‘The Court’s request for comment on this speculative media account is unprecedented, inappropriate, and troubling,’ Defense attorney Cliff Robert wrote.
State attorney Kevin Wallace, representing the New York Attorney General’s office, told the judge presiding over the Trump Organization fraud case that they are not aware of a perjury plea deal in the works.
Last week, the New York Times reported that sources say former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg is now in negotiations with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for a plea deal that would require him to admit to perjury on the witness stand in the fraud case.
Former President Donald Trump is a defendant in both cases; the New York Attorney General has accused him and other Trump Organization executives of fraud in a civil case that could dissolve his real estate empire, and the Manhattan District Attorney has charged him with 37 counts related to mishandling business documents in a criminal case.
After the report, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron asked both parties to weigh in.
“I would also appreciate knowing how you think I should address this matter, if at all, including the timing of the final decision.”
Mr. Wallace said the team on the fraud case had no knowledge of such a plea deal, but acknowledged that there are other attorneys in the office who may in fact be involved and cross-designated to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
He urged the judge to issue final judgment without delay, because waiting the determination of perjury was “unnecessary for a number of reasons.”
Mr. Wallace argued that the judge already knows Mr. Weisselberg “cannot be relied upon” because his testimony had been contradicted by others, and “was simply not credible.”
“There should be no further delay as a result of this development because there is no fixed period of time for any potential perjury issues to be resolved,” the letter reads. “Negotiations over a potential plea agreement could go on indefinitely.”
Defense Attorneys Respond
Defense attorneys would be required to disclose perjury if they are aware of it, but defense attorney Alina Habba, representing Mr. Weisselberg in a civil case, said she is not involved in the criminal case.
“Further, Mr. Weisselberg is entitled to a presumption of innocence,” she added, arguing it would be “wholly improper” for the judge to presume guilt based on anonymous sources’ claims in a news article.
Justice Engoron had written to the parties that the perjury claim could lead him to regard Mr. Weisselberg as falsus in uno, meaning if he lied in one case he could have lied about everything. Ms. Habba argued there was no legal basis for this and that it would be inappropriate.
Defense attorney Cliff Robert, representing Trump Organizations executive vice presidents Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, likewise criticized the judge for relying on “rumors.”
“Indeed, we respectfully submit that the Court’s request for comment on this speculative media account is unprecedented, inappropriate, and troubling,” he wrote.
“First, after more than three years of investigation, millions of pages of documents produced in discovery, countless depositions, and a three-month trial, the record in this case is closed. The only evidence that the Court can consider in rendering its decision is that adduced during the trial.”
He added that the court lacks “legal authority” to take “judicial notice” of news articles, and the judge’s interest in such a speculative story called into question his impartiality.
Mr. Robert also pointed out that the state’s witness Michael Cohen had admitted to lying before a federal judge previously and admitted to lying under oath multiple times while testifying before Justice Engoron, but was not held in falsus in uno.