The judge in a civil fraud trial said that Trump’s million-dollar expert “lost all credibility”
In the New York civil fraud trial involving former U.S. President Donald Trump, an expert witness hired by Trump, Eli Bartov, faced significant criticism from the judge overseeing the case.
Bartov, a New York University accounting professor, was compensated nearly $1 million for his testimony and services, amounting to approximately $877,500 based on his hourly rate and the hours spent on the case.
His testimony was intended to defend the accuracy of financial statements from Trump’s family real estate company, which were alleged by the New York State Attorney General to overstate property values for favorable loan and insurance terms.
Justice Arthur Engoron, however, stated that Bartov’s efforts to justify every misstatement led to him losing “all credibility.” Engoron’s scathing remarks were part of his denial of several requests by Trump for a favorable decision in the case. Engoron wrote, “All that his testimony proves is that for a million or so dollars, some experts will say whatever you want them to say”.
Bartov defended his testimony, claiming that no other expert had rebutted his findings or identified fraud in the statements. He emphasized that his billing rate was standard and did not influence his opinion.
The trial, which primarily revolved around damages, followed a ruling by Engoron that Trump and his adult sons had manipulated financial statements to deceive banks and insurers.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump from participating in the New York state real estate business. Engoron acknowledged that property valuations can be subjective, but he emphasized that Trump’s statements contained material misstatements, noting, “A lie is still a lie”.
Closing arguments for the trial were scheduled for January 11. In addition to this civil case, Trump also faces four state and federal criminal indictments, including charges related to his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all these charges