- Former President Donald J. Trump did not direct his son Eric Trump to approve the separation agreement of the Trump Organization’s ex-CFO, Allen Weisselberg, Eric Trump testified in court Friday. The agreement includes a $2 million severance package for Weisselberg.
- State attorney Andrew Amer questioned Eric Trump, an EVP in his father’s organization, about the terms of Weisselberg’s severance, which is set to be paid via installments over a two-year period which began in January.
- In testimony Friday, Eric Trump spoke to Weisselberg’s long tenure at his father’s organization and insisted that the language of the severance agreement was standard. “I have no disagreement with Mr. Weisselberg,” Eric Trump said. “I was the person who did this, I was the person who signed it, I was the person who negotiated it.”
A named defendant in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil fraud case against the former president, Weisselberg’s level of knowledge and responsibility surrounding the organization’s financial statements are a crucial element of the NY AG’s case.
The suit alleges that Trump and senior officials in the Trump Organization, including his two eldest children and Weisselberg fraudulently inflated the former president’s net worth in order to obtain bank loans on more favorable terms than would have otherwise been available for the organization.
Weisselberg inked a $2 million severance agreement with the Trump Organization in association with his departure from the company, to be paid in $250k installments over a period of two years. As of Friday, Weisselberg had only received the first three installments of the promised severance, Eric Trump confirmed when responding to questions by Amer.
The severance agreement was signed in January. Weisselberg, a long-standing employee of the Trump Organization, pled guilty to 15 counts of tax fraud last August. Eric Trump “presumably” would have been aware of Weisselberg’s guilty plea before signing the agreement, he said when asked about the matter by Amer.
Amer also questioned Eric Trump on the terms of the severance agreement, in which Weisselberg promises not to verbally or in writing disparage the Trump Organization or associated entities and not to disparage the organization’s current or former officers.
When asked by Amer if Weisselberg, under the terms of the agreement, was being paid not to disparage the Organization and its current or former officers — particularly Eric Trump, his father, and his siblings Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump — Eric Trump stated that the language used in the severance agreement appeared “standard” to him and that he would not disparage Weisselberg.
“You’re not getting installment payments from him; he’s getting installment payments from you,” Amer replied.
Barring acts of testimony or by subpoena, Weisselberg also agreed he would not communicate with or cooperate with any entity or individual bringing adverse claims against the organization, the agreement states.
“Would that include the New York Attorney General’s office?” Amer asked Eric Trump.
“Are you adverse to us?” Eric Trump retorted, reiterating that the language highlighted “seems pretty boilerplate.” “Yes, I think the whole world knows you’re adverse to us, so I would say yes.”
Both Eric Trump and his brother Donald Trump Jr. have repeatedly denied responsibility for the organization’s statements of financial condition, which the NY AG’s office allege contain the fraudulent figures that would have enabled the Trump Organization to obtain more favorable loans. In testimony Thursday, both brothers placed the bulk of such responsibilities on the accounting team, including ex-CFO Weisselberg and its previous independent accounting firm Mazars USA.
However, the facts of the case tell a different story, NY AG Letitia James said yesterday in a video statement posted to social media platform X, formerly Twitter. Eric Trump was “intimately involved” in determining the value of certain Trump properties, NY AG James asserted, while Trump Jr. continued to certify financial statements and make key financial and business decisions for his father in his role as a trustee for the Trump Revocable Trust, she said.
In his own statement on social media platform Truth Social, former President Donald J. Trump — who has denied any wrongdoing — continued to insist that the NY AG’s case has no merit, writing it is “so sad to see my sons being PERSECUTED in a political Witch Hunt by this out of control, publicity seeking, New York State Judge, on a case that should have NEVER been brought,” he said. “Legal Scholars Scream Disgrace!”
The ex-president’s and the NY AG’s comments echo the case’s broad political undercurrents, with tensions in the courtroom already running high on Friday before Eric Trump resumed his testimony. Presiding Judge Arthur Engoron and defense attorney Chris Kise resumed a heated exchange which broke out Thursday surrounding members of the judge’s staff and what Trump’s attorneys have termed the appearance of bias.
Engoron Thursday instructed the Trump team not to refer to his staff again and threatened to expand his previously issued gag order to the court’s attorneys, including Kise. The judge restated Friday that he had an “unfettered right” to receive advice from his staff, while Kise continued to insist on the appearance of bias in the trial— referencing an apparent news article which alleged extra-judicial conduct on the part of certain members of the judge’s team.
“I’m not the internet person,” Kise snapped when asked by state attorney Kevin Wallace to cite the source of the allegations. Kise appeared to be referencing an article published by far right news publication Breitbart.
Late Friday, the judge in a written ruling widened his previously issued gag order to the court’s attorneys, prohibiting future comments surrounding confidential communications between himself and his staff.
“I hereby order that all counsel are prohibited from making any public statements, in or out of court, that refer to any confidential communications, in any form, between my staff and me,” the ruling reads. “Failure to abide by this directive shall result in serious sanctions.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information on Judge Engoron’s Friday ruling.