Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Trump Org CFO May Have Committed A Wee Spot Of Perjury, Ooopsie! – Above the Law

Trump Organization CFO Weisselberg Expected To Face Tax-Related Charges

(Photo by Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images)

At this point, Allen Weisselberg is functionally a meme. The Trump Organization’s longtime CFO is perpetually just about to flip on Trump and give prosecutors the goods. This time for real!

Way back in 2018, journalist Adam Davidson wrote the seminal Weisselberg piece at The New Yorker, after it was first reported that Trump’s longtime accountant and now-former CFO had agreed to become a cooperating witness. Since then, every journalist on the Trump beat has written at least three stories reporting that Weisselberg flipped. For Robert Mueller! For Alvin Bragg! For Tish James!

Weisselberg never flipped.

Even when he was indicted for conspiring with the Trump Organization to pay himself in pre-tax perks — i.e. stiffing Uncle Sam and the New York revenue authorities — he dutifully marched off to Rikers for 100 days rather than give up his boss.

Weisselberg’s testimony in the civil fraud trial was patently false, particularly with respect to the size of Trump’s penthouse apartment in New York. For years Trump claimed it was three times its actual size, assigning it fantastical valuations into the hundreds of millions of dollars. And yet, on the witness stand in October, Weisselberg claimed that he “never focused on the apartment,”  dismissing it as “a de minimis asset of the overall of Donald J. Trump’s statement of financial condition.”

But Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander, who was sitting in the courtroom that day, knew for a fact that Weisselberg was lying. Because Trump didn’t just bullshit lenders and tax authorities about the value of assets. He also dispatched Weisselberg to flog his fictional spreadsheets to Forbes Magazine to boost his ranking on the annual Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans.

Two days later, Alexander called Weisselberg out on his bullshit, stating plainly that the accountant “lied in sworn testimony.” And he brought the receipts.

A review of old emails and notes, some of which the attorney general’s office does not possess, show that Weisselberg absolutely thought about Trump’s apartment—and played a key role in trying to convince Forbes over the course of several years that it was worth more than it really was. Given the fact that these discussions continued for years, and that Weisselberg took a very detailed approach in reviewing Trump’s assets with Forbes, it defies all logic to think he truly believes what he is now saying in court.

It was a good story, and Weisselberg quit testifying after it dropped. But an untruthful witness who lies at a Trump trial is hardly a bleeding leader — Michael Cohen and even Trump himself both appeared to testify untruthfully during this proceeding. So no one much thought about it for three months until the New York Times reported last week that Weisselberg was negotiating a deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to plead guilty to perjury in the civil fraud trial.

Finally, he …

The deal being negotiated would most likely not require Mr. Weisselberg, 76, to turn on his former boss.

DAMMIT.

But apparently New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron also reads the Times, and he was pretty interested to discover that one of his witnesses might have committed perjury in his courtroom.

As the presiding magistrate, the trier of fact, and the judge of credibility, I of course want to know whether Mr. Weisselberg is now changing his tune, and whether he is admitting he lied under oath in my courtroom at this trial. Although the Times article focuses on the size of the Trump Tower Penthouse, his testimony on other topics could also be called into question. I also may use this as a basis to invoke falsus in uno.

And in case it’s been a while since law school, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is Latin for “your witness is a liar, and the court’s going to write off everything he said.”

Noting that he didn’t want to “ignore anything in a case of this magnitude,” the judge instructed the parties to get back to him ASAP and advise him how he should proceed.

The Trumpland lawyers took markedly different positions in their responses.

Alina Habba, who represented Weisselberg and also the Trump Organization in the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, does not represent him in the criminal matter. Nevertheless, she claimed to have “conferred with my ethics counsel,” [cough], and been “advised that I am constrained by my professional ethical obligations from providing any further detail.”

“As for how Your Honor should address this matter, no further action is necessary or appropriate,” she went on. “Matters outside the record such as outside media sources cannot influence the Court’s perception of this case or taint its view as to whether Mr. Weisselberg is a credible witness.”

Cliff Robert, who represented Trump personally, took a more indignant tone.

“We respectfully submit that the Court’s request for comment on this speculative media account is unprecedented, inappropriate and troubling,” he began, adding that “the Court lacks the legal authority under New York law to take judicial notice of news stories.”

This was perhaps an ironic posture for an attorney who spent a year pointing to news stories about AG James as evidence of prosecutorial bias. But at any rate, the court was not taking judicial notice of anything — it simply asked for comment and suggestions.

The AG’s office, which is awaiting Justice Engoron’s ruling on the requested $370 million civil fine, mostly demurred.

“OAG does not, however, believe that this development should result in any delay of a final decision,” Senior Enforcement Counsel Kevin Wallace wrote, noting that delaying judgment in the civil case would provide a perverse incentive for Weisselberg to drag out plea negotiations and/or take his case to trial.

“If additional sanctions are necessary to address any potential perjury, the Court can retain jurisdiction to address those issues,” Wallace wrote, adding that it was “hardly surprising” that “a defendant who lacks credibility and has already been to prison for falsifying business documents may have also perjured himself in this proceeding.”

As of this writing, the court has not responded. We can only assume this is because Weisselberg has finally come clean and given up his boss once and for all.

JK, LOL.

Trump’s Longtime CFO Lied, Under Oath, About Trump Tower Penthouse [Forbes]


Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she produces the Law and Chaos substack and podcast.

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Amit Ghosh
Amit Ghoshhttps://serpways.com
MYSELF AMIT GOSH. I AM A PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER AND RESEARCHER.
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