Jurors in Trump's hush-money trial finally see the 34 allegedly falsified documents in accounting-heavy day of testimony


  • Donald Trump’s criminal trial finally arrived at the 34 documents at the heart of the case.

  • Prosecutors allege Trump falsified records to cover up reimbursements to Michael Cohen.

  • Longtime Trump Organization employees testified about the handling of reimbursements.

For the past two weeks, jurors in former President Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial heard about extra-marital affairs, seedy “catch and kill” machinations, and the frantic damage control within his campaign ahead of the 2016 election.

On Monday, they heard a lot about accounting.

Prosecutors spent the day presenting two dry — but crucial — witnesses who handled The Trump Organization’s finances, cutting checks and creating records within the company.

Those witnesses, longtime Trump Organization employees Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarassoff, handled the checks, invoices, and other records that comprise the 34 business records the Manhattan district attorney’s office alleges Trump illegally falsified.

This paperwork, shown on giant TV screens in the courtroom, is the crux of the case.

The purpose of those falsifications, prosecutors say, was to cover up reimbursements to Michael Cohen, who wired a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges the money interfered with the election by silencing Daniels’ story, long denied by Trump, of a hotel-suite fling during a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament in 2006, just months after Melania Trump gave birth to their son.

After a brief hearing Monday morning — in which the judge held Trump in contempt for a 10th gag order violation and threatened to jail him — prosecutors called McConney to the stand.

Under a mop of shiny white hair, McConney testified about how finances were managed at the Trump Organization, where he worked for over 30 years and served as the company’s controller before retiring in February 2023. He oversaw 401K plans, loan documents, and payroll processing.

Most crucially for the case, he also oversaw Trump’s accounts payable department and the accounts receivable department.

“Accounts receivable is the other side, when someone owes you money,” McConney said, making grabbing motions in the air with his hands.

The two Trump Organization employees were responsible for making sure Cohen got paid

McConney testified about a meeting in January 2017 with Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer at the time.

Weisselberg has since stepped down from the position. He was sentenced to five months in jail in 2022 for a Trump Organization felony payroll tax-fraud prosecution, and is now serving another five-month sentence for felony perjury in last year’s Trump Organization civil fraud trial.

The Trump Organization needed to reimburse Cohen for some money, McConney testified that Weissberg told him.

“Are you familiar with someone named Michael Cohen?” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked McConney on the stand.

McConney gave a heavy sigh, paused, and then answered, “Yes.”

“He said he was a lawyer,” McConney added, to some laughter in the courtroom.

Prosecutors showed jurors a copy of a bank statement revealing that Cohen sent $130,000 to Keith Davidson — an attorney representing Stormy Daniels, who testified earlier — from one of his accounts.

In handwritten notes shown to the jury, Weisselberg had added $50,000 to cover technical services, doubled that sum to account for the taxes, and then added on a $60,000 bonus.

That total of $420,000 should be disbursed to Cohen throughout 2017, in $35,000 chunks, McConney jotted down in a second document.

Colangelo led jurors meticulously through what prosecutors say was the phonied up paperwork for each of these reimbursement checks.

Each reimbursement check began with Cohen emailing an invoice — and a personal greeting — to Weisselberg, the CFO.

“Hope you are holding up and not damaged by the hurricane to your Florida home,” Cohen emailed the CFO in September of 2017.

“Happy Thanksgiving and hope all is well,” Cohen emailed the CFO when he sent along his November invoice.

In each month’s email Cohen would attach a brief invoice — 11 in all, each of them a falsified document, the DA alleges.

“Dear Allen,” each began. “Pursuant to the retainer agreement, kindly remit payment,” the invoice would continue.

Weisselberg forwarded each invoice to McConney, the controller, who would forward them to Tarasoff, the accounts payable supervisor.

Tarasoff would print and cut the checks, 11 in all — each of them another alleged falsified document.

Jurors saw each of these checks, too, including nine Capital One personal checks to Cohen that Trump would need to sign himself throughout his first year at the White House.

That created a problem, McConney said. For decades, Trump worked from his office upstairs in Trump Tower, and it was easy to get ahold of him to sign a check. As president, he was rarely in New York, McConney said.

“Somehow, we would have to get a package to the White House,” McConney said. Yet another Trump Organization employee would FedEx the checks to Trump in DC, he testified.

In the afternoon, prosecutor Christopher Conroy slogged through more records with Tarasoff, who said she has worked at the Trump Organization for 24 years.

Tarasoff sounded both anxious and cautious as she walked jurors through the process of printing, cutting, and creating payment vouchers for each check.

The parade of emails and invoices didn’t excite everyone. At one point during Tarasoff’s testimony, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche let out a wide-mouthed yawn.

Conroy scored a point that seemed to demonstrate Trump was paying attention to each and every check. Sometimes, Tarassoff testified, he’d write “VOID” on a check if he didn’t want it paid.

“It was signed in black and it was in Sharpie and that’s what he usually uses,” Tarasoff said.

Read the original article on Business Insider





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