Trump Org. lawyers almost impeach their own witness at trial

Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. arrive for a news conference at Trump Tower in New York, as Allen Weisselberg, center, chief financial officer of The Trump, looks on Jan. 11, 2017. – TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/AFP/TNS

The Trump Org.’s own lawyers almost impeached their witness during the trial on Monday.

“Defense lawyer Susan Necheles said [Trump accountant Donald Bender], a partner at Mazars USA LLP who spent years overseeing tax returns for Trump’s hundreds of entities, ‘surprised’ her when he testified that he didn’t actually do much work on the company’s tax returns,” the Associated Press reported Monday afternoon.

Bender said that he delegated some of the work to others in the firm.

“That answer surprised me because it’s just not true,” Necheles said after Bender and the jury left the courtroom for lunch.

She wanted permission to confront Bender with records showing that “he spent more time working on tax returns for the Trump Corporation” than he testified under oath. The defense lawyers stopped short of saying she sought to undermine his credibility before the jury.

“I don’t want to impeach the witness. I don’t want to call him a liar,” Necheles said. “That’s impeaching the witness.”

The report noted that Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is already annoyed with Trump’s defense team after they filed a Sunday night motion.

“I believe I’ve bent over backward to allow both defendants to prepare a defense,” Merchan told the Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. lawyers. “I don’t believe that means I have to let you throw everything at the jury and see what sticks.”

The scheme involves Trump funneling cars, tuition, housing and other benefits to employees and not reporting it on taxes. Trump has talked about it on his social media site saying that they’re “fringe benefits” and that they happen under corporations all the time and he’s being singled out.

“The D.A. case against two small Trump entities has fallen apart. Even the Media is saying so,” Trump asserted without providing any evidence. “There has never been a ‘Fringe Benefits’ case such as this brought before. Did a long time executive pay tax on the use of a company car, or a company apartment, or payments (not even taken by us as a tax deduction!) for the education of his grandchildren? For this, he gets handcuffs and jail?”

In court, however, Trump’s legal team has claimed that they didn’t know it was happening and that their CFO Allen Weisselberg went rogue. Trump then blamed Bender for not catching the scheme.

The highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked these things up – we relied on them. VERY UNFAIR!” he exclaimed.

Read the full report.

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