Ivanka Trump takes witness stand in the civil fraud trial that's scrutinizing the family business

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NEW YORK (AP) — Ivanka Trump began testifying Wednesday in the the civil fraud trial that is publicly probing the Trump family business, making an appearance she tried to prevent.

Ex-President Donald Trump’s elder daughter, who has been in his inner circle in both business and politics, rounds out a major stretch in the trial. Her father gave caustic testimony on Monday, and her brothers Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. testified last week.

Even-tempered in her testimony, unlike her father, Ivanka Trump answered questions about her former role in the family’s Trump Organization. Among other things, she was the point person in establishing a lending relationship with Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management arm, which eventually extended the company hundreds of millions of dollars in loans.

She testified that her husband, Jared Kushner, introduced her to a banker as the Trumps were seeking financing to buy and overhaul the Doral golf resort near Miami.

“I was excited,” she testified, to show the banker “an opportunity that we were very passionate about. … The reason we bought the property was because we believed in its potential to be something better than it was.”

Unlike her father and brothers, Ivanka Trump is no longer a defendant in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit. It alleges that Donald Trump’s asset values were fraudulently pumped up for years on financial statements that helped him get loans and insurance.

The non-jury trial will decide allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records — but Judge Arthur Engoron already has resolved the lawsuit’s top claim by ruling that Trump engaged in fraud. That decision came with provisions that could strip the ex-president of oversight of such marquee properties as Trump Tower, though an appeals court is allowing him continued control of his holdings, at least for now.

James, a Democrat, is seeking over $300 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

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

Ivanka Trump was an executive vice president at the Trump Organization before becoming an unpaid senior adviser in her father’s White House. Like her brothers, who are still Trump Organization EVPs, she has professed minimal knowledge of their father’s annual financial statements.

“I don’t, specifically, know what was prepared on his behalf for him as a person, separate and distinct from the organization and the properties that I was working on,” she said during sworn questioning for the investigation that eventually led to the lawsuit. She said she didn’t know who prepared the statements or how the documents were compiled.

As a Trump Organization executive, Ivanka Trump dealt with securing a loan and a lease for a Washington hotel and financing for Doral in Florida and a hotel and condo skyscraper in Chicago, according to court filings.

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

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

Her attorneys contended that she shouldn’t have to testify. They said the state was just trying to harass the family by dragging her into court.

The attorney general’s office argued that her testimony would be relevant, saying she was involved in some events discussed in the case and remains financially and professionally entwined with the Trump Organization and its leaders. The company has bought insurance for her and her businesses, managed her household staff and credit card bills, rented out her apartment and paid her legal fees, according to the state’s court papers.

Engoron and, later, an appeals court ruled that she had to testify.

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