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ENHANCEMENT? Engoron ponders perjury penalty in Trump fraud trial

ENHANCEMENT? Engoron ponders perjury penalty in Trump fraud trial

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Judge Arthur Engoron was expected to release a ruling on Donald Trump’s New York fraud case before the end of January. With the nation on verdict watch, he just dropped an email that could add extra dimensions to the case.

The Trump Organization’s former Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, and co-defendant in this case, took the witness stand during the trial. Reports quickly surfaced showing discrepancies between what he said on the stand and what had already been factually shown, such as his efforts to minimize his role in overvaluing Trump’s triplex apartment.

Before the trial even came to an end, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office was said to be looking into the possibility of charging Weisselberg with perjury. The former CFO had already spent 5 months in Riker’s Island for felonies stemming from a tax evasion scheme connected to the Trump Org.

Now Weisselberg may be looking at a plea deal that would require him to plead guilty to perjury committed during his testimony in Engoron’s courtroom, and the judge wants more information. The New York Times reported:

“’I of course want to know whether Mr. Weisselberg is now changing his tune, and whether he is admitting he lied under oath in my courtroom at this trial,’ Justice Engoron wrote to the lawyers on both sides of the case in a recent email made public on Tuesday.”

During the trial, Engoron made it very clear that he was skeptical of some witness testimony, particularly New York University accounting professor Eli Bartov, who praised Trump’s accounting and said he could not see any grounds for fraud charges. Courthouse News reported:

“’Bartov is a tenured professor, but all that his testimony proves is that for a million or so dollars, some experts will say whatever you want them to say,’ Engoron wrote.”

Now he’s reaching out to both Trump’s counsel and the District Attorney’s office, demanding more information before he makes his decision. He’s giving them until the end of the business day on Wednesday to make a response. In an email, he wrote:

“Although the Times article focuses on the size of the Trump Tower Penthouse, his testimony on other topics could also be called into question…As the article notes ‘perjury particularly in a high-profile trial- undermines the broader ends of justice and cannot be ignored.'”

Engoron has asked the attorneys to make any suggestions on how they recommend he handle the case if a witness is admitting to lying on the stand.

As Judge Engoran ponders these questions, speculation about how it might affect the size of the penalty he imposes on Trump and his Organization is running rampant. Suffice it to say that none of these perjury accusations are likely to help reduce the sanctions imposed.

Stephanie Bazzle
Steph Bazzle is a news writer who covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph. Sign up for all of her stories to be delivered to your inbox here:

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