Politics "I don't recall": Allen Weisselberg, ex-Trump Org CFO, draws...

“I don’t recall”: Allen Weisselberg, ex-Trump Org CFO, draws a blank on dozens of questions in New York fraud trial

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Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, knows that he was involved in creating so-called statements of financial condition for former President Donald Trump for years.

He doesn’t remember much else.

Weisselberg replied with variations of “I don’t recall” to dozens of questions in a New York courtroom on Tuesday, where he testified in a trial accusing him, Trump, two of Trump’s sons and their company of years of fraud connected with the statements.

He didn’t recall speaking with Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump or their former fixer and attorney about the documents, which were crucial to the company’s efforts to make deals with banks and insurers. He didn’t recall the phrase “estimated current value,” which both sides agree is crucial to understanding their arguments. He didn’t recall details of “generally accepted accounting principles,” noting he’s not a certified public accountant.

Weisselberg admitted to learning at some point that Trump’s roughly 10,000 square foot New York City apartment was being valued as if it was 30,000 square feet. But he couldn’t say when, or with whom he discussed it.

He also acknowledged “periodically” receiving comments from Trump about the statements of financial condition before they were finalized, but could not recall specifics about any changes Trump might have sought.

The last time Weisselberg took the witness stand, the stakes for the company were vastly different. After a jury in December 2022 found two Trump Organization companies guilty on 17 criminal counts related to tax fraud, the company was ordered to pay $1.6 million in fines. 

On Tuesday, he was appearing in a civil trial in which the New York attorney general is asking a judge to claw back $250 million from the company for alleged systematic fraud and impose a host of sanctions designed to severely restrict many of its businesses in the state. Weisselberg is a defendant, and so is Trump himself. Before the 2022 criminal trial, Weisselberg entered a guilty plea to fraud and tax evasion. Company lawyers pinned the blame for fraud on him, repeating the phrase “Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg” like a mantra.

In this fraud trial, the attorney general wants to show Trump did it for Trump.

During a May deposition that’s now an exhibit in the case, Weisselberg said his conversations with Trump about the statements were limited.

“It was more of just handing it to him and him taking it up to his apartment, maybe reading it in the evening, and making some notations giving it back to me,” Weisselberg said, according to a transcript of the deposition.

The defendants are accused of orchestrating a decade-long fraud scheme designed to falsely inflate Trump’s wealth and the valuations of certain Trump properties. The goal, New York Attorney General Letitia James says, was to receive more favorable terms on loans than they deserved, and by doing so, benefit themselves by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Weisselberg worked for the company for nearly 50 years, going back to an era when Trump’s father was at the helm. In January of this year, he signed a severance agreement with the company entitling him to $2 million paid in installments over two years, according to the May deposition.

Trump spoke about their long relationship in his own deposition in April. 

“He was with me for a long time. He was liked. He was respected. Now, he’s gone through hell and back. What’s happened to him is very sad,” Trump said.

Trump attended the first two and a half days of the trial last week, watching his longtime accountant Donald Bender on the stand. Bender testified that his company, Mazars USA, relied on figures provided to him by Trump Organization executives when compiling the statements of financial condition. In early 2022, Mazars dropped Trump and the company as clients, and recanted a decade of those statements.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the case as politically motivated. He was not in attendance for Weisselberg’s testimony.

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