“I don’t recall,” Ivanka Trump repeatedly told a New York court on Wednesday as she took the witness stand at her father’s $250m fraud trial and was quizzed about deals prosecutors claim prove the Trump Organization knowingly misled lenders.
Trump’s eldest daughter gave an orderly, calm performance after the often chaotic testimony of her father and brothers. She pointed out that she had not worked for the family firm since 2017 and said she did not recall many specific conversations but added: “I have no reason to doubt it.”
But like her father and brothers, she consistently said she did not recall details about specific transactions or conversations. “There were many emails, many conversations,” she said.
The trial is just one of a series that the Republican presidential frontrunner faces. Trump has been charged with 91 felony counts across criminal cases in New York, Florida, Washington and Georgia.
New York’s attorney general is trying to prove that the Trump family and other executives knowingly inflated Trump’s wealth in order to secure favorable loans.
In one exchange, Ivanka Trump was shown a series of emails and other documents relating to a loan from Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management division. The loan was contingent on Trump maintaining a value in excess of $3bn. Ivanka Trump negotiated to get the net worth covenant reduced to $2.5bn after a Trump lawyer expressed some concerns.
“It doesn’t get better than this,” Ivanka Trump said of the terms in 2011. “Let’s discuss asap.” That year Donald Trump would go on to claim he was worth $4.2bn. The prosecution alleges that Trump was not worth $2bn at the time.
“I don’t recall,” she said, when asked about multiple documents and emails that showed she played a key role in deals to obtain financing for the Trump Organization.
Asked about whether she understood that the financial statements at the center of the case were used to guarantee a loan to purchase the Old Post Office building in Washington DC, which became the now defunct Trump International hotel, Trump said: “I generally understand that there was a personal guarantee condition of the loan and a series of requirements that were fulfilled by the team in accordance to the terms.”
Trump’s lawyers made the case that Deutsche Bank was delighted to do business with the family and favorable loans were part of their attempts to woo them. Ivanka Trump said one of its top bankers had “expressed tremendous excitement to have our account”. Deutsche Bank severed ties with Trump in 2021 after the deadly January 6 US Capitol attack.
Last month, Ivanka Trump asked the court to remove her from the prosecution’s witness list, but the request was denied. She tried to argue that appearing in court would cause her “undue hardship” if she was to testify during the school week. The attorney general’s office had wanted Trump’s elder daughter to testify in court before the former president himself took the stand, but ultimately rescheduled her appearance because of her appeal.
Ivanka Trump was once listed as a co-defendant on the case, along with her father and two adult brothers, but an appeals court tossed out the claims against her last summer, saying that her involvement with the Trump Organization had passed the statute of limitations.
Before the trial started, Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump guilty of inflating the value of his assets on state financial statements that were used to broker deals and obtain loans. Though Trump’s team is appealing the decision, he stands to lose his state business licenses if the appellate court sides with Engoron. The actual trial is over the fine Trump will have to pay. Prosecutors are asking for at least $250m.
Ivanka Trump had served as a top executive at the Trump Organization, alongside brothers Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, until 2017, when she stepped down to assist her father at the White House. Like her siblings, she helped her father broker deals with lenders to develop properties for the company.
Brothers Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump testified last week, distancing themselves from the financial statements at the center of the case despite multiple documents showing they affirmed the statements’ financial representations and were, at times, consulted for the statements.
Trump has not been present in the court for any of his children’s testimony. Ahead of his daughter’s appearance he once again lambasted the judge and the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who brought the case against him, calling James, who is Black, “Corrupt and Racist,” on Truth Social, his social media site.
Ivanka Trump has moved to distance herself from the family business since her father’s election defeat. In April, she engaged her own lawyers in the New York case.
Trump’s elder daughter has also broken from the family’s line in previous testimony. In 2022 she told investigators looking into the January 6 Capitol insurrection that she did not believe the election was stolen, contrary to her father’s furious insistence.