Prosecutors Confront Eric Trump With Damning Emails at Fraud Trial

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Donald Trump Jr. and his kid brother Eric took the stand on Thursday in their father’s New York civil fraud trial, and prosecutors hammered the twice-impeached ex-president’s sons about their apparent involvement in reams of allegedly inaccurate financial statements for the family real estate business.

It was the second day of testimony for Don Jr., who continued to fob off all blame on other people, testifying, “I rely on the accounting team to tell me what is accurate, that’s why we have accountants.” Eric used a similar strategy, claiming ignorance about his dad’s financial statements before the prosecution introduced evidence that seemed to undercut the younger Trump’s position.

Don Jr. was up first, answering more questions about his role in a representation letter the Trump Organization provided to Mazars, the accounting firm that cut ties with the business last year while saying it could no longer stand behind some 10 years worth of financial statements it prepared for the company. In his testimony, Don Jr. acknowledged that he signed it but said he didn’t remember anything more about it specifically.

“I would have sat with the relevant parties… and checked with the legal department, if they assured me that these things were fine, I would have signed off,” he said. “... For purposes of accounting, I rely on the accountants,” adding that they have more information and details “than I would have ever had.”

Don Jr. Takes the Stand at Dad’s Fraud Trial—and Blames the Accountants

His sign-off on such documents “is not a symbol of yes or no,” Don Jr. insisted.

In another document introduced by prosecutors, Mazars said the trustees of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which was set up when the elder Trump became president, were in fact responsible for the veracity of the information contained within. Again, Don Jr. said he only signed them but trusted others with the numbers.

Judge Arthur Engoron, the subject of countless unhinged social media screeds by the former president, asked if Don Jr. had “anything to do with this statement of financial condition.”

“No, I did not, your honor,” Don Jr. replied, claiming, “I’m sure I’ve signed dozens of these in my time as trustee.”

The Trump scion is accused, alongside his father and brother Eric, of misrepresenting the worth of the Trump Organization’s assets to gain favorable terms on loans and insurance, allegedly pushing valuations up or down to suit the company’s needs.

When prosecutors pressed Don Jr. about being told by, among others, a Forbes reporter who inquired about apparent errors in the firm’s financial statements to Deutsche Bank, he dodged a question about intent, laying the responsibility for any due diligence at the bank’s feet. He testified that he expected financial institutions to perform their own due diligence before making any decisions, taking a page from his dad’s own playbook of excuses.

Things have changed since, according to Don Jr., who said, “Prior policies and methodologies have certainly been bolstered.” However, he added, “I don’t want to get into details, because these things were done with counsel.”

What has changed? prosecutors asked.

“I guess, Allen Weisselberg not being in that position anymore,” Don Jr. said.

Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former CFO, spent 100 days in jail earlier this year after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges related to his actions at the firm.

On his way into court, Don Jr.—resplendent in a dark suit and light blue tie—told the courtroom sketch artist to make him “look sexy.” On the way out, he told reporters, “I think it went really well, if we were actually dealing with logic and reason the way business is conducted.” However, he complained, “Unfortunately, the AG has brought forth a case that is purely a political persecution.”

Eric Trump took the stand shortly before noon, parroting many of the same excuses as his brother did.

He claimed not to remember anything about his involvement in allegedly manipulated financial statements introduced by prosecutors, including one that appeared to have later been used in a golf course deal.

“Not that I recall,” Eric testified, quickly adding, “I don’t know what I knew at the time.”

The prosecution asked about the family’s Seven Springs estate in Westchester, which former Trump Organization comptroller Jeff McConney testified earlier that Eric had instructed him to overvalue. They brought up two phone calls Eric had with McConney about the numbers, which appeared in his dad’s 2013 statement of financial condition.

Eric said he had no memory of the calls, but that he trusted they occurred since McConney noted them in a spreadsheet he kept. He also claimed he was completely uninvolved.

“People ask me questions all the time but I never worked on the statement of financial condition,” Eric said. “I never worked on it at the time, and I didn’t know anything about it really until this case came to fruition.”

Yet, a 2013 email from McConney shown by prosecutors read, “Hi Eric, I’m working on your dad’s annual financial statement. I need to value Seven Springs. Attached please find how we valued it last year.”

Eric said he became an EVP at the Trump Organization in 2014. Prosecutors asked if the business could be described “as a pyramid with your father at the top.”

“Yes,” Eric responded. “I worked with many people, but ultimately reported to my father… My father would have been my direct report.”

In 2017, Eric, Don Jr., and Ivanka took over the running of the company, Eric said. While Trump was in the White House, Eric said he didn’t report to anyone.

“My father relied on me.”

Post Jan. 2021, Trump was back in the business. Does he still depend solely on his sons to make all the decisions?

“I wouldn’t sell Mar-a-Lago without my father’s permission, no.”

After a break for lunch, Eric was back on the stand. He reiterated his claim that he was completely uninvolved with his father’s financial statements and that he knew “nothing” about them.

But prosecutor Andrew Amer continued to press him about his apparent role in creating the statements, focusing once again on the Seven Springs back-and-forth with McConney.

“Is it correct that when you received this email in August of 2013, you understood that your father had an annual financial statement and you understood that Mr. McConney was asking you for information to assist with notes for that financial statement?” Amer asked.

“Yes,” Eric conceded.

However, Eric’s testimony was undermined by his own sworn statements in a March 2023 deposition, during which he claimed, “I have no recollection of ever providing Jeff material to be used in a statement that I’ve ever seen.”

In response, Eric testified on Thursday, he didn’t think it “would have ever registered” to him that McConney was asking for information to be used in his dad’s statement of financial condition.

Another email Amer introduced was sent to Eric by McConney with the subject line “F/S,” for “financial statement.”

“You would have understood at the time you received this email that your father had an annual financial statement,” Amer said.

“We’re a major organization, a massive organization. I’m certainly aware that we have financial statements, absolutely,” Eric replied.

Amer put forth email after email between Eric and Trump Organization accountants, in one instance regarding loan repayments that would affect his father’s liquidity but “not on his net worth.”

Prosecutors asked if Eric understood what this meant.

“I understand you pay off debt with cash, that’s just Financial 101,” a peevish Eric said.

One email chain between Eric and Weisselberg concerned a line of credit for the Trump Organization’s Las Vegas property. Another, from McConney to Eric, requested his input on valuations for Trump Doonbeg, the company’s golf course in Ireland.

To this, Eric shot back, “I think we can agree that my father has financial statements.”

In another apparent setback, Amer brought up a note from McConney, which referenced a 2015 call he had with Eric about Seven Springs: “Per Eric Trump, leave value as-is.”

Eric said he didn’t recall anything about it, and said he had “never seen” the financial document prosecutors displayed in the courtroom.

That’s when prosecutors played another clip from Eric’s deposition in March, which seemed to contradict his testimony on Thursday.

When the clip ended, Amer asked Eric, “Will you concede that your testimony was incorrect, yes or no?”

Eric refused to back down, contending that he had been “on some phone calls” but said it was “a six-month process” and that prosecutors highlighted a mere “four interactions” he had.

In another interaction, Eric claimed he couldn’t remember participating in a conference call about his father’s 2021 statement of financial condition. So Amer read back previous testimony from Trump Organization executive Patrick Birney, in which he discussed sharing the draft statement with Eric.

“Does this jog your memory?” Amer asked.

“It does not,” Eric said.

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