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Donald Trump Jr. to testify at father’s civil fraud trial

Donald Trump Jr. to testify at father’s civil fraud trial
Donald Trump Jr., at the New York Stock Exchange to attend the initial public offering of PublicSq., an online marketplace company aimed at politically conservative consumers, at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, USA, on 20 July 2023. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

NEW YORK, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. is set to testify on Wednesday afternoon in a New York civil fraud trial accusing the former US president and his family businesses of inflating asset values to dupe lenders and insurers.

Donald Jr., an executive vice president at the Trump Organization and a co-defendant in the case, will be the first of Trump’s adult children to take the stand, followed by Eric and Ivanka Trump. Their father is set to testify on Monday.

The trial is one of many legal troubles Trump faces as he campaigns to retake the White House. He holds a commanding lead over his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to face Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2024 election, opinion polls show.

The elder Trump also faces four separate criminal prosecutions, including cases in Washington and Georgia related to his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

The lawsuit by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses Trump, his two adult sons and a handful of their family businesses of inflating their assets by billions of dollars to secure better loan terms.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and has repeatedly accused James and the judge presiding over the case of political bias.

He is under a limited gag order barring him from speaking publicly about court staff but has twice violated it and been fined $15,000 for attacking Justice Arthur Engoron’s top clerk, whom he has accused of bias.

The Washington judge overseeing his federal election subversion trial has also imposed a limited gag order. Trump has alleged that both violate his right to free speech.

Trump is not required to attend trial but has occasionally appeared, including for a dramatic reunion with his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who testified against his former boss last week.

Cohen, appearing face-to-face with Trump for the first time since their acrimonious break five years ago, said Trump directed him to inflate asset values to arrive at the arbitrary net worth he desired.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump would attend trial on Wednesday. He has a campaign event scheduled in Houston on Thursday, when Eric Trump is set to testify.

Donald Jr., who along with fellow co-defendant Eric Trump largely took over management of the Trump Organization from his father in 2017, is a central player in the case, overseeing crown jewels of the Trump real estate empire.

He has also served as a political attack dog for his father, and his testimony could be another flashpoint in a trial punctuated by sharp exchanges between lawyers and witnesses and heated arguments over the admissibility of evidence.

In September, before the trial began, Engoron found that Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth and ordered the dissolution of companies that control pillars of his real estate portfolio, including Trump Tower in Manhattan. That ruling is on hold while Trump appeals.

The trial largely concerns damages. James is seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban against Trump and his two adult sons from running businesses in New York and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.

By Jack Queen

(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

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