Fraud-trial judge saves Trump from what could have been a shoot-self-in-foot plan to call Trump Org’s court-ordered watchdog as a defense witness

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  • Court-appointed monitor Barbara Jones has criticized the Trump Organization’s transparency.
  • Despite this, Trump’s lawyers had hoped to call her as their own witness in the NY fraud trial.
  • The judge bitten that plan; Meanwhile, on December 11, Trump will be his own final defense witness.

Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to squeeze an unlikely new name onto their already crowded witness list. New York civil fraud trial Monday: Barbara Jones, the Trump Organization’s most critical court-appointed monitor.

At the hearing, the judge, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engron, denied the defense’s request, saving Trump’s side from itself in the process.

As in 12 months Trump Org independent watchdogJones, a retired federal judge, has repeatedly described the Trump Organization’s ongoing problems with style and clarity.

Jones didn’t even have to be in court Monday to make her criticisms of the attorney general’s office big.

State Attorney Letitia James’ attorney, Andrew Amer, played Jones’ sentencing sentences on big screens in the Manhattan courthouse.

Jones’ Aug. 3 report on the Trump Organization found that during her tenure nine months ago, the former president’s real estate and golf resort company was providing creditors with “incomplete” information regarding “certain material liabilities.”

Independent Monitor August 2023 Criticism of the Trump Organization

Independent Monitor August 2023 Criticism of the Trump Organization.

New York Unified Court System

“Did you know that Judge Jones prepared a report stating that certain reports were incomplete?” Amer asked Monday afternoon.

He was investigating Mark Hawthorne, who ran Trump’s hotel suite. The AG’s attorney pointed him to the language in the Jones report.

“Yes, we were aware of this letter,” replied Hawthorn.

Amer read critical passages in the filing, including sections where Jones suggested Trump Org was not providing lenders with a full picture of debts such as “returnable golf club membership deposits.”

Jones also said the company “did not consistently file all of the required annual and quarterly certifications as to the accuracy of certain financial statements,” Amer added, still reading from Jones’ August report.

“Did you know that Judge Jones was aware of any such inconsistencies?” Amer then asked the witness.

“Yes,” answered Hawthorn.

Trump’s attorneys called on Jones and one of her staffers, hoping to show that, by and large, the independent monitoring firm found no fraud during the year it covered the company.

Jones and her staff were housed in a “data room” at the Trump Organization’s headquarters in Trump Tower in Manhattan, Hawthorne said earlier Monday under direct examination by Trump attorney Clifford Roberts.

Any misunderstandings or requests for additional information will be cleared up immediately, Hawthorn said. “In our view, the statement we made and presented remains completely correct and accurate,” he said.

“Did you know that the monitor found nothing wrong in all the months it was watching the Trump Organization?” Robert asked. “No,” replied Hawthorne.

“Nobody from that group has ever reported fraud or found any kind of breach,” he added.

Robert and lead defense counsel Christopher Keese pushed hard for Jones and her staff attorney to be added to their witness list.

Relatedly, Robert argued, the Trump Organization spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to accommodate Jones and her staff, and argued that no fraud was uncovered.

Receivers, similar to supervisors, often testify in bankruptcy court.

In the year In a hearing before the same judge in November 2022, Keese condemned the installation of the court-appointed monitor, calling it an “extraordinary intrusion into the free market” and likening it to the “nationalization of private enterprise.”

Attorney General Amer argued Monday that it was too late in the game to change the witness list, and the judge appeared to suggest the state should accept Jones on the stand in light of her reprimand.

“I am surprised by the objection,” said the judge with a smile.

But Jones and her staff are “arms of the court,” the judge said, barring the new defense witnesses. “I don’t want to create the appearance of a conflict of interest,” he said.

The judge told both sides that he spent Monday’s lunch break studying the case law, and said that he could not find a single opportunity for an independent monitor to be called to testify in the case they were looking into.

In the end, Ingoron opened the window slightly for the defense, saying that if they get a case where a supervisor testified in the same situation, he will repeat his decision.

Also on Monday, the defense confirmed that Eric Trump will testify for the defense on December 6, and Donald Trump will take the stand as the defense’s final witness on December 11.

The attorney general is seeking a hearing to permanently bar Trump and his two eldest sons from doing business in New York, citing decades of fraudulent cash statements that he used to generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in interest and insurance-spending breaks, along with profits from related property sales.

It’s the ninth week of Trump’s impeachment trial. The state has not said whether it will file impeachment charges after Trump’s Dec. 11 testimony.

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