Is this any way to run a family business?

Family businesses tend to keep tight control of the enterprise and have members of the family occupy key positions and make all the major decisions.

But not the Trump family business. If you take the testimony of the patriarch, his two sons, and daughter at the fraud trial in New York City at face value, it seemed like none of them knew what was actually going on even though they occupied key positions. They claimed ignorance of major decisions, or said “I don’t recall” to key events, implying that all they did was sign documents that underlings put before them without really knowing what was in them, let alone doing the minimum due diligence to make sure that what they were attesting to was correct. Legal experts explain the “I don’t recall” strategy.

This is of course their strategy, to imply that they could not have committed fraud if they did not have the intent to commit fraud, and that they were misled by others. It is similar to the defense strategy that Sam Bankman-Fried put forward in the FTX cryptocurrency fraud trial and which the jury overwhelmingly rejected.

The defense will begin putting forward its case today. Let’s see how far they are going with that strategy. This case is not before a jury but a judge who had already ruled against the company, that they had falsified the valuations of its various components. How long the defense lasts will depend on the number of witnesses they put on the stand. Given their strategy of delaying things as much as possible, expect to see them ask to put forward many witnesses, however little they may actually contribute to the facts of the case.


  1. ardipithecus says

    127 witnesses available for the defense, though the judge will not permit testimony that contradicts the summary judgement. I don’t have enough popcorn.

  2. JM says

    The incompetence defense is partially to deflect a criminal prosecution from happening after this case is resolved. This case is civil and the penalties are largely limited to how much in back taxes and penalties the state is owed. However, there is nothing stopping NY from opening a criminal case after the civil case is done. What the Trump family members say on the stand has to take that in to account. Since the company has already been found to have violated the tax laws the options to argue that in a criminal case would be limited to non-existant. They can claim they didn’t know what was going on in this case and carry that forward to a criminal case.

  3. JM says

    @1 ardipithecus: The list is a stalling tactic. It’s 127 + any prosecution witness that isn’t already listed so it’s actually probably a bit more. Drag out the testimony for each for a day or so, plus time lost scheduling all of this ahead of time plus other delays and the whole case gets dragged through 2024. Trump and his lawyers don’t much care if any witness really helps their case as long as they have something to say that is related enough the judge doesn’t throw them out.
    Insuring all of the cases against him are not resolved until after the election is one of Trump’s primary goals. He thinks he wins the nomination and election and then sweeps all of this under the rug.

  4. John Morales says

    Yes, it is indeed a way to run a family business.

    (Donald has been running it since 1971 — over half a century)

  5. Holms says

    This isn’t how they run the business, it’s how they deal with questions under oath. Just hedge the truth where possible, and claim no memory whenever you think an honest answer would damn you. Plentiful testimony from other people drastically more believable than any Trump assert the family members are well and truly in charge and made the decisions that they did knowingly.

  6. Dunc says

    If you take the testimony of the patriarch, his two sons, and daughter at the fraud trial in New York City at face value…

    … then you’re a fucking idiot.

  7. SailorStar says

    Two things can be true:

    1) that the Trump family lies under oath like other people breathe
    2) they really had no idea/very little idea what was being done in the company so long as they were getting their fat paychecks from it

    I’ve worked for several small, family-run (not my family) businesses in my working life, and decided Never Again because of the outright sloth, financial fraud, and abuse of the real, working employees.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    Raging Bee: with the greatest of respect -- I didn’t ask you. I ask SailorStar, who appears unable to process the idea that a man could vehemently dislike a female politician for a reason other than her gender. ANY criticism, regardless of how justified, of their behaviour or politics is MISOGYNY and cannot be anything else.

    Or I may be wrong, but they appear unable or unwilling to provide an answer in the desperately simple terms you found easy -- so, y’know, thanks for demonstrating it’s possible.

  9. SailorStar says

    @RagingBee: to quote Edward Gibbons, “I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.” Or, simpler, “Don’t feed the trolls--it goes straight to their thighs.”

  10. Holms says

    A single-word reply, ‘no’, would have ended the argument. Instead, you decided to to reply… with a snide non-answer.

    Which of you is the troll?

  11. sonofrojblake says

    @11 -- thank you. You have helpfully demonstrated the quality of your argument and your faith in its correctness. Good work.

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