Here's How Trump’s $250 Million Civil Fraud Trial Became a Family Affair: “Expect the Unexpected”

Here's How Trump’s $250 Million Civil Fraud Trial Became a Family Affair: “Expect the Unexpected”
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Spencer Platt; (inset): Chip Somodevilla

This week, as three of former President Donald Trump's children and Trump himself get ready to testify in New York, the civil fraud trial takes on a familial milieu. During their pre-trial depositions, Trump Jr. and Eric repeatedly used the Fifth Amendment clause for protection against self-incrimination. If the Trump family continues to do so, the court's and (perhaps) Trump's tolerance may run out, The Guardian reported. On November 1, Trump Jr. took the stand first, then Eric Trump followed on November 2, and finally, Trump will reappear on November 8. In the meanwhile, Ivanka Trump will also testify on November 8 if the court orders her to do so.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Ethan Miller
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Ethan Miller

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As things stand right now, the family's trial appears to be an uphill battle. Trump and his adult sons were previously found guilty of financial fraud by Judge Arthur Engoron for misrepresenting the value of their assets on official state financial documents to increase their net worth.



It's uncertain how Trump—or his grown sons, who have a history of making divisive remarks on their father's behalf—will behave when testifying. Trump Jr. previously stated that “these monsters want to have my father in a courthouse” in an interview in early October. “Look at the portfolio of properties, they’re incredible,” he said. “No one has done more for the New York City skyline than Donald Trump.”


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Thousands of pages of papers that have been submitted as evidence form the basis for a large portion of the lawsuit. When Trump's attorneys attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed in light of Michael Cohen's testimony last week, Judge Engoron remarked, “There’s enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom.”


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Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University, stated that even if the Trump family continues to be evasive during the trial—perhaps responding to numerous questions with “I don’t recall” as Donald Trump Jr. did on November 1, per The Guardian—they will likely have to deal with the information presented in the documents: “Some of the family members may take the bait and make explanations... With witnesses, even when you try to prepare them, expect the unexpected.”



The Trump family has so far been implicated in securing many loans using exaggerated financial data, according to testimony from witnesses that range from Trump Organization executives to accountants and real estate executives. Throughout the trial, Trump and his lawyers have insisted that Trump undervalued the assets listed in the financial statements and that the New York Attorney General's prosecution is politically motivated.



Levenson stated that since Trump is set to testify after his two sons, the former President will likely receive the majority of their unresolved inquiries. Upon the completion of testimony from the Trump family, including Ivanka, the AG's office has stated that it will rest the case. “It’s going to box Trump in a bit,” Levenson said. “Will his children let him take the fall for it?”

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