Key Witness Links Trump Directly to Alleged Financial Misconduct in Ongoing New York Trial

Donald Trump at a campaign event in Ohio, left. Key evidence in his NY fraud trial, right.

In a notable development in the ongoing civil fraud trial involving former President Donald Trump in New York, a key witness, Jeffrey McConney, formerly of the Trump Organization, provided testimony that directly implicated Trump in the alleged financial irregularities central to the case. McConney, who previously served as the organization’s comptroller and was responsible for managing financial spreadsheets, was initially called to the stand by the defense. However, during a cross-examination by the state attorney general’s office on Tuesday, he connected Trump to the accusations of conspiracy and fraud, decisions on which are pending in this non-jury trial.

The pivotal moment occurred when McConney was presented with People’s Exhibit 3054, a draft of Trump’s 2014 net-worth statement. The document included McConney’s handwritten note stating “DJT TO GET FINAL REVIEW.” This notation, written in blue ink, became a critical piece of evidence as McConney confirmed that it was indeed his handwriting and that it was his understanding that Trump would review each annual net-worth statement until 2017, after which the responsibility shifted to Eric Trump.

Trump has consistently denied any involvement in the preparation of these net-worth statements, which spanned a decade. New York Attorney General Letitia James, along with the trial judge, has alleged that these statements were consistently inflated by billions of dollars annually. The 2014 statement in question, for instance, is alleged to have contained exaggerations amounting to $3.5 billion.

This testimony from McConney not only implicates Trump but also extends potential liability to his two eldest sons and former executives of the Trump Organization, including former CFO Allen Weisselberg. All five are defendants in the attorney general’s lawsuit, which accuses them of using exaggerated net-worth statements to secure favorable interest rates and profits from property sales. The lawsuit seeks penalties of at least $250 million and aims to prohibit the defendants from managing businesses in New York in the future.

McConney’s testimony contrasted sharply with his previous statements, where he outlined a review process involving himself, Weisselberg, and the external accounting firm Mazars USA. His admission of Trump’s direct involvement in the review process contradicted his earlier assertions and challenged the defense’s strategy of attributing responsibility to the accountants.

The significance of McConney’s handwritten notes is manifold. They not only demonstrate his direct involvement in the drafting process but also suggest that the final approval and possible alterations were made by Trump and top executives. These notes are particularly damaging to the defense’s narrative and could support the attorney general’s argument of intentional conspiracy and manipulation of financial figures by the defendants.

Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York Supreme Court had previously determined, in a pretrial finding, that Trump’s statements from 2014 through 2021 fraudulently inflated his wealth. The trial aims to ascertain if the defendants also violated six specific state laws, including falsifying business records, filing false financial statements, and insurance fraud, all of which require proof of intentional misconduct.

As the trial is civil, not criminal, the outcome will not result in a “guilty” verdict but rather a determination of “liability” for monetary and other penalties for violating these six laws.

Another potential issue for the defense arises from the fact that these incriminating drafts, turned over by Mazars but not by the Trump Organization, could indicate non-compliance with state subpoenas regarding document retention and submission.

McConney’s emotional direct testimony concluded with him expressing his pride in his work for the Trump Organization, despite leaving after 35 years due to the stress of repeated subpoenas and accusations of misrepresenting assets.

The trial is set to continue on Monday with testimony expected from Mark Hawthorn, the chief accounting officer for Trump Hotels. This will mark the ninth week of the trial and the third week of the defense’s case.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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