Trump defense expert witnesses charged nearly $900,000 each to testify on his behalf in fraud trial

new York — Former President Donald Trump sat intently in the courtroom of his civil fraud trial in New York on Thursday, watching as the defense’s final expert witness, Eli Bartow, declared there was “no evidence whatsoever of accounting fraud.”

On Friday, Bartow revealed that he earned an estimated $877,500 for his expert testimony in that case — charging $1,350 an hour for about 650 hours of work. When questioned by New York state attorneys about who was paying him, Bartow said his bank statements showed some of the money was paid by the Trump Organization and some came from Trump’s Save America PAC.

The discussion of Bartov’s compensation came shortly after one of Trump’s lawyers, Alina Khaba, expressed her frustration to Judge Engoron about objections made by the attorney general’s team.

“Why are we wasting our time if no one listens to the words coming out of the mouths of our experts?” asked Haba.

Another defense expert witness, Frederick Chinn, who testified earlier in the week about real estate appraisals, admitted he charged $850 an hour for 1,000 hours of work, totaling $850,000. The state’s only expert witness, Michael McCarthy, admitted he was paid $950 an hour but worked far fewer hours, estimating he earned about $350,000 for his testimony.

Those rates provide a glimpse into the high costs of just one of Trump’s many legal battles, a set of criminal and civil challenges that Save America The PAC spent $40 million in the first half of this year alone.

Trump remained in the courthouse all day for Thursday’s hearing and spoke periodically outside the courtroom throughout the day, several times praising Bartow, an accounting professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and his testimony.

“This is a disgraceful situation. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Trump said. “But this expert witness, highly respected by everyone, with a resume that few people have seen before, said there was no fraud, no accounting fraud, no nothing.”

He later praised Bartov’s credentials as “a leading expert, a leading personality, a person who sits on the Pulitzer committee, a most respected person, the Stern School, New York University, a top professor, a very honest person who, among other things ( f) very honorable,” and said, “If he didn’t agree, he wouldn’t have said what he said. And he said these were incredible loans. I didn’t even need the money.”

Bartov himself appeared to be a tailor-made witness for the former president in his glowing evaluations of Trump’s financial statements.

“I’ve never seen a statement that provides so much detail and is so transparent,” he said. “Footnotes provide a great amount of information.”

The professor also said that if the statements were submitted as a project in his class, “they would get an A.”

State attorneys expressed skepticism about Bartow’s findings, leading to some heated moments in the courtroom.

“This is pure speculation by someone they’ve hired to say exactly what they want in this case,” attorney Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the state attorney general, said during an objection to Bartow’s testimony Thursday.

Trump’s lawyer Jesus Suarez responded: “Oh, that sucks, man.”

“That’s right,” said Wallace.

“Very rough,” Suarez said.

Bartow then yelled at Wallace, “You should be ashamed of yourself for talking like that. You are making up claims that never existed. There is no evidence of that.”

In his testimony, Bartow strongly disputed the merits of the lawsuit filed by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, saying it was unfounded from an accounting perspective. He said Trump’s use of disclaimers in his financial statements made it clear that lenders should do their own due diligence and played down the inconsistencies in the financial statements, explaining that lenders are expected to make their own independent assessments.

“For me, the case is not about grades. It’s about statements of financial terms,” ​​Judge Engoron said during a tense call with Trump’s lawyers on Friday. “You cannot use false statements in business. That was the purpose of the summary judgment. I think that was pretty much the rest of the case.”

Judge Engoron ruled before the trial that Trump and the other defendants were liable for fraud in a partial summary judgment. Trump, his two older sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and their company are accused of inflating the value of assets in key financial records to get lucrative loans and insurance deals. They denied wrongdoing in the case.

Trump, who already testified last month, is due back in court on Monday, December 11.

Bartov’s questioning is expected to resume on Tuesday, when the case comes to an end.

— Graham Cates contributed to this report.

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