm’s story

Donald Trump’s testimony in the defense’s case has so far centered around a slide show being presented by the defense, entitled “The Trump Story,” that paints a timeline of Donald Trump’s real estate acquisitions. When state attorneys objected to the glossy presentation — which Trump Jr. acknowledged was created by his marketing team — the judge allowed the slides, and thus permitted Trump Jr. to testify unrestrained about the company’s properties.

“He’s an artist with real estate. He sees the things other people don’t,” Trump Jr. said at one point when describing his father.

As he narrates the slide show, Trump Jr.’s testimony resembles a lecture on real estate, sprinkled with details about his family’s properties — such as the individual stones used to construct the Seven Springs estate or the bank safes at 40 Wall Street, which he said once stored gold from the Federal Reserve.

“They’re actually spectacular … it’s truly a mechanical work of art,” Trump Jr. said of the safes.

Referencing broken down historic properties that the company has transformed back to their former glory, Trump Jr. called such properties the “canvas” for his his “father’s art.”

“He understands and has an incredible vision that other people don’t,” Trump Jr. said.

After a particular lengthy response, Trump Jr. referenced his father’s own tendency to speak in prolonged monologues, joking, “I got half the genes.”

Nov 13, 11:06 AM EST
Trump Jr. details history of Trump Organization

Testifying for the defense, former President Trump’s eldest son described his father as a real estate “visionary” who “sees the sexiness in a real estate project,” creating value for the family business that cannot be captured on paper.

Donald Trump Jr. began his testimony with a quip after Judge Engoron welcomed him back to the stand following his testimony earlier in the month.

“I’d say it’s good to be here, but the attorney general would probably sue me for perjury,” Trump Jr. joked.

In his testimony, Trump Jr. described the Trump Organization as “a large family business,” with Trump and his eldest children at the top and other executives handling many of the details.

“If there were numbers and things, I would rely on them to give me that,” Trump Jr. said.

He recounted the history of the Trump Organization, beginning with his great-grandfather who he said built hotels in the Yukon Territories of Canada. His grandfather, Fred Trump, “started working on job sites around Queens, learned the trades” and eventually “created an incredible portfolio, by the time of his passing, of rental apartments in Brooklyn and Queens.”

A state attorney jokingly objected that references to the 1800s were outside the statute of limitations — then more seriously objected to the history lesson’s relevance.

“I think it is relevant to get the historical perspective — I find it interesting,” Judge Engoron said in overruling the objection. “Let him go ahead and say how great the Trump Organization is.”

Trump Jr. obliged.

“My father learned a lot of the business from him, but had some flair and saw New York City and Manhattan as the ultimate frontier,” he said. Speaking of Trump Tower, he said, “I think it would have been one of the first, I think great, ultra-luxury real estate emerging in Manhattan.”

Nov 13, 10:20 AM EST
Donald Trump Jr. takes the stand for the defense

“Would you like to call your first witness, defense?” Judge Arthur Engoron asked to begin court this morning.

“The defense calls Donald Trump Jr. to the stand,” defense attorney Clifford Robert responded.

Like his last time on the witness stand when he was called by state attorneys, Trump Jr. appears comfortable on the stand, punctuating his testimony with lighthearted remarks.

Robert began his direct examination with some questions about Trump Jr. ‘s biography, starting with his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania.

“Was a bartender for about 18 months,” Trump Jr. said about his first job out of college.

“Did you enjoy that?” Robert asked.

“I did,” said Trump Jr., joking that he had a challenging conversation with his father when he began that job.

Nov 13, 9:45 AM EST
Trump Jr., arriving in court, met with chants of ‘crime family’

Donald Trump Jr. and his defense lawyers arrived at the New York State Supreme Courthouse this morning to be met with a small crowd of protestors chanting “crime family.”

Trump Jr. did not make a statement before entering the courthouse, but offered a brief response to a question about his expected testimony.

Asked what he plans on saying today on the stand, he replied, “We’ll see what I’m asked.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James arrived at court shortly after Trump Jr. and took a seat in the courtroom with her staff.

Nov 13, 9:06 AM EST
Donald Trump Jr. attends UFC event ahead of testimony

Donald Trump Jr. took in some ultimate fighting ahead of his scheduled return to the witness stand this morning.

Trump Jr. attended a UFC doubleheader at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night with his father, in addition to Tucker Carlson, Kid Rock, and UFC president Dana White.

“I legitimately can’t think of a better squad to roll with,” Trump Jr. posted on social media.

Earlier that day while speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump appeared to joke about appointing White to a position in a potential future administration.

“He’s a guy I’d like to make my Defense Chief. I wouldn’t call him my defense chief. I’d call him my ‘Offense Chief.’ He’d be my Offense Chief,” Trump said.

Nov 13, 8:32 AM EST
Defense to begin presenting its case

As Trump’s legal team prepares to begin presenting its case this morning, defense attorney Alina Habba says responsibility for the financial statements that the New York attorney general says are fraudulent lies with Trump’s external accounting firm.

Previewing the defense’s case during an appearance on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, Habba also said the banks that loaned money to the Trump Organization were responsible for conducting their own due diligence regarding Trump’s financial statements.

The state rested its case last week in the sixth week of the trial. The defense has said they expect their case to wrap up by Dec. 15.

Habba also suggested that Donald Trump plans to file a motion seeking a mistrial.

While Habba declined to comment on alleged misconduct by Judge Arthur Engoron’s clerk — which she is prohibited from doing due to the limited gag order handed down by the judge — she said the issue would be addressed in their mistrial motion “very soon.”

“I actually can’t tell you why, because I am gagged. I can tell you that we will be filing papers to address all of those issues,” Habba said.

However, Habba downplayed the chance the motion would be favorably decided Engoron.

“The problem we have is the judge is the one who is going to make those decisions, and he has proven himself to be quite motivated by the other side,” Habba said.

Nov 11, 1:51 PM EST
Court administrator responds to Stefanik’s complaint

In response to Rep. Elise Stefanik’s letter of complaint against Judge Engoron that she filed Friday with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a spokesperson for New York State Office of Court Administration has issued a statement.

“Judge Engoron’s actions and rulings in this matter are all part of the public record and speak for themselves,” said Office of Court Administration communications director Al Baker. “It is inappropriate to comment further.”

Nov 10, 8:17 PM EST
Rep. Stefanik files complaint against Judge Engoron

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York has filed a judicial complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron.

The letter, addressed to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, largely concerns the judge’s rulings in the case and his public statements, and is unlikely to impact the proceedings of the trial.

“Judge Engoron’s bizarre and biased behavior is making New York’s judicial system a laughingstock,” Stefanik, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote.

The lengthy letter echoes some of Trump’s attacks on the trial, criticizing Engoron’s limited gag order in the case, the actions of his legal clerk, his summary judgment ruling, and his comments during Trump’s testimony this week.

“Simply put, Judge Engoron has displayed a clear judicial bias against the defendant throughout the case, breaking several rules in the New York Code of Judicial Conduct,” Stefanik wrote.

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