Key Witness in Donald J. Trump’s Civil Fraud Case Accused of Perjury
The judge overseeing Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud case has raised doubts about the truthfulness of a key witness, Allen H. Weisselberg, who is Mr. Trump’s longtime chief financial officer. The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, is expected to make a decision in the case this month. He cited a recent New York Times article that reported on Weisselberg’s potential agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to plead guilty to perjury for his testimony.
Justice Engoron has asked both sides’ lawyers to address whether Weisselberg lied under oath in his courtroom. The judge wants to ensure that he considers all relevant information in this significant case and may even disqualify Weisselberg’s testimony based on the plea negotiations.
Complex Cases and Overlapping Jurisdictions
The civil fraud case against Mr. Trump, Weisselberg, and others was brought by the New York attorney general, Letitia James. Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, is preparing to try Mr. Trump for criminal charges related to a hush-money payment. These overlapping criminal and civil cases have led to a complex situation.
The attorney general’s office accused Mr. Trump and Weisselberg of fraudulently inflating the former president’s net worth, seeking a penalty of approximately $370 million. The trial took place in the fall, with Weisselberg being one of more than 40 witnesses. However, his testimony came under scrutiny after Forbes magazine accused him of lying under oath about valuing Mr. Trump’s penthouse apartment.
The Judge’s Inquiry and Plea Negotiations
Justice Engoron has requested that lawyers for Mr. Trump and Ms. James provide information on the situation and suggest how he should address it in his final ruling. He is considering whether to completely disregard Weisselberg’s testimony based on the plea negotiations. Additionally, the judge wants to know if the negotiations should impact the timing of his decision, which was initially expected by Jan. 31.
The district attorney’s prosecutors initiated negotiations with Weisselberg’s lawyers after the trial concluded. It remains uncertain whether Weisselberg will agree to plead guilty to felony or misdemeanor charges. In the absence of a plea deal, Mr. Bragg could seek to indict him.
Legal Jeopardy and Political Motivations
This is not the first time Weisselberg has faced legal trouble. In 2022, he pleaded guilty to an unrelated tax fraud case and served approximately 100 days in jail. The current negotiations could result in his return to jail. Mr. Trump’s legal team has criticized the district attorney’s pursuit of Weisselberg, viewing it as a politically motivated attack on the former president.
While Mr. Trump and his team argue against the district attorney’s motives, prosecutors emphasize the importance of stamping out perjury to maintain the integrity of the criminal justice system. Given the high-profile nature of Weisselberg’s testimony, he is particularly susceptible to scrutiny.
Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2024-02-07 14:38:00
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