NEW YORK — Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Leticia James, who are pursuing a massive civil fraud lawsuit against the former president and his business empire, disagree on virtually everything about the case.
But both sides on Thursday recommended the same former federal judge as one of their proposed nominees for the monitor a New York state court judge has ordered to oversee the Trump Organization’s financial decisions.
Barbara Jones served as a judge in the Southern District of New York, where she presided over accounting and securities fraud cases, as well as antitrust and racketeering litigation. Now a partner at Bracewel LLP, she has focused her work on surveillance engagements.
She was the special master appointed to check whether records seized from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen by the FBI were protected by attorney-client privilege. She was also appointed to oversee Charter Communications’ compliance with Federal Communications Commission requirements when the company acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016.
The recommendations stem from a ruling last week by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron after the state attorney general requested a financial comptroller for the Trump Organization. Despite arguments from Trump’s lawyers, Engoron ruled a monitor was warranted to ensure Trump’s companies don’t move financial assets in an attempt to avoid the $250 million maximum penalty that could be imposed. imposed if the Attorney General’s office prevails in the civil suit.
The lawsuit alleges that Trump, his businesses and his three eldest children were part of a 10-year plan ‘that grossly inflated’ the former president’s personal net worth by billions of dollars, then used the highest values to get more favorable loan terms from lenders.
The alleged actions violated New York laws and likely saved Trump, his company and his family more than $150 million from 2011 to 2021, the complaint says.
Trump’s attorneys say there was no wrongdoing because the companies made all the repayments on time, as the lenders received millions of dollars in fees and never complained about the transactions.
In addition to Jones, James’ watch recommendations included Aaron Marcu, partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, and Frances McLeod, founding partner of Forensic Risk Alliance.
Marcu is representing Volkswagen in the automotive giant’s resolution of criminal and regulatory investigations related to diesel emissions from the company’s vehicles.
McLeod is currently Justice Department-appointed comptroller for two cases. One is Balfour Beatty Communities LLC, a housing provider privatized by the US military that has pleaded guilty to a fraudulent scheme. The other involves FCA US LLC, an auto company that pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate US management-labour relations law.
Trump’s attorneys have recommended an additional surveillance candidate, Kelly Donovan, managing director of forensic investigations at KPMG LLP, an accounting and professional services giant. She worked in the New York Attorney General’s office prior to James’ tenure there.
Engoron is expected to appoint the monitor as soon as next week, after the opposing legal teams have had a chance to comment on each other’s recommendations.
However, Trump’s legal team is continuing its battle to overturn Engoron’s decision to appoint a monitor, a move it says could seriously undermine the operations of the Trump Organization. Last week he called the decision to nationalize the company.
Trump appealed the decision to the First Department of the New York State Appeals Division, a mid-level appeals court. In a ruling on Wednesday, Associate Judge Angela M. Mazzarelli denied a request by Trump to block Engoron’s ruling from taking effect while appeals consider whether to overturn the ruling entirely.
Instead, Mazzarelli said Trump’s appeal will be heard by a full court bench later this month on an expedited basis.
►Search Mar-a-Lago:Trump urges appeals court to uphold special master reviewing 11,000 documents seized by FBI at Mar-a-Lago
►Jan. 6:House committee investigating Jan. 6 riot says Trump must start producing records
►2024? :Donald Trump teases Iowa crowd: ‘I will very, very, very likely’ be running for president