The defense case in Trump's fraud trial starts Monday, with Donald Trump, Jr., taking the stand – again.
The defense is expected to call Donald J. Trump and Eric Trump to testify a second time as well.
The risky strategy gives state attorneys one more chance to grill these key witnesses.
Because that all worked so well the first time.
Defense lawyers plan to call Donald Trump, Jr., as their first witness in the New York civil fraud trial on Monday, despite his prior turn on the stand being marked by apparent forgetfulness and the potential for spiraling civil penalties.
His father and Eric Trump are also on the defense witness list, and they too are expected to take second turns on the stand in the case, which seeks high cash penalties and to permanently ban the former president and his eldest sons from running a business in the state.
These encore performances by as many as three Trumps will double the fun for the state of New York, experts tell Insider.
That's because lawyers for the state attorney general's office will get to re-grill these key defendants, and — since it will be cross-examination this time, rather than direct — they can do so under markedly more advantageous rules.
"You can ratchet up the leading questions and the accusatorial tone on cross," said Kenneth Foard McCallion, a former assistant AG in New York.
"It's up to the judge," McCallion added, "but he'll give the state a lot more latitude on cross."
"I'd much rather cross a Trump than direct-examine one," agreed Tristan Snell, who was lead assistant attorney general on the state's successful investigation into Trump University.
"On cross, you can give the witness a statement, and ask, 'Isn't that correct?' And they can only answer yes, no, or I don't remember," Snell said.
"There's very little ability for the witness to deliver a monologue. The monologues will come on direct, and even then, the judge will likely cut them off," he said.
Monologues are a given, Snell predicted.
"Every time the Trumps get up there on the stand, the major goal is working the crowd with this whole martyrdom fundraising act — it's like they hold out the hat and shake it and hope people put more money in it."
But Donald Trump, especially, will also have important work to do on his return trip the witness stand, beyond speechifying about his "beautiful" real estate empire and the Democrat conspiracy he believes is after him.
The state has already won a big, pre-trial finding of fraud. The state now has to prove that Donald Trump and Trump Organization executives, including his two eldest sons, intentionally conspired to break New York record falsification and insurance fraud laws.
When back on the stand, the elder Trump and his sons will continue to minimize their hands-on involvement with the annual net-worth statements at the center of the fraud case, Snell and McCallion said
This time around, though, with six weeks of trial under their belt, the attorney general's side has a wealth of evidence and witness testimony at their disposal.
All three Trumps — Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump — have now given two pretrial depositions along with their actual trial testimony last month.
It's hard to imagine being better prepared to cross-examine a witness than the attorney general's lawyers will be in facing one, two, or possibly three Trumps in the coming days.
"It's a second bite at the apple for the AG," Snell said.
The state's attorneys are most certainly spending the weekend scouring the transcripts for all three Trumps' direct examinations earlier this month, Snell said.
"They are inevitably looking at those transcripts with fresh eyes, and inevitably thinking, 'Ah! I should have asked this follow-up question,'" Snell said. "Now, they have a second chance to ask that question."
Despite the apparent disadvantages, waiting to question their clients until now appears to have been a calculated strategy by the defense team, which chose not to cross-examine the Trump father-and-sons trio when the AG's side called them earlier this month.
The defense did cross Ivanka Trump, a former Trump Organization vice president who is no longer a defendant in the case. Now she gets to take the rest of the trial off.
Donald Trump, Jr. — and his father and brother if they, too, testify again — will be highly prepared for round two on the stand, said McCallion, who authored several books about Donald Trump, including, "Treason & Betrayal, the Rise and Fall of Individual -1."
"They'll run through a rehearsal or two beforehand," said McCallion, who is also a former federal prosecutor.
"This will all be carefully prepped," he said.
Still, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump "appear to remain stubbornly resistant to preparation and trial strategy," Snell said.
"I'm sure the lawyers will be trying to prepare them this weekend, but I'm not sure they'll be succeeding," he said. "These are the kind of clients that it would be a nightmare to prepare."
One thing is likely, predicted McCallion: it'll be two and done.
"Nobody's going to want to hear from any of the Trumps in this case a third time, especially not the public," he said.
"We're already well saturated with Trump-speak from the Trump universe."
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