New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the case against the Trump Organization and maintains that between 2011 and 2021 the company falsified financial statements regarding the development of several real estate projects and artificially inflated Mr Trump’s net worth in order to get better financing terms from banks and insurance companies.
This was done by over-stating valuations of the former president’s most prestigious holdings including his triplex penthouse at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and his current home at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Their entire New York real estate empire is already in peril after a pre-trial ruling included the cancellation of their business licences in the state.
As the prosecution’s case draws to a close, three of his adult children are taking the stand to testify under oath, which begs the question: how are they wrapped up in all this and why is their testimony important at the trial?
All three of them were originally named as co-defendants alongside their father, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, and former company controller Jeff McConney.
Donald Jr began his testimony on 1 November with Eric then taking the stand on 2 November.
Both acted on their father’s behalf at the Trump Organization while he was president, running the company alongside Weisselberg.
They had also been closely involved in project developments prior to that including prestigious properties such as the Trump International Hotels in Washington, DC and Chicago, and golf courses in Miami and Westchester County.
Judge Arthur Engoron‘s earlier ruling before the trial started that fraud had occurred means that, as signatories to the underlying fraudulent documents, Donald Jr and Eric’s testimony is key to understanding the workings of the company.
They both failed to recall many details on the stand during testimony and argued that the blame lay at the feet of the accountants and lawyers whom they hired to prepare financial documents that they then signed.
However, documentary evidence, including emails, appears to show them involved in appraisals and contributing to the preparation of statements of financial condition that were provided to banks.
Meanwhile, their sister Ivanka succeeded in removing herself from the list of defendants earlier this year when an appeals court ruled in her favour in June, saying the claims against her were too old.
The former president’s oldest daughter had announced back in January 2017, ahead of her father’s inauguration, that she was stepping away from her job as an executive vice president at the Trump Organization to become an unpaid senior adviser inside his White House.
After her father’s term ended, she moved to Florida and has since distanced herself from the family business as well as her father’s political ambitions.
Nevertheless, she has also been compelled to testify after the state’s lawyers argued that she was a key participant in some events discussed in the case – and to this day remains financially and professionally intertwined with the family business and its leaders.
Judge Engoron agreed, citing documents showing that Ivanka continued to have ties to some businesses in New York and still owns Manhattan apartments.
During her years at the Trump Organization, Ivanka was involved in negotiating and securing financing for various properties, including a lease and loan for the former Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, and loans for Trump’s Doral golf resort near Miami and the Trump International Hotel and Condominiums in Chicago, according to court filings.
According to the New York Attorney General’s office, Ivanka retained a financial interest in the Trump Organization’s operations even after leaving for the White House, including through an interest in the now-sold Washington hotel.
Another appeal was denied in the midst of her brothers’ testimony and she is now scheduled to take the stand on 8 November, two days after her father’s testimony on 6 November.
It is expected that the prosecution will rest following her testimony. The defence team will then lay out its case.
In addition to the pre-trial ruling, there are six other charges for Judge Engoron to rule on, including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy. In addition to losing business licences, there could also be a fine of $250m.
The trial is expected to run until the week before Christmas.
With reporting from the Associated Press.