Although Donald Trump is on trial for inflating his property values, that hasn’t stopped his legal team and his son, Donald Trump Jr., from exaggerating details about his buildings during the trial.
Trump Jr. testified again Monday, spending most of his time on the stand recounting various Trump real estate deals in glowing terms — prompting an objection from the state that the testimony was “unfocused to anything relevant” to the case. The former president’s eldest son attempted a charm offensive, beginning with a joke about perjury. “I’d say it’s good to be here, your honor, but I have a feeling that the attorney general would sue me for perjury if I said that,” he quipped. He also frequently praised his father’s “incredible vision” and business savvy.
But Trump Jr. made a questionable claim about the occupancy rate of the Trump Organization’s property at 40 Wall St. Trump Jr. said that the building had 90 percent occupancy, which prosecutor Colleen Faherty probed during her cross-examination. Faherty pointed out that a recent news article reported the building’s occupancy was 77 percent, a 22 percent decrease since 2015, and noted that the building’s loan was transferred to a special servicer.
“Isn’t it true that 40 Wall St. was just placed on the servicer’s watch list?” Faherty asked Trump Jr., according to CBS News.
“I don’t know that for sure,” Trump Jr. responded.
Faherty pointed out another news story reporting that the owner of Trump’s Waikiki hotel in Hawaii is buying out the Trumps’ management contract in order to turn it into a Hilton property.
“Is it correct that it is ditching the Trump name?” Faherty asked Trump Jr.
The former president’s son characterized the sale as a boon for his family’s business. “If they want to buy it out for millions of dollars, I’m OK with that,” he said.
The defense also displayed a slide on Monday making a suspicious claim about the height of 40 Wall St. The slide said that 40 Wall St. is a “72 story” building, but as Forbes’ Dan Alexander pointed out, the building is listed as just 63 stories tall in both an SEC bond prospectus and a New York City tax document. Per The New York Times, the Trump Organization has frequently claimed the building is 72 stories “when measured at its full height,” even though the building has only 63 stories of commercial space.
Alexander additionally mentioned that while the slide described the building as “directly across from the New York Stock Exchange,” it is in fact not directly across the street (although 40 Wall St. is diagonally across the street from the exchange).
This is not the first time Trump Jr. has testified in this case. The state called him to the stand earlier this month, where Trump Jr. claimed he relied on the Trump Organization’s chief finance officer and accountants to validate the claims regarding property values.
After his testimony Monday, Trump Jr. again said he relied on accountants to make financial valuations of Trump properties. “I’m not supposed to rely on a Big 5 accounting firm? … I rely on them for accounting, but I’m supposed to know more than them … Am I supposed to know more — ‘Oh, Don Jr. doesn’t know anything about it.’ I’m not an accountant. I’m a business guy!”
Donald Trump Jr. again says he didn't work on his dad's financial statements, arguing he relied on outside accountants because he can't know more than them:
“Am I supposed to know more — ‘Oh, Don Jr. doesn't know anything about it.’ I'm not an accountant. I'm a business guy!” pic.twitter.com/HsGgYeROkZ
— The Recount (@therecount) November 13, 2023
Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump testified last Thursday and claimed to know little about the financial documents in question. His son Eric Trump is expected to testify again later in the trial, which may continue into mid-December. The former president testified on Nov. 6 while refusing to stay on topic during long diatribes.
“I beseech you to control him if you can,” Judge Arthur Engoron implored Trump’s attorneys at the time. “If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”
Trump has consistently denied any financial wrongdoing. He has been repeatedly admonished by the court and threatened with consequences for violating a gag order by attacking the judge and a court clerk in social media posts.
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