In the civil fraud trial involving Donald Trump, both the lawyers representing him and the New York attorney general’s office urged the judge not to postpone his ruling despite the recent reports of possible perjury by a witness during the testimony.
Government lawyers working on the civil case stated that they were not aware of any plea negotiations between Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer of Donald Trump, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office. This information was reported by The New York Times.
Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel for the attorney general’s office, stated that they are currently not engaged in any negotiations and are unaware of the specific trial testimony that may be the subject of the plea negotiations or whether Mr. Weisselberg has admitted to testifying falsely.
Trump’s lawyers implored the judge to dismiss the “speculative” report concerning Weisselberg.
According to one of Trump’s lawyers, Clifford Robert, the article lacks a principled basis for the court to revisit the record or doubt the truthfulness of Mr. Weisselberg’s testimony in this case. Robert argues that the court’s request for input on this speculative media account is unprecedented, inappropriate, and concerning.
Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron is currently assessing the damages in the fraud case and has acknowledged that Weisselberg’s credibility may impact his final decision. New York Attorney General Letitia James has requested a sum of $370 million and has also called for a suspension of Trump’s business activities within the state.
During the Monday session, Engoron inquired with the lawyers about their knowledge regarding potential plea negotiations.
Judge Engoron, who serves as the presiding magistrate, trier of fact, and judge of credibility, expressed his interest in Mr. Weisselberg’s apparent change in stance. He questioned whether Weisselberg is now admitting to having lied under oath during the trial in his courtroom. Engoron emphasized the importance of not overlooking any details in such a significant case.
Engoron plans to finalize his decision by mid-February.
Government lawyers have also made the argument to Engoron that the possibility of criminal action against Weisselberg should not hinder the judge’s decision in the case. They contend that there is already sufficient evidence during the trial that demonstrates Weisselberg’s lack of credibility as a witness.
According to Wallace, it is not surprising that a defendant who lacks credibility and has a history of falsifying business documents may have committed perjury in this proceeding or the previous investigation. If these allegations are true, the defendant should be fully held accountable for his actions. However, Wallace emphasizes that these allegations should not delay the final decision and judgment regarding the imposition of remedial measures in this law enforcement proceeding.
According to Trump’s lawyers, this case is closed after over three years of investigation, the collection of millions of pages of documents, and a three-month trial.
Weisselberg has already spent 100 days in jail last year for evading taxes on $1.7 million in compensation from the Trump Organization. Currently, he is still on probation.
During the trial, Weisselberg provided testimony regarding the former president’s false claim that his apartment in Trump Tower was three times larger than its actual size, leading to an overstatement of its value by $200 million. However, government lawyers were able to present documents that contradicted Weisselberg’s alleged lack of involvement in determining the property’s value.
In October, Weisselberg testified and a Forbes magazine article later claimed that he had lied about his involvement in determining the value. The article pointed out that his previous interviews with the magazine contradicted his testimony.
According to Engoron, discounting all of Weisselberg’s testimony could be a possible consequence if he were to commit perjury. Engoron also noted that while the news article highlighted Trump’s penthouse, it’s important to consider that Weisselberg’s testimony on other topics could also be subject to scrutiny.
Weisselberg’s testimony could have benefited Trump, particularly when he discussed the disagreements over the value of the office and retail complex at 40 Wall St. in Manhattan. Disregarding this testimony may have negative consequences for Trump, potentially resulting in higher damages.
Lawyers representing both sides in the Donald Trump fraud case are urging the judge to disregard any reported perjury inquiry. They are arguing that such an inquiry is irrelevant to the case at hand and should not be a factor in the court’s decision-making process. Both sides are confident in their positions and believe that the evidence presented in the case will speak for itself. The focus should be on the merits of the case, not on any potential perjury investigation.