NEW YORK — A prominent New York University accounting professor who blasted the state’s civil fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump as “absurd” testified that the former president and his political action committee have so far paid him $877,500 for his work as an expert witness on the case.
Eli Bartov, who has spent two days testifying in Trump’s defense in Manhattan, said Friday that he has worked about 650 hours on the case at an hourly rate of $1,350 to rebut claims brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Bartov, under questioning by one of Trump’s lawyers, said that he “did not find any evidence of material misstatement” in the former president’s financial statements and “no evidence whatsoever for any accounting fraud.”
Trump is accused of inflating the value of his assets on his annual statements of financial condition by billions of dollars a year to get better terms on loans from Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders, reaping $250 million in illegal profit over more than a decade. It’s one of six trials Trump faces as he seeks to return to the White House in the 2024 election. He denies wrongdoing in all of them.
Bartov’s testimony supported Trump’s claim that the documents weren’t fraudulent. But New York state judge Arthur Engoron in September found Trump liable for fraud before the trial started, ruling he wildly inflated the value of his properties. State lawyers have previously said they don’t need to prove lenders were harmed — only that Trump knowingly gave them false documents.
Bartov, who is scheduled to resume testimony Tuesday, has been especially combative during his time on the stand. On Friday, he frequently interrupted state lawyer Louis Solomon and talked over the judge. When Solomon began his cross-examination, he showed Bartov a document outlining accepted accounting practices, asking him if the Trump Organization followed the rules.
“Listen! You — are you going to deceive the judge?” Bartov shouted.
Trump lawyer Chris Kise jumped to Bartov’s defense, blaming Solomon. “We’ve only been here 15 minutes and his tone and demeanor are entirely harassing!” Kise said of the state’s lawyer. “He needs to ask questions and not be so hostile.”
Engoron tried to wrest back control, telling the witness, “We have rules here,” Engoron said. “He asks the questions, you answer. No speeches.”
The trial resumes Monday with Trump returning to the stand in his defense.
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