By Jack Queen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – ‘s son is due to testify for a second day on Thursday about the family company’s financial statements that a New York judge has ruled were fraudulently inflated to mislead lenders and insurers.
Donald Jr. is one of four family members set to take the witness stand in a New York civil fraud trial that could hobble the real-estate empire that built his father’s reputation as a business mogul before he entered politics.
The former U.S. president is due to testify on Monday — the latest in many courtroom appearances by the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking at least $250 million in damages, as well as a permanent ban on Trump, Donald Jr. and his son Eric from running businesses in the state.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that the three defendants and the company fraudulently inflated the values of trophy properties and other assets to win favorable financing terms.
Engoron has ordered the dissolution of companies that control pillars of Trump’s real estate portfolio, including Trump Tower in Manhattan. That ruling is on hold while Trump appeals.
In testimony on Wednesday, Donald Jr. sought to minimize his involvement with the company’s financial statements, saying they were largely prepared by company accountants.
He drew occasional laughter in the courtroom with self-deprecating quips about his lack of financial acumen, in a contrast to the sharp-edged persona he has cultivated as his father’s political attack dog.
The trial is one of many legal troubles Donald Trump must contend with as he campaigns to retake the White House. He faces a total of 91 felony charges in four separate criminal prosecutions, including two cases stemming from his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
Nevertheless, Trump holds a commanding lead over his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of his criminal and civil cases and has accused James and Engoron of political bias.
He has not faced sanctions for those attacks, but Engoron has fined him $15,000 for twice violating a limited gag order that bars him from speaking publicly about court staff.
He is also under a limited gag order for the federal election subversion trial in Washington. Trump has alleged that both violate his right to free speech.
(Reporting by Jack Queen; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)