The judge overseeing the Trump Organization tax fraud trial expressed exasperation at the longtime company controller's testimony.
Jeffrey McConney, the top lieutenant to chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, alternately claimed ignorance of tax laws or blamed his former boss for various schemes to avoid paying taxes, and Justice Juan Merchan excused the jury and witness to blister defense attorney Susan Necheles, reported The Daily Beast.
“I think it’s pretty clear to the average observer that he is very helpful to you,” Merchan told Necheles. “He has a hard time giving very credible answers.”
Prosecutors joined in, pointing out that McConney was still being paid $450,000 by the company he was testifying against, and which was also paying for his personal defense attorney.
“He basically refuses to speak English on direct examination,” the prosecutor complained. “Now I think it’s fairly clear, both from his demeanor and the answers that he’s giving... that he’s telling her whatever she wants to hear.”
McConney was offered immunity to testify after prosecutors confronted him with evidence showing he helped his colleagues lie on their taxes, and courtroom observers say his courtroom antics could lead prosecutors to revoke that deal.
Weisselberg himself will testify as soon as this week, after pleading guilty in August in exchange for his testimony, as a judge in a lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general appointed a special monitor to keep an eye on the Trump Organization's business operations.