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Ivanka Testifies That She Has a Bad Memory

Ivanka Trump testified in Dad's civil trial yesterday. It was tough for her because the lawyers for the New York AG's office kept asking questions about Donald Trump's habit of faking the values of his properties and she has an awful memory. She couldn't remember much about them. Heck, she can barely remember how many kids she has or how to cook spaghetti. How she performed her duties as executive vice president of the Trump organization from 2011 to 2017 is unknown. Maybe she wrote notes on index cards to cue herself.

Some of the motivation for Trump to inflate the values of his properties came out at the trial. Trump sometimes personally guaranteed loans, meaning if the property went bankrupt, Trump would have to repay the loan out of his own personal funds. As a consequence, the banks had a great deal of interest in Trump's personal net worth. At the trial, Ivanka was shown a 2011 e-mail in which she acknowledged that a requirement from Deutsche Bank that Dad maintain a net worth of at least $3 billion was a problem. Eventually the net-worth requirement was set at $2.5 billion.

She was also shown another 2011 e-mail from the federal government expressing concern about his financial statements concerning his redevelopment of the Old Post Office into a hotel. Other evidence showed that she made $4 million on that deal. Unfortunately, she couldn't remember anything about it. She said: "There were many e-mails, many conversations." We certainly hope for Ivanka's sake that she is not suffering from cognitive decline. At one point she thanked one of the prosecutors for bringing up the subject of the Old Post Office because it brought back so many pleasant memories of the project, just not about the financing.

Unlike her brothers and her father, Ivanka was poised and calm on the stand. At one point, defense lawyer Jesus Suarez asked her what the federal government's reaction was to the redevelopment of the Old Post Office into a hotel. She said: "I can't speak for the entire federal government." Judge Arthur Engoron laughed at that. She is so much smoother than her brothers, you might wonder if they grew up in the same family. However, she did admit that the valuations of Dad's properties were not always accurate (but that wasn't her fault, of course). She didn't mention that the hotel never turned a profit and that Dad lost over $74 million running it. She probably forgot.

In the end, Ivanka didn't intentionally throw her father under the bus as her cousin, Mary Trump, had predicted. She was entirely focused on covering her well-clad rear end. The only thing she said that may end up being important is explaining why Dad was so concerned about inflating the value of his properties: The banks insisted on a certain level of net worth to allow him to cover the loan should the property fail. That provides a concrete motive for Trump's lying besides the PR value of telling everyone how rich he was. When a judge sees the facts in a crime, he or she always looks for the motive. Now Engoron has that. In the end, Ivanka may have actually damaged her father quite a bit, albeit entirely by accident.

With Ivanka's testimony now over, an important phase of the trial is finished. The prosecution has no more witnesses. Today, the defense is expected to make a motion to decide the case immediately in their favor. Engoron is expected to reject it. Court will be closed on Friday for Veterans Day. Monday, the defense will start bringing its witnesses. Trump has said he wants to put 127 witnesses on the stand. This puts the judge on the spot. If he allows them all, the trial will go on for weeks and weeks, maybe months and months. If he rejects most of them as irrelevant, Trump will appeal on the basis of "the judge didn't allow my witnesses to testify."

Of course this could backfire. The judge could allow them and the prosecution could turn them into witnesses for the prosecution. Maybe Trump has coached somebody from Deutsche Bank to say: "We never pay any attention to valuations loan customers give." Then the prosecutor says: "I think you should be aware that the transcript of this trial will be public and anyone who wants to can see it and possibly use it in a subsequent lawsuit. Now, does the bank demand and expect that customer valuations of property be accurate and reflect true market value?" If the bank manager now says: "We don't care what people put on the form," he is inviting all customers to lie on their forms going forward. He's not going to do that. (V)

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