Prosecutors plan to call Trump and his three eldest children as witnesses in fraud case

New York attorney general looking to take control of profits she argues have been gained through years of ‘persistent and repeated business fraud’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 15 September 2023 20:48 BST
Related video:Trump says it’s ‘very unlikely’ he would pardon himself if convicted and then elected

Donald Trump and his three oldest children are set to be called as witnesses in the New York state trial into allegations of business fraud brought by state Attorney General Letitia James.

Ms James is set to call the former president and the children he appointed to be executives in the Trump Organization. Others included on the witness list are several of Mr Trump’s bankers, The Daily Beast reported.

Ms James is looking to take down Mr Trump’s corporation and to take control of profits she argues have been gained through years of “persistent and repeated business fraud”.

If the New York attorney general manages to get Mr Trump and his children onto the stand, it will be the first time they are forced to testify.

The allegations include that bankers handed Mr Trump billions in credit for personal financial statements that made a mockery of standard financial transactions.

One of the bankers who may testify is Rosemary Vrablic, formerly of Deutsche Bank, who continued to fund Mr Trump’s ventures even when they didn’t perform as desired. She later resigned just days after the insurrection on January 6, 2021.

The office of the state attorney general also plans on calling five other bankers at Deutsche, both current and former, according to The Daily Beast.

Other possible witnesses include the son of Allen Weisselberg, the former Trump Organization chief financial officer who went to jail on tax violations. His son Jack Weisselberg is a director at Ladder Capital Finance.

An ex-senior vice president at Capital One bank, Peter Welch, is also on the list.

Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former loyal fixer and now a strong critic of the former president, could also take the stand. Mr Cohen went to prison and lost his license to practice law after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations as well as bank and tax fraud and lying to Congress.

The prosecution also plans on calling Donald Bender, an accountant at MazarsUSA, who said in a trial last year against the firm that he didn’t probe the finances of the Trump Organization and simply the figures as provided.

Mr Trump looks set to be forced to take the stand in the middle of the battle for the Republican presidential nomination to account for the allegations that he unlawfully inflated the value of his properties. One of the allegations is that he tripled the size of his Manhattan penthouse by claiming that it was 20,000 square feet larger than it is.

The witness list doesn’t include the witnesses Mr Trump’s legal team plans on calling. The trial is set to go on for 56 days from early next month until the middle of December.

But the beginning of that trial is now up in the air after Mr Trump’s legal team on Thursday made a request for an appellate judge to put the trial on pause. The gamble paid off and the prosecution and the defence are now writing up arguments for a panel of five judges which may make a ruling on the issue in the next few weeks. The trial still looks set to begin sometime after 2 October.

The prosecutors also plan on questioning Mr Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, who was part of the effort for the Trump Organization to acquire the old post office building in downtown Washington, DC, which was turned into a hotel where foreign interests would spend money to gain favour with Mr Trump when he was president.

Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr are also on the list of possible witnesses. Eric Trump is in charge of how the firm acquires new properties, as well as real estate development and construction, according to the company.

Donald Trump Jr is supposedly in charge of evaluating agreements and branding.

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