Eric Trump returns to the witness stand in the family business’s civil fraud trial

NEW YORK — Eric Trump returned to the witness stand Friday to testify in the civil fraud trial that accuses his father of exaggerating his wealth and the value of his assets to deceive banks and insurance companies.

It’s the second day of testimony for Eric Trump, who helps run the former Republican president’s real estate empire and is now threatened by a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, testified Thursday that he was not involved in the financial statements at the heart of the case. James’ office says those documents were fraudulently inflated to secure loans and make deals.

Another executive at his father’s company testified that Eric Trump was on a video call about his father’s financial statement through 2021. The family and company were aware by then that James’ office was looking at the statements. But Eric confirmed on Friday that he did not remember the call.

“I receive thousands of calls,” he said, saying he picks up his phone at 5 a.m. and puts it down at midnight.

Earlier in the trial, appraiser David McArdle testified that Eric Trump took an active interest a decade ago in appraising some properties owned by Trump, including a golf course where the family envisioned 71 luxury homes in suburban Westchester County, New York. In an email at the time, McArdle said that “Eric Trump has lofty ideas about value,” assuming that townhouses could easily sell for $1,000 per square foot.

Trump’s son testified that he barely remembers McArdle. But as for his own views on the value of the potential development, he told the court Thursday: “I think a thousand dollars a square foot is certainly achievable, yes.” The villas were never built.

Donald Trump and the other defendants – including sons Donald Jr. and Eric – deny any wrongdoing. The former president called the case “sham,” a “fraud” and “a continuation of the largest witch hunt ever.”

The civil lawsuit is separate from four criminal cases the former president faces during his campaign to reclaim the White House in 2024.

The former president, who has regularly appeared in court to watch the trial, is expected to testify on Monday. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, is also scheduled to testify next week after an appeals court late Thursday denied her request to postpone her testimony.

The Trump family is called to the stand in front of James’ office, but defense attorneys will also have a chance to question them and can call them back as part of the defense case later.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered that a court-appointed receiver take control of certain Trump companies, putting future oversight of Trump Tower and other landmark properties in doubt. But the Court of Appeal has blocked implementation of that aspect of Engoron’s ruling for the time being.

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