"Combative" Eric Trump lost his "temper and raised his voice" during questioning on fraud

Ex-U.S. attorney warns that Eric Trump's performance was "very bad form and comes off as defensive"

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published November 3, 2023 12:35PM (EDT)

Eric Trump, executive vice president of Trump Organization Inc., center, during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Eric Trump, executive vice president of Trump Organization Inc., center, during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A state attorney's question to Eric Trump in the Trump Organization's ongoing fraud trial prompted the former president's son to throw up his hands in annoyance, according to reporters in the courtroom Thursday, per Mediaite.

Trump is an executive at the company, which, along with him, his father, his brother and other executives, is the defendant in a multi-million dollar civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. In September, just ahead of the trial's start, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled in a partial summary judgment that the company had defrauded lenders and insurance companies to obtain better deals by drastically overvaluing their assets on statements of financial condition.

In addition to seeking $250 million in damages, James is also pursuing the suspension of the Trumps' ability to do business in the state. Though Engoron has granted that request, the ruling has been stayed pending appeal.

Eric Trump testified on Thursday after the state called him as a witness. During an exchange with state attorney Andrew Amer, Trump appeared "outraged."

“Eric Trump ventured a long explanation about why he did not agree with a complex point that Andrew Amer, the state lawyer, was trying to press,” The New York Times reported. “When he stopped, Amer asked him, ‘Are you done?’ Trump briefly appeared outraged. ‘He meant that seriously,’ the judge explained. The lawyer said he had not wanted to interrupt Trump.”

The New York Post reported that Trump “threw his hands in the air, appearing dumbfounded,” further stating that Engoron told Trump Amer did not intend his question as a jab. 

The testimony of Trump's older brother, Donald Trump Jr. ended earlier in the day Thursday. His sister and former Trump Organization executive Ivanka Trump is slated to take the witness stand

MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin detailed the differences between the brothers' testimonies, according to RawStory, noting the contrast between both men's questioning.

"It was sort of the tale of two brothers," she told host Chris Jansing, "because we think of Don Jr. and Eric as a pair, but really both temperamentally and otherwise, they could not be more different in their approaches to testimony today."

She pointed to Jansing's observation that Donald Trump Jr. deflected, denied responsibility and shifted blame to the accountants and lawyers who guided him, highlighting how the former president's eldest son has been "used to outsourcing things to other people" throughout his life.

"But the problem is, as an officer of the company and particularly as a trustee of his father's trust, there has to be a place where the buck stopped, and when his father was president, the buck stopped with he and Allen Weisselberg as the co co-trustees of the trust in which all the Trump Organization assets were put," Rubin said, adding that his direct examination by the state was "relatively pleasant and easy."

"Eric on the other hand, when he took the stand, has been combative from the start," she continued. "He doesn't want to give an inch. He didn't even want to admit that in 2012 he understood his father even had statements of financial condition."

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Rubin went to explain that the attorney general is trying to establish that the younger brother understood that provided financial statements to other people outside the company who relied on them, whether it be banks or the members of a North Carolina golf club that the Trumps purchased in 2012.

"When Eric was about to get off the stand, he finally showed a flash of Trumpian anger and basically said, 'Of course we have financial statements, we're a major corporation!'" Rubin said. "But he's been generally calm and collected if not particularly generous in his testimony so far."

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Other legal experts also criticized Trump's behavior during his testimony online, noting that his demeanor doesn't help his case.

"Eric loses his temper and raised his voice in questioning about his knowledge of TO's financial statements," former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "Very bad form and comes off as defensive, though would be a bigger deal in a jury trial."

"If I were the judge, I’d make a credibility finding that specifically notes his demeanor," conservative attorney George Conway added. "No appellate court would reverse a factual finding here that the defendants are liars."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Aggregate Arthur Engoron Donald Trump Eric Trump Letitia James Politics