Ivanka Trump takes stand in New York civil fraud trial

Ivanka Trump arrives to deliver testimony at the civil fraud trial in New York against the Trump Organization (Michael M. Santiago)
Ivanka Trump arrives to deliver testimony at the civil fraud trial in New York against the Trump Organization (Michael M. Santiago)

Ivanka Trump, the former president's daughter, took the stand Wednesday in the fraud trial against the family business and said she was not involved in the drawing up of the financial statements at the heart of the case.

The 42-year-old, who left the Trump Organization in 2017 to become a top White House advisor to her father, is not a defendant in the civil fraud case but was subpoenaed to testify.

Donald Trump, his eldest sons Don Jr and Eric and other Trump Organization executives are accused of inflating the value of their real estate assets by billions of dollars to obtain more favorable bank loans and insurance terms.

After being sworn in, Ivanka Trump was asked by Louis Solomon, a lawyer from the New York state attorney general's office which brought the case, if she had "any role in preparing Donald J. Trump's statements of financial condition?"

"Not that I'm aware of," she said. "I didn't know about his personal statements, per se, other than what you've showed me."

A number of the loans secured by the Trump Organization were predicated on the former president's evaluation of his fortune.

Ivanka Trump was also asked about various loans made to the family business between 2011 and 2016 but said she could not remember much of the details.

"I don't recall, sitting here today, seeing these terms from 2011," she said about an email exchange involving Inbursa Bank.

New York state Attorney General Letitia James said ahead of Ivanka Trump's testimony that she had "secured, negotiated loans to obtain favorable terms based on fraudulent statements of financial condition.

"She will attempt today to distance herself from the company," James told reporters. "But unfortunately, the facts will reveal that in fact she was very much involved.

"We uncovered the scheme and she benefited from it personally."

The testimony by Ivanka Trump, who has kept a low profile since her father left the White House in January 2021, follows that of her father and her two brothers.

In contrast to her father's volatile appearance on the stand on Monday in the same Manhattan courtroom, Ivanka Trump appeared relaxed and measured, her voice at times barely audible.

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, clashed repeatedly with the judge while testifying, denouncing the trial as a "disgrace" and "election interference."

- $250 million penalty -

Trump and his sons do not risk going to jail, but face up to $250 million in penalties and potential removal from the management of the family company.

Even before opening arguments, Engoron ruled that James's office had already shown "conclusive evidence" that Trump had overstated his net worth on financial documents by between $812 million and $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021.

As a result, the judge ordered the liquidation of the companies managing the assets in question, such as the Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street skyscrapers in Manhattan.

That order is on hold pending appeal, but its potentially sweeping consequences highlight the high stakes for the former president.

The civil fraud trial is one of several legal battles the 77-year-old Trump faces as he seeks to recapture the presidency.

In March, Trump -- who was impeached twice while in office -- faces a federal trial in Washington on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.