- Responsibilities for financial statements at the Trump Organization were diffused through multiple parties including ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg and its independent accountant Mazars USA and were subject to review by former President Donald J. Trump, Trump Organization ex-controller Jeffrey McConney said this week during the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil fraud suit against the former President.
- “Between the time you and Weisselberg reviewed the statement and Weisselberg gave it to Mazars to print it, it was your understanding that Weisselberg would give the statement to Donald J. Trump to review the draft statement?” State attorney Andrew Amer asked McConney during cross-examination Tuesday. “That was my understanding,” McConney answered.
- When the former President was elected to the White House, Weisselberg alongside Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. as trustees of the Trump Revocable Trust assumed responsibilities such as the final review and certification of financial statements prior to Weisselberg’s departure as CFO.
McConney retook the stand this week after testifying as a witness for the prosecution several months ago. In his role as controller for the Trump Organization, McConney helped to prepare key calculations for property valuations before the data was passed to Weisselberg and Mazars for the statements’ completion.
The Trump Organization’s statements of financial condition are crucial to the NY AG’s case, which alleges that Trump, along with his two eldest sons and key officials such as Weisselberg and McConney, fraudulently inflated the former president’s net worth to obtain bank loans with more favorable terms than would have otherwise been available.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing; his two eldest sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have repeatedly downplayed their responsibilities in certifying financial statements, pointing to Weisselberg and Mazars as the key parties involved in preparing such statements.
During previous testimony, the ex-controller admitted that he had inflated the valuations of some key Trump properties under scrutiny in the AG’s civil fraud trial, under the direction of the former President’s son, Eric Trump, CNN previously reported.
McConney has denied knowledge or responsibility of what occurred once his valuations were passed to Weisselberg: “I don’t know what [Weisselberg] did or did not do with the [former] president,” he told Amer Tuesday.
The organization’s independent accountants for more than three decades, Mazars cut ties with the Trump Organization last February and warned it could no longer vouch for the accuracy of a decade’s worth of financial statements, CFO Dive previously reported.
Trump attorney Jesus Suarez pressed McConney on his relationship with Mazars, peppering him with questions relating particularly to his relationship with Mazars accountant Donald Bender, also a witness in the case. Bender played a key role in preparing the organization’s financial statements and was particularly responsible for formulating Trump’s tax strategy, McConney said Tuesday, and worked closely with Weisselberg for processes such as determining the valuation of key properties.
“If we were preparing [former President] Trump’s tax return we would talk every fifteen minutes,” McConney said of his working relationship with Bender, whom the former controller also classed as a close personal friend during this time.
Suarez zeroed in on Mazars’ role when it came to the valuation of Trump’s Park Avenue property — McConney previously testified that himself and Weisselberg inflated the value of Trump’s Park Avenue property by agreeing consciously not to include that some of the apartments were rent-stabilized, which would lower the real estate value as those units cannot be rented at market price.
“Did you ever attempt to withhold from Mazars that there were rent-stabilized units at Trump Park Avenue?” Suarez asked.
“Absolutely not,” McConney said Tuesday.
McConney is the last witness slated to testify before the court takes a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. A long-time veteran of the Trump Organization brought on by Weisselberg, McConney became visibly upset in court Tuesday when asked by Suarez why he was no longer working there.
“I’m very proud of what I did for 35 years,” he said, adding that he got to do “a lot that a normal accountant wouldn’t be able to do.” McConney also testified that he never had the intent to mislead or provide inaccurate information on financial statements.
“I just wanted to relax and stop being accused of misrepresenting assets of the company I've been working for," McConney said. "To be hit with a negative comment every time is just really frustrating."
Amer also questioned McConney over his severance agreement with the organization, asking whether his agreement includes language similar to that included in Weisselberg’s $2 million severance document barring the ex-CFO from disparaging the Trump Organization. McConney was unclear, stating that he had signed his agreement a year ago.
Tensions among Trump defense attorneys and presiding Judge Arthur Engoron have spiked recently as the case draws to its close, with Trump’s attorneys filing a motion for a mistrial this past Friday — which was summarily denied by Judge Engoron. In a four-page ruling, Engoron rebuffed claims of bias by Trump’s attorneys, reiterating his right to communicate with his law clerk and stating that doing so “is no way evidence that the final decisions are anyone’s but mine.”
While the mistrial request was denied, an appeals court also temporarily lifted the gag order on speaking about the judge or his staff imposed on the former President and his attorneys, with Donald J. Trump taking advantage of the temporary stay to post comments decrying the judge and his law clerk on Truth Social.
“His Ridiculous and Unconstitutional Gag Order, not allowing me to defend myself against him and his politically biased and out of control, Trump Hating Clerk, who is sinking him and his Court to new levels of LOW, is a disgrace,” Trump wrote in a long post Thursday on the social media site that he owns.