Trump legal news brief: Weisselberg testifies Trump’s penthouse apartment is much smaller than what he reported on financial statements

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Allen Weisselberg, the former CFO of the Trump Org., testifies that the former president gave false information on bank and insurance forms about the size of his Manhattan penthouse apartment. Lawyers on Jack Smith’s team ask the judge in the election interference case to make Trump reveal his defense strategy and seek to keep the identity of jurors secret.

New York financial fraud

Weisselberg concedes Trump inflated size of his Trump Tower penthouse on financial forms

Key players: Former Trump Org. chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James

  • Weisselberg took the stand Tuesday in day six of the $250 million financial fraud trial of Trump, his adult sons and their family business and testified that Trump had grossly exaggerated the size of his penthouse apartment on financial statements made to banks and insurers, the Associated Press reported.

  • In October of 1994, Trump signed a document certifying the triplex apartment was 10,996 square feet. In 2012, however, he listed the apartment at 30,000 square feet, prosecutors said.

  • “I never even thought about the apartment,” Weisselberg testified, adding, “It was not something that was that important to me when looking at a $6 billion, $5 billion net worth.”

  • But after being admonished by Engoron, Weisselberg, who served 100 days in prison on tax evasion charges from his time working for Trump, eventually conceded that the actual square footage of the triplex was 10,996.

Why it matters: Engoron has already ruled Trump is liable for years of financial fraud carried out in New York. In court, James is building her case that that fraud was systemic and calculated. The case will decide the amount of money the defendants will have to pay as punishment, as well as the limits of their ability to conduct future business in the state.

Jan. 6 election interference

Prosecutors ask judge to compel Trump to reveal his defense strategy in Jan. 6 case

Key players: DOJ special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Tanya Chutkan, Trump lawyer John Lauro

  • Lawyers on Smith’s team submitted a 14-page court filing Tuesday requesting Chutkan require Trump to declare whether he intends to put forth an “advice-of-counsel” defense when the case goes to trial, Politico reported.

  • That defense states that Trump was simply acting on the advice of his lawyers when he sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

  • In the filing, prosecutors said that if Trump uses that defense at trial, it would allow them to seek additional testimony from 25 witnesses — including members of Trump’s family — who “withheld information, communications, and documents based on assertions of attorney-client privilege” with Trump.

  • Using that defense would invalidate claims of attorney-client privilege, according to the prosecution’s filing.

  • Smith’s team asked Chutkan to issue a ruling so that Trump’s lawyers would be forced to file notice of their intent to use the “advice-of-counsel” defense by Dec. 18, allowing them time to conduct further investigations without delaying the March 4 start of the trial.

Why it matters: Lauro has indicated several times that Trump will mount a defense that states the former president was guided by the advice of his lawyers when contesting the 2020 election results. Smith is intent on keeping the trial on schedule. Trump has asked the judge to dismiss the case altogether.

Smith’s team asks judge to keep identity of jurors secret

Key players: special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Tanya Chutkan, Judge Arthur Engoron

  • In a separate court filing Tuesday, lawyers on Smith’s team asked Chutkan to conceal the identity of prospective jurors in Trump’s forthcoming trial stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the Hill reported.

  • In the filing prosecutors cited “the defendant’s record of using social media to attack others,” such as his recent attack on social media of Engoron’s clerk in the New York civil fraud case.

  • “The parties should also be precluded from any form of investigation — whether online or otherwise — that could reasonably be perceived as vexatious or harassing,” prosecutors added.

  • Lawyers on Smith’s team have already requested that Chutkan issue a gag order on Trump to block him from attacking prosecutors, potential witnesses and others involved in the case. Chutkan will hear arguments on that matter on Oct. 16.

  • In their new filing, prosecutors are seeking to keep Trump and his lawyers from following or making contact with potential jurors on social media.

Why it matters: In his post attacking Engoron’s clerk, Trump posted a picture of her along with false information about her relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to his 6 million followers on Truth Social. Keeping the prospective jurors anonymous in the case would deprive Trump of the opportunity to call their motives into question.

Read more:

Politico: Georgia prosecutors: Trump elector strategy was political — not legal — advice

Independent: All of Trump’s court dates as Trump Organization civil suit begins

CNN: Why is there no jury in the New York civil case against Trump


Monday, Oct. 9


Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Scott Olson/Getty Images, Getty Images (4).

Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Scott Olson/Getty Images, Getty Images (4).

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team submits a filing saying former President Donald Trump’s lawyers used “distorted and exaggerated” claims in their motion to delay the classified documents trial until after the 2024 election. In Trump’s financial fraud civil trial, debate continues to rage over a tax appraiser’s valuation of Mar-a-Lago.

Classified documents

DOJ prosecutors: ‘No reason’ to delay Trump documents case

Key players: Special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Aileen Cannon, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise

  • In a court filing submitted Monday, Department of Justice lawyers told Cannon that Trump’s lawyers had made “distorted and exaggerated” claims in their request to delay the start of the classified documents trial until after the 2024 presidential election, CBS News reported.

  • “Their unfounded claims of Government noncompliance with discovery obligations do not support their request,” prosecutors in Smith’s office wrote.

  • In a filing last week, Kise argued that the trial’s May 20 start date should be moved back because lawyers had not been able to review all of the classified documents at issue.

  • On Friday, Cannon paused the deadlines for the review of classified documents in the case, potentially pushing the trial schedule back. She has yet to rule on whether to reschedule opening arguments.

  • Kise, who was hired by Trump in late August, has yet to receive the security clearance required to view 32 of the sensitive classified documents in the case, but prosecution lawyers noted in their filing Monday that four Trump lawyers and one legal analyst for the defense had already received clearances.

Why it matters: If Cannon grants a delay in the start of the trial, that would free up Trump to continue his presidential campaign rather than sit in court on 32 felony counts of willfully retaining defense information in violation of the Espionage Act and eight counts of obstructing the efforts to recover classified documents.

Financial fraud

How much is Mar-a-Lago worth, exactly?

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump lawyer Alina Habba

  • A contentious issue in the civil trial to determine the penalties Trump, his adult sons and his family business must pay for overinflating the value of their assets is the value of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, the Associated Press reported Monday.

  • Engoron relied upon a valuation done by the Palm Beach County tax appraiser’s office, which put the amount between $18 and $37 million for the club Trump purchased in 1985 for $10 million.

  • In court, Habba has repeated Trump’s claim that the property would sell for $1 billion or more if put on the market, earning a rebuke for Engoron.

  • Real estate professionals told the AP that the actual value is likely between $300 million and $600 million.

  • A private club, Mar-a-Lago charges a $500,000 initiation fee for members and annual dues of $20,000.

  • Mar-a-Lago’s tax bill is $602,000 this year, according to records, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from Florida, is asking officials in Palm Beach County to examine Trump’s claim that the property should be valued at $1 billion, which would result in much higher annual property taxes.

Why it matters: Engoron has already ruled that the defendants are guilty of having inflated their assets. But the punishment in the $250 million suit brought by James will depend on an understanding of the amount Trump benefited from doing so.

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