Testimony by former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg — as well as what he allegedly told Forbes magazine in 2016 about the size of Donald Trump’s Fifth Avenue triplex — are now in the crosshairs of the New York Attorney General in the $250 million civil suit against former President Trump and his associates and company.
In a letter Thursday, Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel with the New York Attorney General’s Office, expressed concern to the presiding judge about Weisselberg testimony and a recent Forbes article titled, “Trump’s Longtime CFO Lied Under Oath, About Trump Tower Penthouse.”
Wallace noted in the letter to Judge Arthur Engoron, and included in a court filing, that he had previously asked “for an opportunity to follow up on the Forbes article,” which described prior emails written by Weisselberg and reporters’ notes. The attorney general’s office had not obtained some of the records, Wallace said.
“Based on a review of the documents produced by Defendants, OAG has identified likely omissions from production around inquiries from Forbes in 2016,” Wallace said in the letter.
Wallace flagged what he said was the failure of the Trump Organization to produce emails that have recently surfaced despite “a years-long process” involving OAG subpoenas and multiple affidavits attesting that the Trump Organization has met its obligations. The omissions “indicates a breakdown somewhere in the process of preserving, collecting, reviewing and producing documents,” Wallace said.
Wallace said it appears that the Trump firm didn’t hand over a “later set of emails between Mr. Weisselberg” and a real estate brokerage firm. He called for a monitor to undertake a forensic examination of electronic data held by the Trump Organization from August through September of 2016.
Trump and the AG’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Weisselberg, a defendant in New York’s civil-fraud case, was accused by Forbes of lying under oath last week when he claimed he had little to do with an allegedly bogus valuation of Trump’s penthouse at Trump Tower.
Under questioning from Louis Solomon of the New York Attorney General’s office, Weisselberg conceded that Trump’s own triplex apartment in New York City’s Trump Tower was only 10,966 square feet even though the company’s statements of financial condition listed the apartment as 30,000 square feet starting in 2012, CFO Dive previously reported.
In an exchange about the discrepancy, Weisselberg said there were other items he had been more worried about, NBC reported in its live trial updates. “The value of that apartment relative to his net worth is not material. It’s about 1%,” Weisselberg said, according to the report. “Looking at the statement of financial condition there were much larger items on there that I was more concerned about.”
The Oct. 12 report published by Forbes said that Weisselberg, contrary to his testimony on the witness stand, “absolutely thought about Trump’s apartment — and played a key role in trying to convince Forbes over the course of several years that it was worth more than it really was.” Forbes cited emails and notes indicating Weisselberg’s involvement in valuing the apartment.
The paper trail indicating that Weisselberg was untruthful began in 2009, when Weisselberg and Trump asked to meet with a Forbes reporter, according to the Forbes report.
“Forbes does not know whether the Trump Organization produced all of its documents. The evidence that Forbes has that Weisselberg lied, which the attorney general’s office certainly does not have, is a collection of notes taken by Forbes reporters who were in touch with the Trump Organization over the years while estimating the size of Trump’s fortune,” according to the Forbes story.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit in September 2022, alleging that the former president — with help from his two oldest sons and Weisselberg — falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to secure bank loans for the company on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, among other motives.
Trump’s lawyers have appealed a ruling last month from Engoron — which found that AG James had satisfied her burden of establishing liability on the part of the defendants related to their use of fraudulent documents that inflated the value of many of Trump’s properties, including his penthouse apartment.
The former president has derided the suit as politically motivated and his attorneys have argued that property appraisals are subjective and more art than science. In court this week his attorneys sought to show that their appraisal and financial reporting practices were routine and that there was nothing “sinister” about them.
Separately, attorneys for both sides are arguing over the admissability of testimony from a Trump executive who said Allen Weisselberg told him that, “Mr. Trump wanted his net worth on the Statement of Financial Condition to go up,” according to court filings.
Late Friday Trump was fined $5,000 by Engoron for violating a gag order not to speak about any members of the court staff, and was warned about possible imprisonment, CNN reported.