Ivanka Trump Testifies, Prosecution Rests in Trump Fraud Trial

Ivanka Trump was the last of the witnesses called by the New York Attorney General’s office in a case against her father former President Donald Trump and Trump Organization’s top executives. She testified on Wednesday about her involvement up through 2016—about matters outside the case’s statute of limitations. On Thursday, there will be a motions hearing, and next week the trial will continue with the defense presenting their side.

Ms. Trump was an executive vice president at Trump Organization, holding the same title as her brothers Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. still do. She left the organization in January 2017, and took an adviser position in the White House alongside her father. Over the summer, an appeals court decision that set a statute of limitations on the case had dismissed Ms. Trump as a defendant.

“I am not an accountant,” she said early into her testimony on Wednesday, echoing her brothers’ testimonies that they had not been personally involved in the creating of the Trump Organization statements of financial condition (SFC) that are at the center of the case.

“Did you have any role in preparing Donald J. Trump’s statements of financial condition?” she was asked.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Ms. Trump answered.

New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the petition against President Trump and his companies last September, accusing him of inflating his net worth by up to $2.2 billion per year in those statements, thereby defrauding the state by making banks and insurers take more risk and earn less on interest than they would have otherwise. She is seeking $250 million in penalties, a figure partially based on what the state attorney’s expert witness calculated Trump Organization could have paid had their SFC totals been lower, the canceling of Trump Organization business certificates, and to bar the defendants from doing business in the state for five years.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron is presiding over the case’s bench trial and has already ruled in a summary judgment for Ms. James, finding that President Trump inflated his net worth, and canceled his business certificates.

No one knows how the dissolution of the Trump Organization—which is not a corporation but an umbrella name for President Trump’s numerous holding companies—would play out.

An appeals court has put a pause on Justice Engoron’s order that a third-party receiver handle the dissolving of these companies immediately, while defense attorneys seek to overturn the decision in the appellate court. They argued that the sudden disappearance of these companies would also affect the livelihood of hundreds of Trump Organization employees, and claimed the judge had not thoroughly considered the effects of his order. During a court hearing, attorneys had asked whether his order would mean the selling off of buildings like Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street, and the judge said he had to think about it.

Old Post Office

While working at the Trump Organization, Ms. Trump focused on the redevelopment of the Old Post Office building in Washington.

“[I] spent enormous time shepherding those buildings through redevelopment,” she testified. Ms. Trump spent most of her time at the family business under Andy Weiss, head of development and reconstruction, she said, and her brothers had been on this project as well.

The Old Post Office, a historic property, was leased by DJT Holdings LLC in 2013, and then developed into the Trump International Hotel Washington, opening in 2016. It closed in May 2022, and was sold and reopened the same year as the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC.

NTD Photo
Morning traffic flows past the Trump International Hotel in Washington on Sept. 12, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

During cross-examination, Ms. Trump again confirmed that she was not responsible for developing the methodology used in the SFCs, and did not recall being asked about them by those they had worked with.

She gave more details about her work at the Trump Organization, and said she was less involved in the golf developments and had spent much of her time on the “herculean” Old Post Office conversion, which included renovating more than 700 rooms. She had also described the proposal for the conversion, and how the project had been viewed as “a very successful public-private partnership.”

Ms. Trump added that her experience working with the federal government in this project was “positive,” prompting defense attorneys to add for the record that “the government is sitting here laughing.”

Ms. Trump clarified that she has been on the record in the past speaking about the positive feedback received from congressional representatives in the project, one reason being that she had committed to hiring within the district.

“I believe they thought we had over-delivered on the initial proposal,” she added. “They were very happy.”

Defense attorneys said in court that Deutsche Bank had characterized the Trump family as one of its top 10 revenue generators, and Ms. Trump confirmed this was consistent with how the bank viewed the family.

Statute of Limitations

Ms. Trump was questioned by state attorneys about her involvement in other projects, including obtaining financing for the Doral development in Miami with a loan from Deutsche Bank.

She said she could not recall communications and terms from 2011, which she was presented with during the testimony. This prompted defense attorney Chris Kise to once again raise an objection due to the statute of limitations.

“I’m very aware of the statute of limitations cutoff. I believe part of this is potentially relevant to the injunctive relief the plaintiff has requested. So, overruled,” Justice Engoron said.

Mr. Kise later objected again, saying, “I hope the court, when we start our case next week, offers us this extraordinary latitude.”

Throughout the trial, the judge has allowed in evidence and testimony on matters from outside the statute of limitations, ruling that they were admissible if they could be tied to charges that fell within the statute of limitations. Mr. Kise objected to this line of questioning at length on Wednesday, arguing that a loan proposal Ms. Trump may have worked on years before the statute of limitations period could not be connected to allegedly false financial statements compiled years later.

The June appeals court ruling had limited the case to transactions completed after Feb. 6, 2016, and claims accrued after July 13, 2014.

Ms. Trump was asked several questions about a 2011 financing, which she was unable to answer, saying either she had no recollection or was not involved with what she believed were draft and not final terms. She also could not recall many of the details from a 2016 loan proposal she had been involved in, according to the correspondence shown at the trial. She was also asked about communications she had with her husband, who also works in real estate.

During cross-examination, state attorneys objected to the use of the same documents by defense attorneys, prompting Mr. Kise to argue that the court was operating under “two sets of standards.”

Contested Testimony

Ms. Trump had originally sought to avoid testifying, but an appeal regarding the attorney general’s subpoena was denied by Justice Engoron, and rejected later again in the appeals court. Her attorney had argued that she no longer lives in New York, only visiting a few days out of the year, and no longer works at the Trump Organization.

Ms. James told reporters outside the courthouse Wednesday morning that Ms. Trump “secured, negotiated loans to obtain favorable terms” based on the SFCs in the center of the case, and therefore her testimony was necessary.

“She was very much involved,” Ms. James said, claiming that Ms. Trump personally benefitted from fraud. “She’s inextricably tied to the Trump Organization and these properties.”

President Trump blasted the decision in a social media post the day before.

“Now they are trying to bring Ivanka into the case, despite the Court of Appeals ruling that she cannot be charged. Sad!” he wrote.

After the day concluded, defense attorney Alina Habba claimed the attorney general had three years to prepare a case but failed to prove it in court.

Ms. Habba declined to name her first witness, but said “it’ll be great.”

“You have to understand, we have nothing to hide,” she said.

From The Epoch Times

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