During testimony in March, Eric Trump tried to distance himself from the valuations of his father’s private Westchester golf club.
“I’m pouring concrete,” he said. “I manage properties. I don’t focus on ratings between a law firm and [real estate company] Cushman [& Wakefield]. It’s just not what I do in my day-to-day duties. And you know, I have a hard time recognizing names here.
Testimony over the past two days in Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court appears to undermine those denials.
On Thursday, Cushman & Wakefield Senior Managing Director David McArdle scrutinized emails with Eric Trump demonstrating the interest former President Donald Trump’s son had in the appraisals of the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff, New York, along with the Seven Springs estate of 213 acres. Eric Trump is facing trial with his father, brother Donald Trump Jr. and two Trump Organization executives on civil fraud claims.
Months ago, Eric Trump insisted in testimony that he remembered McArdle’s name “very vaguely” — and said he had a similarly hazy memory of Cushman’s hold on an appraisal involving the Seven Springs estate. The former president’s son argued that such considerations were “extremely inconsistent” with his role and “extremely inconsistent” with the role of Trump Organization tax attorney Sherry Dillon. The attorney general’s attorney presented emails from 2013 and 2014 that appear to show Eric Trump’s deep involvement in the matter.
In a September 13, 2013 email, McArdle told a fellow appraiser, “Of course, Eric Trump has lofty ideas about value and accepts that $1,000+ psf is not a problem.” McArdle explained his meaning on the stand as questioning turned to the 71-unit development at Trump National Golf Club.
“Eric loved this project,” McArdle testified Thursday, referring to the Trump offspring. “He thought it was very special.”
Other emails show Eric Trump in direct correspondence with McArdle and Dillon, telling the former to “please complete, but delay sending the evaluation until further notice.”
“I’m happy to discuss anytime,” Eric Trump told McArdle on October 16, 2013.
Earlier that month, email correspondence between the two surfaced that showed they were arranging a phone call.
On August 1, 2014, Cushman appraised the property at $56.5 million. The Trump Organization eventually pledged a year later to pledge to develop more than 150 acres of Seven Springs in exchange for tax breaks, in what’s known as a conservation easement. Evidence shows that McArdle received an appraisal of $43.5 million for that easement in April 2014.
In August, Eric Trump wrote to McArdle and Dillon to discuss the draft: “Assuming we’re all on the same page after the conversation, we can finalize and hopefully put this to bed,” following that sentence with plans to organize Conference Call .
Trump’s financial statements valued Seven Springs at $234 million that year.
New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges that the Trump Organization used an inflated valuation of Seven Springs to extract multimillion-dollar tax breaks.
On Friday, counsel for the attorney general, Andrew Amer, called Raymond Flores, vice president of acquisitions and development at the Trump Organization. Flores was also shown communications with Eric Trump regarding the property’s appraisal.
In one 2015 message, Eric Trump put Flores in touch with Brian Lynch, who had recently been hired as general manager at Trump National Westchester, asking that the two “hook up” to discuss spreadsheets.
The evidence showed that Lynch followed up with a message whose attachments reflected the club’s membership deposits and liabilities.
The third week of Trump’s civil fraud trial has ended with his testimony.
When the trial began earlier this month, Trump family attorney Clifford Roberts promised that the former president and his sons would present their sides of the story on the stand. All three are on the witness list for the state and the defense.
Eric Trump did not respond to a request for comment by press time.