Ivanka Trump said she could not remember property deals she handled at her father’s firm, as she testified in a civil fraud case that threatens his business empire.
A judge has already found Donald Trump and two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr, liable for fraud, ruling they inflated assets to secure favourable loans.
Ivanka Trump, 42, was initially a co-defendant, too, until an appeals court ruling in her favour this year.
She struggled mightily not to testify.
The mother-of-three had maintained that she was unable to send her kids away from Florida for a week of classes.
However, an appeals court and a judge in New York decided she had to testify as a witness.
The court will make a decision about accusations of insurance fraud, conspiracy, and business record falsification in this non-jury trial.
Valued possessions like Trump Tower may be taken away from the former US president and Republican nominee for president in the upcoming presidential election, Mr. Trump. He denies guilt, as do his sons.
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, whose office initiated the complaint, is requesting severe limitations on the Trump business’s operations in the state as well as fines of $250 million (£204 million).
During four hours of testimony in the New York Supreme Court in lower Manhattan on Wednesday, Ms Trump spoke softly into the microphone, sitting upright with her hands in her lap, at times smiling brightly.
In composed and succinct responses, she repeatedly said she did not recall specifics, or was not aware.
Like her two brothers in their testimony last week, Ms Trump distanced herself from documents central to the case – her father’s financial statements, in which assets were allegedly inflated to secure better loan deals.
“I wasn’t involved in his statement of financial condition,” Ms Trump said. “That would have been the company.”
Attorneys for the state attorney general’s office presented Ms. Trump a series of ostensibly supporting emails, much as they did with her brothers, and inquired as to whether or not she recognised the correspondence.
They questioned her about her involvement in getting loans from Deutsche Bank for the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, the Trump National Doral Miami, and the Old Post Office in Washington, DC.
State attorneys once provided an email she sent regarding a loan to Allen Weisselberg, the then-chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation.
“It doesn’t get better than this,” she wrote.
She said she did not remember that message.
Her responses frustrated Louis Solomon, the state lawyer questioning her.
“She just spent three minutes describing the plaza hotel,” he shouted, “but she has no recollection when I ask her a question.
For the first time in this trial, defence attorneys questioned a member of the Trump family when they started cross-examining Ms. Trump in the afternoon.
She responded to all of their pointed queries concerning her involvement with the company’s financial statements by saying that she had none at all.
Additionally, the defence team tried to show that the Trumps and Deutsche Bank, their lender, got along well.
The Trump legal team has previously maintained that banks had no problems doing business with the family and were glad to do so.
Toward the end of the day, tensions began to flare as Judge Engoron argued the defence was wasting time, calling one Trump attorney Jesus Saurez’s questions “ridiculous”. Mr Suarez lost his temper after hearing the attorney general’s team laugh at his questions from the bench behind him. The Trumps’ legal team argued once again that the judge was biased for siding with prosecutors’ objections to Mr Suarez’s questioning. “Your constant insinuations that I have some sort of double standard…it’s just not true,” Mr Engoron said in response.
However, Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told the BBC that Ms. Trump’s evidence was far less aggressive than her father’s Monday speech.
And her evidence could ultimately aid the former president, said Prof Tobias
“The attorney general’s counsel was able to introduce some documents that appeared helpful to their case,” he said.
“But counsel did not seem to elicit much information from Ms Trump’s testimony that was very damaging to Mr Trump.”
On the steps of the courthouse on Wednesday morning, the attorney general of New York stated that Ivanka Trump was “very much involved” in the family business.
She worked with her brothers Donald Jr. and Eric as a top executive at the Trump Organisation from 2011 to 2017.
State solicitors claim that she was instrumental in the real estate transactions and loans at the centre of the case in her capacity as head of development and acquisitions.
Because the loans required a personal guarantee from Mr. Trump along with proof of his liquidity and net worth, the interest rates were modest.
The state attorneys contend that Mr. Trump saved over $100 million on those loans because of his yearly financial statements.
Mr. Trump has defended his children on Truth Social multiple times on social media.
He claimed that his “wonderful and beautiful daughter” was being unfairly drawn into the issue just hours before Ms. Trump’s testimony.
It is anticipated that the trial would last until mid-December.