Trump legal news brief: At fraud trial, Donald Trump Jr. calls his father ‘an artist with real estate’

Former President Donald Trump’s eldest sons seek to portray their father and his company in glowing terms as the financial fraud trial resumes in New York City. In Florida, federal Judge Aileen Cannon rejects a motion by Trump’s lawyers to postpone the start of the classified documents trial until after the 2024 election but says she will revisit that decision in March.

New York financial fraud

Donald Trump Jr. returns to witness stand, while Eric Trump plays to the court of public opinion

Key players: Trump Organization executive vice presidents Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James

  • Trump Jr. returned to court Monday as a witness for the defense in the $250 million civil lawsuit bought by James, testifying about the history of the Trump Org. and calling his father “an artist,” CBS News reported.

  • He’s an artist with real estate,” Trump Jr. said of his father, adding, “That is his canvas that he creates. He is a creative guy, and he’s also good at building.”

  • Engoron has already sided with arguments made by James, finding Trump, his eldest sons and their family business liable for years of financial fraud in New York. The trial will, in part, decide penalties for the defendants.

  • Eric Trump also used art as a metaphor to describe his family business, Huffpost reported.

  • “Our assets are worth a fortune. They’re the Mona Lisas of the real estate world,” he said during an interview with Fox News on Sunday over the weekend.

Why it matters: Trump’s sons, who are defendants in the case, continue to try to shine the best possible light on their business practices. Engoron’s ruling in the case could cost them millions of dollars and prevent them from conducting business in New York, however.

Classified documents

Judge refuses to delay start of trial, but will revisit question in March

Key players: Judge Aileen Cannon, special counsel Jack Smith, Trump lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche

  • Cannon on Friday denied a motion by Trump’s lawyers to delay the start of the classified documents trial until after the 2024 presidential election, but said she would revisit the request in March, The Palm Beach Post reported.

  • Trump has been charged with violating the Espionage Act, among other crimes, by illegally retaining classified documents after leaving office and thwarting the government’s attempts to recover them.

  • The trial is scheduled to begin on May 20.

  • Trump’s lawyers had argued they needed more time to review 1.3 million documents and hundreds of hours of surveillance video footage shot at Mar-a-Lago that was given to them by Smith’s team.

  • Smith argues that Trump has not established “good cause” for his many requests to delay the start of the trial.

Why it matters: While Cannon’s ruling represents a victory for Smith, the judge has also signaled her sympathy toward the arguments put forward by Trump’s lawyers and could change her mind in March.

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