In a sworn deposition from this past April, former President Donald Trump told New York officials that he was too busy “saving millions of lives” as president to run his company, let alone commit business fraud, a transcript released Wednesday revealed.
“So you were too busy for the company?” Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia James, asked early in the seven-hour deposition, referring to the years since 2015 when Trump first ran for president.
“In a way, yeah,” Trump responded.
“Yeah, I think you can say it. It’s another way of saying it. I was very busy. I was — I considered this the most important job in the world, saving millions of lives,” Trump added.
“I think you would have nuclear holocaust if I didn’t deal with North Korea. I think you would have a nuclear war, if I weren’t elected,” Trump said of his four years in office.
“And I think you might have a nuclear war now if you want to know the truth,” he continued.
Trump made these assertions while distancing himself from the state attorney general’s claims that over the past decade, his New York-based real estate company, the Trump Organization, routinely misstated the value of its assets to save money on bank loans, insurance, and taxes.
Since at least 2011, the company inflated the worth of its assets by anywhere from $800 million to $2 billion in a single year, the attorney general’s office alleged on Wednesday.
According to the newly-released transcript, Trump swore to the AG’s office in his April deposition that he’s had “virtually” no role in his company since his first run for president in 2015.
“My son Eric is much more involved with it than I am,” Trump testified.
“I’ve been doing other things. And I guess you could say on something major, whatever. But I’ve been much less involved in it than — over the last five years, five or six years than ever before.”
In his own deposition, taken in March, Eric Trump agreed that his father stepped away years ago from the day-to-day operations of the company, according to a transcript also made public Wednesday.
During the Trump administration, Donald Trump’s assets within the Trump Organization were transferred to a trust controlled by Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, the company’s chief financial officer at the time. The elder Trump was “focused on doing something much larger than the Trump Organization” at the time, Eric Trump said in his deposition.
Since leaving the presidency in January 2021, Trump has been technically “at the top of the pyramid” but has only involved himself in passion projects within the Trump Organization, Eric Trump said.
“Is he involved in the, you know, in the day-to-day operations of the organization? He might be involved in something that he cares about,” Eric Trump said.
The former president has been particularly interested in the greenery on his golf courses, Eric Trump testified. Otherwise, he has left his two eldest sons and other executives to run the company, Eric Trump said.
“Maybe he’s at one of the golf courses and he wants to redesign a green or something like that because he’s golf fanatic and loves it,” Eric Trump said in the deposition. “But for all intents and purposes, no, he’s not sitting in that position and he largely relies on Don and I and other executives to run a nice business.”
Weisselberg, as well as the Trump Organization, were convicted in a criminal case over a payroll tax-fraud scheme last year. Weisselberg is no longer a trustee at the company, Eric Trump said in the deposition.
Both Trumps’ transcripts were released Wednesday as part of the ongoing civil fraud lawsuit between New York and the former president. Trump was sued last year along with his company, his two eldest sons, and two of his former top executives.
James is asking for what is called a “summary judgment,” through which a judge would grant early — in advance of a scheduled October 2 trial — some of the penalties she is seeking against team Trump.
James has argued that Trump Org’s financial filings have been so pervasively fictional that Trump, and his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., should be permanently barred from running a New York corporation, among other demanded remedies.
Wednesday’s summary judgment request adds some new numerical detail to her lawsuit’s allegations. In it, she argues that the Trump Organization’s annual financial filings reduced his actual net worth by anywhere from 17% to 39%.
The total value of the company’s assets was off by anywhere from $812 million to $2.2 billion in a single year, she argued.
Lawyers for the Trump defendants will have the chance to rebut the attorney general’s summary judgment request in response papers and in oral arguments scheduled for September 22. They have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Trump took a shot at President Biden early on in his deposition, the transcript shows.
“If you look at Biden, he certainly does business and politics at the same time. But I felt I wanted to be a legitimate President,” and not mix business and politics, he said.
“I was virtually not involved at all” with the company from 2015 on, Trump told the attorney general’s office.
“I’d rarely have anything to do with anything having to do with the company,” he said,
“I wasn’t — I really wasn’t interested, believe it or not,” Trump said of running his company since 2015.
“I was interested in solving the problem with North Korea, which was ready to blow up, and solving the problems we had with China, who was just ripping us off left and right, and making sure that Russia never went into Ukraine, which they didn’t, under our auspices and, you know, a lot of other things. There were a lot of things that were happening in the world, as you probably know.
“And I did a very good job. I got rid of those problems. Today those problems are very prevalent.”
Trump reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.