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Trump lashes out at financial monitor in business fraud case after she reports errors

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Donald Trump at a courthouse in Lower Manhattan, New York, on Oct. 17, 2023.
John Taggart | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at the financial monitor overseeing the Trump Organization and urged a judge to fire her days after she reported a range of issues — and flagged a questionable $48 million loan — in the former president’s New York civil business fraud case.

The independent monitor, Barbara Jones, “desperately seeks to justify the continued receipt of millions of dollars in fees going forward,” an attorney for Trump wrote in a letter to Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron.

The attorney, Clifford Robert, said Jones has collected more than $2.6 million in 14 months on the job. New York Attorney General Letitia James has asked Engoron to order that Jones continue to monitor the Trump Organization for at least five years as part of his judgment in the case.

But Robert wrote that Jones’ findings “simply do not support or provide any evidentiary basis for continued oversight.”

Robert made that argument three days after Jones submitted a report to Engoron accusing the Trump Organization of providing incomplete, inconsistent or incorrect information about its financial disclosures.

In a footnote in that report, Jones said she identified a loan between Trump himself and an entity related to Trump Chicago Tower that later turned out not to exist. She was told that the loan was believed to total $48 million, but that there are no agreements memorializing it.

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, 401 N. Wabash Ave., on Oct. 4, 2022. 
Terrence Antonio James | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

“However, in recent discussions with the Trump Organization, it indicated that it has determined that this loan never existed” and that it would be removed from subsequent forms, Jones wrote.

Robert called that “a demonstrable falsehood” in his letter Monday.

“The Trump entities of course never said the loan did not exist,” he wrote. “Rather, they provided a copy of an internal memorandum reflecting simply that ‘no liabilities or obligations are outstanding’ under the loan at that time.”

“The Monitor’s deliberate mischaracterization casts further doubt on her competency and veracity” and “simply fails to support continued oversight,” he added.

Jones did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Robert’s letter.

Jones’ report came days before Engoron was expected to deliver a verdict in James’ case accusing Trump, his two adult sons, his company and its top executives of fraudulently inflating Trump’s asset values to boost his net worth and obtain financial perks.

James seeks to ban Trump for life from participating in New York’s real estate industry or serving as an officer or director of a business in the state. She also seeks five-year bans with the same conditions for Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who took over the Trump Organization after their father became president in 2017. The attorney general also seeks more than $370 million in penalties.

The public entrance to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Robert Alexander | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Jones, a retired federal judge who has been involved in multiple Trump-related legal proceedings, was selected in November 2022 by both Trump and James as their top pick to serve as the independent monitor in the civil fraud case.

But Robert also lashed out at Jones in Monday’s letter, accusing her of issuing her latest report to ensure she continues to “receive exorbitant fees,” paid for by Trump and his co-defendants.

Robert also claimed that the report contained errors, and that it was “misleading and disingenuous,” casting doubt on Jones’ competency.

The monitor’s “bad faith” effort “rehashes long-resolved issues,” Robert wrote. He accused Jones of being “unabashedly self-serving” in reporting that the Trump Organization could continue to make errors resulting in inaccurate financial information being sent to third parties.

“Further oversight is unwarranted and will only unjustly enrich the Monitor as she engages in some ‘Javert’ like quest against the Defendants,” Robert wrote, referring to the misguided legal enforcer from the musical “Les Misérables.”

Trump’s attorney Christopher Kise in a statement piled on, calling Jones’ report “truly a joke.” He characterized her overall findings as merely a handful of unimportant clerical errors and inconsistencies.

“Indeed, it is shocking that President Trump has been forced to pay millions for a Monitor to prove what he has said from the outset, namely, there is no financial reporting misconduct, no fraud and simply no basis for this abusive process to continue,” Kise wrote.

A spokeswoman for James called that statement “patently false,” referring to the issues Jones found, including $40 million in cash transfers that were previously undisclosed to her, as is required.

Engoron has said he will try to deliver a decision in the case by Wednesday, while noting that there is no guarantee on when he will issue a verdict.

The judge had ruled before the two-month trial even began that Trump and his co-defendants were liable for fraudulently misstating the values of various assets on key financial forms. The trial was conducted to determine damages and resolve other claims of wrongdoing in James’ lawsuit.

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