Donald Trump Jr. takes the witness stand in New York trial of fraud suit against his father

Trump Jr
Donald Trump Jr. waits to testify in New York Supreme Court, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in New York.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig


Donald Trump Jr. took the witness stand Wednesday at the civil fraud trial over whether his father overstated his wealth to banks and insurers, a case that threatens former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire.

The first family member to testify, Donald Trump Jr. greeted the scene with a quip: “I should have worn makeup,” he jested as news photographers took his photo.

He was collected and seemed at ease as a lawyer for New York state asked him a beginning series of questions about his education and career at the family business, the Trump Organization. He made some lighthearted asides — for instance, when asked whether he belonged to an accountants organization, he replied, “Sounds very exciting, but no.”

But the Trump Organization executive vice president took serious care to establish that he’s not an accountant or an expert on accounting standards that have been mentioned in the case. The lawsuit centers on whether the former president and his business misled banks and insurers by inflating his net worth on financial statements.

“I rely on professionals and CPAs” on certain matters, Trump Jr. said.

The Trumps deny wrongdoing and are fighting to keep the business intact.

The ex-president’s eldest son is kicking off a blockbuster stretch as the trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit enters its second month.

James, a Democrat, alleges that Donald Trump, his company and top executives, including sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., conspired to exaggerate his wealth by billions of dollars on his financial statements that were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals.

Eric Trump is expected to take the stand next. Then the former president, family patriarch and 2024 Republican front-runner is slated for Monday. State lawyers have expected to call his eldest daughter, ex-Trump Organization executive and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, as their final witness on Nov. 8. On Wednesday, her lawyer filed an appeal challenging a judge’s decision to require her testimony.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are both executive vice presidents at the Trump Organization and defendants in James’ lawsuit. Eric Trump has oversight over the company’s operations, while his brother has been involved in running the company’s property development. He and longtime company finance chief Allen Weisselberg were also trustees of the revocable trust Trump set up to hold the company’s assets when he became president.

Before the trial, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent. He ordered that a court-appointed receiver seize control of some of his companies — potentially stripping him and his family of such marquee properties as Trump Tower — though an appeals court has halted enforcement for now.

Like their father, both brothers have denied wrongdoing.

Donald Trump attended the trial’s first three days in early October and showed up again for four days in the past two weeks, but his campaign schedule suggests it’s unlikely he’ll return to see his sons testify.