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From New York Times, I'm Michael Bolbaro. This is The Daily. Today, of the many charges and lawsuits filed against former President Trump, perhaps the most personal, is playing out in a courtroom in New York City in a case that could end in him losing control of his best-known buildings and paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. Over the past few days, my colleague, Joan LeBronwich, has been inside the courtroom, watching as Trump's children and Trump himself have taken the stand. It's Wednesday, November 8th.tonight. It's Wednesday, November 8th.tonight. It's Wednesday, November eighth.


Jonas, thank you for taking a break in your busy schedule of being in the courtroom.


I'm very happy to be here.


So, Jonas, you spent the past several days in a New York City courtroom where, for the first time, the adult sons of Donald Trump and Donald Trump himself have all taken the stand and testified. And we're going to get to their testimony. But I want to start by asking you to just describe this case because there are so many cases against Donald Trump. This is one of many, and it's a.


Civil case.


Which is probably why I think it's gotten a lot less attention than all the criminal cases against Trump. Just tell us about this case.


This case was brought by New York's attorney general, Leticia James. James ran for office in 2018, and she ran for office talking about Donald Trump a lot of the time.


Right. She's a Democrat, and she made clear he was in her sights.


That's exactly right. And so she takes office in 2019. And shortly thereafter, Michael Cohen, who's a former fixer for Trump, he testifies in front of Congress. I don't know if you remember this from the fog of the Trump presidency.


I do.


But he testifies about some of the conduct that Donald Trump has undertaken that might be of interest to Congress. And that includes manipulating the values of his property to get favorable loans from banks, from insurers. And so with Tish, James, and Office, those comments quickly turn into an investigation.


I am announcing that today we are filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump.


And that investigation turns into a lawsuit that she files in 2022 against Trump and against his adult sons and against his company.


The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.


And broadly, she's accusing him of exaggerating the values of a lot of his properties, his hotels, his apartment buildings, his golf clubs. And there's some really good specific details in here. So, for.


Example-take Mr. Trump's triplex. You know the triplex apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue?


One of the properties at issue is Trump Tower, and he has this triplex apartment in Trump Tower. Right. Now, this number is burned into my brain. His triplex apartment is 10,996 sqft.


Nice, big apartment.


That's right. But for years-Mr.


Trump represented that his apartment spanned more than 30,000 sqft.


Trump was saying it was three times that big on the financial statements. That was the value of it, as if it were 30,000 feet.


Based on that inflated square footage, the value of the apartment in 2015 and 2016 was $327 million. To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount. Triple the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate fraud. Not an honest mistake.


This is a great example of what he's accused of doing writ large. He's exaggerating the number of square feet in the apartment. He's valuing it as if it were three times as big as it actually is. And that's the number that goes into the financial statement, and those financial statements go to banks and insurers. To what end? Overall, the attorney general says, by doing this, the loan terms were better, the insurance terms were better. It gave him favorable treatment from those companies that he was doing business with. And she's asking for really serious punishments out of this. She's asking for at least a $250 million fine.




Quarter of a billion dollars. That's right. She's asking that Trump be permanently bored from doing business in New York.


Wait, I want to pause on that because that's a very big deal.




Business, the Trump organization is based in New York. He owns a ton of big buildings in New York, that would be a huge deal.


This case strikes at the foundation of Donald Trump's personal image, public image. This guy is a builder, a businessman, a New York real estate developer, and this case directly targets that.


Right. It sounds like this case seeks to basically separate those buildings, that empire, from the man itself.


Literally. And if James gets her way, by the end of this case, Donald Trump won't be able to do business in New York.


Wow. So what happens as this case moves from allegation toward court case and closer and closer to a trial?


So because of the nature of this case, the nature of the law that it's brought under, and the kinds of consequences that James is asking for, there's only a judge in this case. There's no jury. The judge is the ultimate finder of fact. His name is Arthur F. Guran. He's quirky. He likes to make jokes from the bench. He makes all these old, tiny references like he referenced Fiddler on the roof in one ruling.


Only in New York.


Exactly. And in the late summer, early fall, James asks him to rule before the trial on the issues at the heart of the case. And we don't necessarily expect him to do it. But he does. He does just that. And what he rules is that the annual financial statements where the values were contained, that those are fraudulent and that they were repeatedly and persistently used in business. That's the heart of our case right there.


Wow. So long before there's a trial, this judge, who is the sole decider of this case, basically finds that the attorney general's case, her allegations are correct.


It's just a little more chaotic than that. This is just a week before the trial.


Wow. Okay. And what does that mean for the trial as it's approaching?


So it means that the issue at the heart of the trial is over. We had thought this trial is going to be about proving that fraud happened, but we already know that the judge believes that fraud happened. So now the trial is really about the consequences. This trial is going to be about the judge learning more about how the statements were valued, about how much money the trumps made from it, all to better determine whether there should be punishments and how severe they should be.


This is fascinating. This is basically a trial that Donald Trump and his children have already lost before it begins. Everything that's going to happen in this trial is just going to be a question of the degree of loss for them.


A lot of that is true. Yeah. The stakes are still crazy high for them because the punishments are still at issue, the fine, and really their future as business people, at least real estate business people.


Okay, so this, I think, brings us to the trial and to the testimony of all these trumps and a question I have had as I have watched this trial over the past couple of days, which is why would a member of the Trump family, Jonah, testify in this trial? We have all come to understand that powerful people don't take the stand. It's too risky.


Yeah, that's exactly right. And it's a great question. I think it's a question a lot of people have been asking, and it has to do with the nature of the case. This is a civil case, not a criminal case. In a criminal case, the finder of fact, be it the judge or the jury, they can't hold it against the defendant when they decline to testify. They can't assume, Oh, they'd be lying. Oh, they're scared. They're prohibited from doing that.


Right. If you take the fifth, it can't be held against you. It's your right.


In a civil case, they can make what's called negative or adverse inference. They can assume the worst when you don't testify. If you don't want to testify about this particular lawsuit, well, it may be because you're guilty of every single thing that you're accused of doing in it.


Got it. In other words, the trumps don't legally have to testify in this case. But if they don't, it's probably going to result in a terrible outcome for them. So in a way, they have to testify.


That's right. It'd almost be like forfeiting their case were they not to testify. And so this week, one by one, the Trumps arrive in the courtroom. First, Donald Trump Jr, then Eric Trump, and then former President Donald J. Trump. And their testimony is really, really revealing.


We'll be right back.


So, Johnny, walk us through this testimony, Trump by Trump.


Okay, so we start with Donald Trump Jr. And to understand his testimony, you need to understand something about the Trump organization. When Donald Trump became President, he put Donald Trump Jr. And a CFO in charge of this trust that controls his assets. It's a pretty symbolic position, but that's something that Donald Trump Jr. Was doing. He was signing things on behalf of the trust, which really means he was signing them on behalf of his father.


Right. And his father created this trust, if I'm remembering correctly, to insulate himself from the day to day operation of the Trump organization when he was President because there'd be conflicts of interest, etc.


You remember exactly correctly. That's what he did.


Okay. So how does that apply to this lawsuit?


So because he has the ceremonial role, he has his name on certain documents. And those documents, every so often will be a letter to the company's external accountants that says, Hey, these financial statements that we put together every year, they're accurate. And I'm not trying to.


Certify they're accurate. And he signs.


Those documents. He signs those documents. That means that Donald Trump Jr. Is signing documents that say, My financial statements are accurate. But as we know, the judge and the attorney general have said, No, these are filled with fraud.


Got it. So how does this testimony go? Given that he has signed these claims that something is accurate, that the judge has already determined are not accurate?


It goes pretty poorly. And this is a hallmark of the attorney general's case. She has this very strong paper case. She has a lot of documents, and those documents look bad for the defendants. And so when Donald Trump Jr. Is presented with this letter, there's not that much he can do. But he does the worst thing he could do. Which is what? He's on the stand. He's asked about this letter and with very little hesitation, he just describes it as a quote-unquote, cover your butt letter.


By which he means what exactly?


I think he meant that it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. He said in this very dismissive way like, Oh, sometimes you just sign stuff.


But of course, that's not how business or the law works.


Right. When you sign a document, you're attesting to something or you're certifying something. It has real meaning. But what's so interesting about this is that it reminded me of former President Donald Trump, where there are statements that are not meant to be taken seriously or they're meant to be taken half seriously. And he sometimes seems as if he knows what those are, and he expects you to know, too. And that's what I saw from Donald Trump Jr.


So here you're saying Donald Trump Jr. Is applying his father's philosophy, this anything goes, looseness with words approach to life. And he's applying that to his courtroom testimony, where, of course, words matter.


A lot. Right. The idea seems to be some things matter, some things don't, and I'm the one who gets to decide. And that was pretty typical of his testimony. He seemed relaxed, almost cavalry up there. He was answering questions at a mile a minute. I sometimes was just like, Why isn't this guy slowing down and thinking about what he's being asked and how it might damage him? Because it didn't really seem like he was doing that.




Was a huge contrast, by the way, to Eric Trump, who came up next.


Okay, so tell us about Eric Trump's testimony.


So Eric Trump is in some ways the opposite of his brother when he appears on the stand. He's very cautious. He doesn't seem relaxed. He seems unhappy to be there, and he doesn't mind you knowing it. And the other thing to know is that Eric Trump has a more central role at the Trump organization, and he's more involved overall in what's going on here. Just explain that.


What is.


His role? Eric Trump is an executive vice president, but he's doing all kinds of different stuff. He's doing operations. He's helping with different projects around the United States. He's really at the heart of a lot of what the Trump organization does once his father is in office. And so the attorney general has accused Eric not just of the symbolic role that Donald Trump Jr. Played, but of actually being involved in some of these valuations.


And what were some examples of that?


The most prominent example has to do with an estate called the Seven Springs Estate. This place is really fundamental to the Eric Trump mythology. He worked there. He lived there. It's this beautiful, sprawling piece of land in Westchester, which is a shmancy place north of New York City. And what he's accused of doing is just a little microcosm of what the company and the trumps are accused of doing overall, pumping up the value of this place into the hundreds of millions of dollars when there's at least one appraisal that shows that it was worth $30 million.


Wow. And what role does the attorney general allege that Eric Trump played in inflating the value of Seven Springs by that huge magnitude?


So what they're trying to show is that Eric Trump is the one behind this specific valuation, that he was the one who informed the Finance Department at the Trump Organization of this value, which LaTisha James is saying, is an inflated value.


And do they have evidence?


What we're seeing is a lot of communication between Eric Trump and a member of the Trump Organization finance department that sure makes it look as if he was involved in talking about this very subject and maybe even telling this finance department member who is literally requesting the valuation from him what the number should be. We don't have a smoking gun here. We don't have the moment he told me the valuation. I told him the valuation. That's not in evidence, but there's enough to really make it look like the attorney general's accusation that Eric Trump was involved in this valuation could be true.


And what does Eric Trump say about all of that circumstantial evidence when he gets on the stand.


He refuses to accept the logic of it. He refuses to bend to it. And as he's asked more and more about it, he clearly gets frustrated. And what he starts to say is, Look, I'm an operator. I'm a construction guy. I don't deal with these little petty financial details. That's not my role at the company.


Even if the emails suggest that, in fact, he might.


In fact, he probably did deal with these financial details.


So how does this all shake out to you watching in the courtroom?


Well, even though Eric Trump is so different in his demeanor and his affect from Donald Trump Jr, I was reminded of this exact same principle. This is not important even if I was involved with it. And if my involvement here or there, you can show it with evidence or you can suggest it with evidence. Well, ultimately, that doesn't matter.


There's a take my word. I know how this works. You clearly don't thing going on here.


Yeah, and that just doesn't necessarily help this case.


Right. So then we get to Donald Trump himself. Tell us about that testimony.


For some reason, I had thought that Donald Trump would be a little bit different on the stand than he is at a political rally in an interview because the stakes are really high. And in short, he wasn't. He was a very familiar Donald Trump. He was outraged. He was prone to giving long, nonresponsive monologs, much as he often doesn't answer to reporters. He latched out at the judge. He latched out at James, who was sitting in the courtroom. And it's not just that he's being Trump. It's that he's being Trump in such a way that's really harmful to his overall case. He's talking about how involved he was with the financial statements that he did, in fact, ask for values to be changed. He is talking about his desire for his valuations to be higher than they're generally perceived to be.


He's admitting to the very fraud, it sounds like, at the center of.


The case. Sometimes he's admitting to parts of the fraud or at least to his involvement in them. But even when he's not doing that, his need for the public to know that his properties are incredibly valuable is on display in so much of his testimony. We talked earlier about the Triple X apartment.


Right. The one where he tripled the value of the Triple X.


That's right. And so it's 10,996 feet. So at some point, Trump has asked a question, basically, how big is that apartment? And he starts out by saying it's 11,000 feet. Which is accurate. 11,000 square feet. That's accurate. But then he says, or 12,000, 13,000. He just starts going up. It was like he was doing exactly what he was accused of doing on the witness stand.


In front of the judge. He can't help aggrandizing and exaggerate this real estate portfolio.


Of his. That's what it seemed like. And it seemed as if so often he was being asked questions that infuriated him. I'll give you a good example. The judge, as we've talked about, has already ruled that these values were fraudulent. And Trump should be doing everything he can to just get away from these statements. I had nothing to do with them. I don't have an opinion about them, etc. But sometimes the attorney general's questions just seem calculated to rile him up, and he can't do that. He can't do that distancing. Kevin Wallace, the attorney general's lawyer, asks, You don't agree with the position of the office of the attorney general that the values are overstated in the financial statements. And instead of saying, I hope they weren't overstated, but I don't really have anything to do with them. Trump lashes out at James. I think she's a political hack, is what he says in response to that question. Got it. And that can show you how his anger almost trips him up. Rather than being very careful on the stand, he goes wherever it seems his Id takes him. That fury, I think, in the political setting has been useful for him, has made people feel like, This guy speaks out for me.


He's with me, etc. That's not the case here. Anger makes you lose control. It makes you overstep lines. And overstepping lines in a court case has really serious consequences.


Right. And rather than being, it sounds like you're saying, very strategic, Trump misses an opportunity to state unequivocally, I don't agree with those valuations, or those valuations might be wrong, or like you said, put some distance between them. His anger overrides what might be a strategic instinct to better serve himself as a defendant.


That's exactly right. When you see someone on the witness stand, you expect strategy. You expect to see in their conduct what their lawyers have told them about that appearance. There were so many moments on Monday where we didn't see that, where we didn't see preparation, where we didn't see strategy.


It sounds fair to say, correct me if I'm wrong, that by the end of this testimony from Eric, Donald Jr, and Donald Trump himself, that this case is not going very well for them. It wasn't going very well for them the minute they entered the courtroom, but it sounds like it's not going any better after their testimony.


It's hard to imagine that this testimony helped them. And it's very easy to imagine little bits and pieces of it showing up in the attorney general's closing. Here's where he said this. Here's where he said that. Here's Donald Trump exaggerating that triplex again on the stand. It seems to me that it was not helpful to their case, and it may have been quite harmful to it.


It feels like we learned something very important in this testimony about former President Trump as a witness. It's what you said, which is that he's heedless, cautious. I have to imagine that that is a fact that prosecutors in all the other cases in which Trump as a defendant are thinking about, they want Trump on the stand.


If I were a prosecutor and I saw what happened on Monday, I would absolutely want the former President to testify in my case.


And of course, the question for future cases is, will his lawyers advise him to behave differently? Will he listen to them? And will they now try to keep him off the stand?


It was so clear on Monday that he did not understand the pulse of the courtroom, what makes it tick? If I'm one of Trump's criminal lawyers and I see what happened on Monday and two of his criminal lawyers at least were in the courtroom, I really try hard to keep him off the stand.


Well, Jonathan, thank you very much.


Of course. Thanks so much for having me. Okay.


Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanca, is scheduled to testify today. The trial is expected to last for the next few weeks, with a final ruling possible sometime in December.


We'll be right back.


Here's what else you need to know today. Who should.


Govern Gaza when this is over?


I think.


Israel will.


For an.




Period, will have the.


Overall security responsibility.


Because we've seen what happens.


When we don't.


Have it.


In an interview on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel would play a major role in overseeing security in Gaza when its ground invasion is completed.


When we don't.


Have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of.




Terror on a.


Scale that we couldn't imagine.


The remarks immediately evokes memories of Israel's original occupation of Gaza, which began in 1967 and ended in 2005. The United States has strongly opposed such a re-occupation. But in the interview, Netanyahu who did not specify what his plan for secure in Gaza would actually look like in practice. Democratic candidates and causes won big victories on Tuesday in off-year elections held in several states. In Kentucky, the popular Democratic governor, Andy Beashear, was reelected in a deeply Republican state. In Ohio, which also leans Republican, voters approved two ballot measures. The first, enshrining abortion rights in the state's constitution. The second, legalizing marijuana. In Virginia, Democrats kept control of the state Senate and were on the verge of winning control of the House of Delegates, blocking the state's Republican governor from trying to restrict abortion. Today's episode was produced by Diana Wynn and Olivia and Nat. It was edited by Rachel Quester, with help from Brendan Klinkenberg, contains original music by Dan Powell and was engineered by Alyssa Jane Moxley. Our theme music is by Jim Runberg and Ben Landmark of Wonderly. That's it for The Daily. I'm Michael Robara, Seymour.