Ivanka Trump testifies she was not involved in documents central to her father’s civil fraud trial

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump walks down the aisle as she attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial at the New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., November 8, 2023. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (AP) — Ivanka Trump testified Wednesday that she had no role in her father’s personal financial records, echoing her older brothers on documents central to a civil fraud trial that could upend Donald’s family business Trump.

The former president’s older daughter, who has been in his inner circle in both business and politics, completes the main part of the process. Her father took the stand Monday, and her brothers Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. testified last week.

Unlike her father and brothers, Ivanka Trump is no longer a defendant in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit. It alleges that the value of Donald Trump’s assets was fraudulently inflated for years on annual “statements of financial condition” that helped him obtain loans and insurance.

“I was not involved in his financial statement,” Ivanka Trump, a former executive vice president of the Trump Family Organization, told the court during even-handed testimony that countered her father’s scathing turn to the bench. (She flashed big smiles periodically and at one point thanked a lawyer in James’ office for bringing up a 2011 development proposal, saying it “brings back a lot of memories.”)

Before leaving the company to join her father in the White House, Ivanka Trump was the point person in establishing a lending relationship with Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit. It ended up extending hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the company with terms that required Donald Trump to submit its financial statements every year.

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Ivanka Trump testified that her husband, Jared Kushner, introduced her to a banker while the Trumps were looking for financing to buy and renovate the Doral golf resort near Miami.

The non-jury trial will decide charges of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records — but Judge Arthur Engoron has already resolved the case’s main allegation, ruling that Trump engaged in fraud. That decision came with provisions that could strip the former president of overseeing such marquees as Trump Tower, though an appeals court allows him to continue to oversee his holdings, at least for now.

James, a Democrat, is seeking more than $300 million in sanctions and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

The former president and Republican front-runner in 2024 denies any wrongdoing, as do the other defendants. He insisted in court Monday that his financial statements grossly understated his net worth, that any discrepancies were minor, that a disclaimer absolved him of responsibility and that “this case is a disgrace.”

Ivanka Trump was executive vice president of the Trump Organization before becoming an unpaid senior adviser in her father’s White House.

Her brothers are still executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, and they became trustees of a trust set up to run the company when their father went to the White House.

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The sons also claimed minimal knowledge of their father’s annual financial statements. Donald Trump Jr. testified that he only dealt with the documents in passing; Eric Trump said he relied entirely on accountants and lawyers to ensure the accuracy of the documents.

Ivanka Trump said she did not recall ever providing asset valuation information for the statements or reviewing them before they were finalized. She recalled being shown “a number of documents and correspondence that refer to financial statements, but that’s not something I’ve been involved in”.

“These were not things that I was familiar with either,” she testified when asked about financial statements indicating some apartments she had options to buy in a Trump-owned building on New York’s Park Avenue.

U.S. attorneys say Donald Trump gave his daughter a big discount on the apartments while claiming in his financial statements that they were worth much more.

She was later briefly excused from the stand as James’ legal team and defense attorneys tangled over the scope of her questioning.

As executive director of the Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump was involved in securing a loan and lease for a hotel in Washington and financing for Doral in Florida and a hotel and apartment skyscraper in Chicago, according to court documents.

As her father’s inauguration approached, she announced in January 2017 that she was stepping down from her job at the Trump Organization. After her time in the administration, she moved to Florida.

An appeals court dismissed her as a defendant in the case in June, saying the claims against her were too old.

Her lawyers argued that she should not testify. They said the state was just trying to harass the family by dragging it to court.

The attorney general’s office has argued that her testimony will be relevant, saying she participated in some of the events discussed in the case and remains financially and professionally tied to the Trump Organization and its leaders.

“Ms. Trump is going to do everything she can to try to separate herself from this corporation,” James predicted en route to court. “But she is inextricably linked to the Trump Organization and to these properties that she helped finance.”

Engoron and later an appellate court ruled that she must testify.

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