Trump attacks comptroller in trade fraud case after she reported errors


Donald Trump in court in Lower Manhattan, New York, October 17, 2023.

John Taggart | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Donald Trump on Monday criticized the comptroller overseeing the Trump Organization and urged a judge to fire her days after she reported on a host of issues — including an alleged $48 million errant loan — in the former president’s civil business fraud case in New York.

Trump’s lawyer wrote in a letter to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron that the independent monitor, Barbara Jones, “aggressively seeks to justify continued receipt of millions of dollars in fees in the future.”

Attorney Clifford Robert wrote that Jones’ findings “simply do not support or provide any evidentiary basis for continued surveillance.”

Robert made this argument three days after Jones submitted a report to Engoron accusing the Trump Organization of providing incomplete, inconsistent or incorrect information about its financial disclosures.

In a footnote to that report, Jones said she had identified a loan between Trump himself and an entity linked to Trump Tower in Chicago that later turned out to not exist.

She was told that the total loan was believed to be $48 million, but that there were no agreements to commemorate it.

“However, in recent discussions with the Trump Organization, it has indicated that it has determined that this loan never existed” and that it will be removed from subsequent forms, Jones wrote.

Robert called this an “obvious lie” in his letter on Monday.

“The Trump entities, of course, never said the loan did not exist,” he wrote. “Instead, they provided a copy of an internal memo that simply reflected that ‘there were no obligations or liabilities outstanding’ under the loan at that time.”

He added that “the observatory’s deliberate mischaracterization casts further doubt on its competence and veracity” and “simply fails to support continued oversight.”

Jones did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Robert’s letter.

Jones’ report came days before Engoron issued a ruling in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case accusing Trump, his two adult children, his company and its senior executives of fraudulently inflating the values ​​of Trump’s assets to boost his net worth and obtain financing. Suits.

James is seeking to ban Trump for life from participating in the New York real estate industry or serving as an officer or director of a company in the state. It is also seeking a five-year ban on the same terms imposed on Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who took over the Trump Organization after their father became president in 2017. The attorney general is also seeking fines of more than $370 million.

The public entrance to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Robert Alexander | Photo archive | Getty Images

Jones, a retired federal judge involved in numerous Trump-related legal proceedings, was selected in November 2022 by both Trump and James as their top pick to serve as an independent monitor in the civil fraud case.

But Robert criticized Jones in a letter on Monday, accusing her of releasing her latest report to ensure she would continue to “receive the exorbitant fees” paid by Trump and his co-defendants. Robert said Jones raised more than $2.6 million in 14 months.

Robert also accused the monitor’s report of containing errors that cast doubt on her competence, and of being “misleading and deceptive.”

Jones “re-examines issues that have long been resolved,” Robert wrote, accusing the watchdog of being “shamelessly self-serving” in reporting that the Trump Organization could continue to make mistakes that lead to inaccurate financial information being sent to third parties.

“Further oversight is unwarranted and will only unjustly enrich the Monitor as it engages in some Javert-like endeavors against the accused,” Robert wrote, referring to the misguided legal enforcer from the musical “Les Misérables.”

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In a statement, Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Casey, described Jones’ report as “truly a joke.” He described his overall findings as just a bunch of clerical errors and inconsequential inconsistencies.

“Indeed, it is shocking that President Trump would have to pay millions for an auditor to prove what he has said from the beginning, namely that there is no misconduct in financial reporting, there is no fraud, and there is simply no basis for this abusive operation to continue,” Case wrote.

A spokeswoman for James called that statement “patently false,” referring to the issues Jones found, including $40 million in cash transfers that had not previously been disclosed to her, as requested.

Engoron said he would try to issue a decision in the case by Wednesday, but noted that there was no guarantee when a ruling would be issued.

The judge had ruled before the start of the two-month trial that Trump and the other defendants were liable for fraudulently misrepresenting the values ​​of various assets in major financial forms. The trial was conducted to determine damages and resolve other claims of wrongdoing in James’ lawsuit.

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