NATIONAL NEWS

Ivanka Trump takes witness stand in the civil fraud trial that’s scrutinizing the family business

Nov 8, 2023, 8:22 AM

FILE - In this image from video released by the House Select Committee, an exhibit shows Ivanka Tru...

FILE - In this image from video released by the House Select Committee, an exhibit shows Ivanka Trump, during a video interview with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol at the hearing Thursday, June 16, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. It's Ivanka Trump's turn to take the witness stand in the civil fraud trial that is publicly probing into former President Donald Trump's family business. (House Select Committee via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(House Select Committee via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Ivanka Trump began testifying Wednesday in the civil fraud trial that is publicly probing the Trump family business, making an appearance she tried to prevent.

Ex-President Donald Trump’s elder daughter, who has been in his inner circle in both business and politics, rounds out a major stretch in the trial. Her father gave caustic testimony on Monday, and her brothers Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. testified last week.

Unlike them, she is no longer a defendant in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit. It alleges that Donald Trump’s asset values were fraudulently pumped up for years on financial statements that helped him get loans and insurance.

The non-jury trial will decide allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records — but Judge Arthur Engoron already has resolved the lawsuit’s top claim by ruling that Trump engaged in fraud. That decision came with provisions that could strip the ex-president of oversight of such marquee properties as Trump Tower, though an appeals court is allowing him continued control of his holdings, at least for now.

James, a Democrat, is seeking over $300 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

The ex-president and Republican 2024 front-runner denies any wrongdoing, as do the other defendants. He insisted in court Monday that his financial statements greatly underestimated his net worth, that any discrepancies were minor, that a disclaimer absolved him of liability and that “this case is a disgrace.”

Ivanka Trump was an executive vice president at the family’s Trump Organization before becoming an unpaid senior adviser in her father’s White House. Like her brothers, who are still Trump Organization EVPs, she has professed minimal knowledge of their father’s annual financial statements.

“I don’t, specifically, know what was prepared on his behalf for him as a person, separate and distinct from the organization and the properties that I was working on,” she said during sworn questioning for the investigation that eventually led to the lawsuit. She said she didn’t know who prepared the statements or how the documents were compiled.

As a Trump Organization executive, Ivanka Trump dealt with securing a loan and a lease for a Washington hotel and financing for the Doral golf resort near Miami and a hotel and condo skyscraper in Chicago, according to court filings.

As her father’s inauguration neared, she announced in January 2017 that she was stepping away from her Trump Organization job. After her time in the administration, she moved to Florida.

An appeals court dismissed her as a defendant in the lawsuit in June, saying the claims against her were too old.

Her attorneys contended that she shouldn’t have to testify. They said the state was just trying to harass the family by dragging her into court.

The attorney general’s office argued that her testimony would be relevant, saying she was involved in some events discussed in the case and remains financially and professionally entwined with the Trump Organization and its leaders. The company has bought insurance for her and her businesses, managed her household staff and credit card bills, rented out her apartment and paid her legal fees, according to the state’s court papers.

Engoron and, later, an appeals court ruled that she had to testify.

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Ivanka Trump takes witness stand in the civil fraud trial that’s scrutinizing the family business