The oldest child of Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to testify in court on Wednesday in the New York trial against Trump and his business. This will be followed by testimonies from other family members, adding to the drama of the long-running civil case.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and her team are accusing Donald Trump Jr. and the family business of manipulating assets on financial forms in order to obtain favorable terms on loans and insurance.
Eric Trump, the brother of Donald Trump Jr., is scheduled to testify on Thursday. Then, the following week, their father and Ivanka Trump will take the stand.
The witnesses’ testimonies could present a challenge for Attorney General James’ team. They will need to construct a plausible narrative against the lawsuit and do so in a way that supports each other’s testimonies, according to law professor Robert Sanders.
Sanders added, “They are unlikely to pull this off.”
He compared the situation to that of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, who offered evasive answers during his trial only to be confronted with strong evidence of alleged fraud.
Although Mr. Trump and his children have the right to assert their Fifth Amendment rights and stay silent, in civil trials like this one, the judge or jury can interpret their silence as an admission of guilt to some extent.
The presence of the Trump family at the trial will bring even more drama to a case that has already seen its fair share of theatrics.
Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer turned accuser, provided heated testimony in support of the state’s lawsuit, prompting the former president to accuse Cohen of lying.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already fined Mr. Trump twice for violating a gag order.
Prior to the trial, Judge Engoron ruled that Mr. Trump misrepresented the value of some of his properties, thereby giving AG James an early victory on one of her claims.
Mr. Trump has maintained his innocence, claiming that AG James and the presiding judge lack understanding of basic real estate practices.
While attending the trial in Manhattan, Mr. Trump is also campaigning in Iowa and other locations on alternate days.
Speaking from the courthouse hallways, he accused the Biden administration of using the federal government and New York Democrats to hinder his political aspirations.
Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, commented, “My guess is that most hardcore Trump supporters are seeing all of these prosecutions and lawsuits involving Trump and his family as a kind of ordeal by fire. Martyrdom fits nicely with the long-term Trump argument that he is the target of the deep state.”
Despite confidently dismissing witnesses like Michael Cohen, some pundits believe that Mr. Trump may struggle to see his children testify.
George Conway, a lawyer and frequent Trump critic, said, “He’s going to be on edge hearing them admit that they didn’t have a basis for things or saying that daddy told me to do it. That’s what I would be worried about if I were him, but I don’t know what they’re going to say.”
Defense attorneys attempted to prevent Ivanka Trump from testifying, as she is not named in the lawsuit and left the family business in 2017 to work at the White House.
However, the court ruled that Ivanka Trump’s testimony is relevant since she conducted business in New York and owns property there. She is scheduled to testify on November 8, two days after her father.
In late 2022, Ivanka Trump announced that she does not plan to be involved in politics or her father’s 2024 campaign, distancing herself from the polarizing environment surrounding him.
Robert Sanders believes that she is not likely to intentionally harm her siblings but also will not protect them at her own expense. If the right questions are asked and she has the answers, it could have a significant impact on the Trump family’s case.