Trump Defense Rests Case in New York Fraud Trial, as AG Calls 2 Surprise Witnesses

Trump Defense Rests Case in New York Fraud Trial, as AG Calls 2 Surprise Witnesses
Former President Donald Trump departs for lunch and speaks to the media during his trial in New York State Supreme Court in New York City on Dec. 7, 2023. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

As the civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump in New York drew toward a close, the New York Attorney General’s office sprung two surprise rebuttal witnesses on the defense team.

Kevin Sneddon, a former real estate broker for Trump International Realty, was presented as a witness to rebut the testimony of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, a codefendant in the case.

Eric Lewis, an accounting professor, was presented as an expert to rebut the testimonies of accounting professor Eli Barton and Jason Flemmons, CPA.

Trump attorney Chris Kise argued that these were not proper rebuttal witnesses, the attorney general should have presented them as witnesses before they rested their case, and the court should not allow the prosecutors to now “backfill” their case when they failed to meet the burden of proof initially.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron allowed the rebuttals after Mr. Bartov finished his testimony.

Mr. Bartov, who began his testimony last week and had said he saw no evidence of fraud or violations of accounting practices, and thought the case had no merit, continued to explain valuation and accounting principles. On cross-examination, Mr. Bartov was pressed to instances were Trump Organization figures were higher than third-party reports, leading to one exchange where the defense objected, arguing they had “cornered” him into a yes or no answer to meant to “mislead” and wouldn’t let Mr. Bartov qualify.

State attorneys argued that several of President Trump’s properties, including the Seven Springs estate, Doral golf course, 40 Wall Street, Mar-a-Lago, and Aberdeen were overvalued, and that a third-party report valued assets by half as much as Trump Organization. Mr. Bartok explained that the valuations different based on methodologies used, and they needed to look at the whole picture instead of just one line.

Mr. Bartov also testified that President Trump would have had enough cash to finance deals like Doral without a loan, though it may have required selling another property depending on how liquid his assets were.

President Trump, originally set to testify on Monday, had announced over the weekend he would no longer do so. On Tuesday, he posted to social media that he had wanted to testify, but not with a gag order still in place.

With the end of Mr. Bartov’s testimony, the defense rested their case. On Tuesday, defense attorneys had asked again for a directed verdict; the judge did not grant it.

Tense Rebuttals

Mr. Sneddon testified that he was not aware Trump Organization put out statements of financial condition, the documents at the center of the fraud case, until the attorney general told him in preparation for the trial. Mr. Lewis testified that he had devised his own test for materiality, meaning his expert opinion was not based on standard practice.

Their testimonies, comparatively brief, were punctuated by constant objections from defense attorneys who argued the witnesses were speaking outside their area of expertise and on issues of no relevance to a proper rebuttal.

Mr. Sneddon was called on as a rebuttal witness because he had been named in the now infamous error regarding the Trump Tower triplex penthouse. He testified that he wasn’t the one who came up with the 30,000 square foot figure, and that he had gotten the number from CFO Mr. Weisselberg who spoke on the phone with him and gave an estimate. Mr. Sneddon said his valuation of $120 million to $180 million, which was then provided to former Trump Organization comptroller Jeffrey McConney, was based on this mistaken square footage.

Mr. Lewis introduced himself and gave an overview of his qualifications before the court adjourned for the day. The trial will continue Wednesday.

From The Epoch Times

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