NEW YORK (AP) — Eric Trump, one of two sons entrusted to run Donald Trump’s real estate empire, swore Thursday that he was never involved with or aware of financial statements that state lawyers say fraudulently puffed up the ex-president’s wealth and the worth of the family business.
But when a lawyer for New York state lawyer pulled up decade-old emails in which a fellow Trump Organization executive asked him for information needed to complete one of his dad’s financial statements, the irritated son strove to clarify.
“We’re a major organization, a massive real estate organization — yes, I’m fairly sure I understand that we have financial statements. Absolutely,” Eric Trump testified. But, he insisted: “I had no involvement and never worked on my father’s statement of financial condition.”
Eric Trump followed brother Donald Trump Jr. to the witness stand Thursday at the family’s New York civil fraud trial, a prelude to their father’s scheduled testimony on Monday. Both sons are Trump Organization executive vice presidents.
Answering questions for a second day, Trump Jr. also revealed that gaming giant Bally’s recently paid their company $60 million to buy the right to operate a public golf course in New York City. The terms of the lease transfer for the former Trump Golf Links Ferry Point in the Bronx hadn’t previously been disclosed.
The sale came after the city strove to end Donald Trump’s association with the course after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The company managed the 18-hole course, now called Bally’s Golf Links at Ferry Point, until this year.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Donald Trump, his company and top executives including Eric and Donald Jr., accusing them of inflating the ex-president’s net worth on annual financial statements that were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals.
The former president and other defendants deny wrongdoing.
Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination, reiterated on his Truth Social platform Thursday that he sees the trial as “RIGGED,” a “Miscarriage of Justice,” and “Election Interference.” James and the judge who will decide the case, Arthur Engoron, are Democrats.
“The Trump Organization is Financially Strong, Powerful, Very Liquid, AND HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG,” Trump wrote.
Eric Trump, as he started his testimony, said he “never had anything to do with the statement of financial condition,” didn’t believe he’d ever seen one and ”didn’t know anything about it, really, until this case came into fruition.”
“It’s not what I did for the company,” said the son, who has insisted his interests lie mainly in “pouring concrete” — constructing and operating properties. He said that while he knew the company had financial documents, he “was not personally aware of the statement of financial condition.”
State lawyer Andrew Amer then showed him 2013 emails from then-Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney who explained to Eric Trump that he was “working on your father’s statement of financial condition” and needed information on one of the company’s properties.
“So you did know about your father’s annual financial statement as of August 2013?” Amer asked.
“It appears that way,” testified Eric Trump, who was a lower-level executive at the time.
In another email that year, McConney said he was “working on the notes to Mr. Trump’s annual financial statement” and asked Eric and others for an update on any major construction work that had recently been started.
“Yes, I know Jeff McConney does financial statements for my father,” Eric Trump said, shifting back in his chair and adjusting his suit jacket. Asked a question along the same line, he sprang into his answer about the company being a “massive real estate organization,” his voice rising as he spoke.
Donald Trump Jr. testified earlier Thursday that, despite James’ allegations, he still believed his father’s financial statements were “materially accurate.” His father has said that, if anything, the numbers listed on the documents low-balled his wealth and the value of his skyscrapers, golf courses and other properties.
Echoing his testimony of Wednesday, Trump Jr. insisted he dealt with the financial statements only in passing — signing off on them as a trustee for his father’s trust and providing them to lenders to comply with loan requirements. He reiterated that he did so while relying on assurances from company finance executives and an outside accounting firm that the information was accurate.
“If they assured me in their expert opinion that these things were fine, I would’ve been fine with that and signed off accordingly,” he testified.
Outside the courthouse, Trump Jr. told reporters he thought his testimony went “really well, if we were actually dealing with logic and reason, the way business is conducted.”
“Unfortunately, the attorney general has brought forth a case that is purely a political persecution,” he said. “I think it’s a truly scary precedent for New York for me, for example, before even having a day in court, I’m apparently guilty of fraud for relying on my accountants to do, wait for it: accounting.”