Don Jr. Has a Conveniently Fuzzy Memory of Trump Org Finances: “I Leave It to My CPAs”
Donald Trump Jr. took the stand Wednesday in the New York civil fraud trial brought against the family and its namesake company, testifying that he has done “anything and everything” for the Trump Organization—save for accounting work. “I know nothing about GAAP,” Trump Jr. said, alluding to generally accepted accounting principles. “I leave it to my CPAs.”
The eldest Trump son and his younger brother Eric Trump are both named as defendants in the case—along with their father, 10 of the family’s companies, and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer. Letitia James, the New York attorney general, has accused the organization and its operative family members of netting hundreds of millions of dollars in loans by sharing grossly inflated asset values with lenders and insurers to secure financing and other deals.
Trump Jr., for his part, played coy in response to questioning from prosecutor Colleen Faherty. He introduced himself as a simple “real estate broker” and admitted that he had forgotten much of what he once knew about New York’s rent-stabilization laws. As for Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, and falsifying business records last year, Trump Jr. vaguely referenced the “legal issues” that his father’s former accountant “got himself into.”
“I have no knowledge of the specifics of how it happened,” he said of Weisselberg. “He is no longer working at the Trump Organization.”
Trump Jr. also said that he could not recall whether his father was still a trustee in the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, which was used to hold Donald Trump’s assets after he became president in 2017. At one point, he even claimed not to know how to pronounce the word revocable. “Now that we finally have the opportunity to ask an actual trustee: is it re-VOH-cable or REH-vocable?” asked Arthur Engoron, the case’s presiding judge. “Your honor, it’s a good question,” the defendant replied, “but I actually don’t have the answer.”
As executive vice presidents of the company, the two Trump brothers are focal points in the state’s case. They began managing the Trump Organization in earnest after their father assumed the presidency in 2017, with Eric Trump handling the company’s day-to-day operations and Donald Trump Jr. overseeing several of its development deals.
According to the state, Trump Jr. is one of the senior Trump Organization figures with personal knowledge of the development and performance of key properties named in the case, including the Trump International Hotel in Chicago, the Trump Tower and Trump Building in New York, and the Trump International Golf Links in Scotland. His signature appeared on statements of financial condition that James says exaggerated the Trump family’s wealth. When asked by Faherty about one of the statements, Trump Jr. testified Wednesday that accountants were responsible for ”[putting] together a document of this nature” and denied taking part in the preparation of a statement of financial condition from 2017.
“The accountants worked on it,” he added. ”That’s what we paid them for.”
In agreement with the attorney general’s office, Engoron ruled in September that Trump and the Trump Organization had committed fraud for years. As part of the summary judgment, Engoron ordered the termination of the Trump Organization’s New York business licenses.