Boring But Pivotal Testimony In Documents Case. May 6 Trump Criminal Trial Update

5 min readMay 6, 2024
Shown to the jury today

Two key witnesses today walked through the documents central to the prosecution’s claims of business fraud in today testimony. Neither witness was a progressive, or Mike Cohen or any liberal of Biden ilk. Nope, they were both financial officers from Trump’s own company. This is a documents case and they were the presenters and explainers of the documents. For the MAGAs demanding from me, “when will they ever actually show anything illegal?” today was that day.

But first we start with yet another criminal contempt of court finding. The days events:

-The day started with another ruling from the judge on the prosecution’s contempt of court motion alleging four counts of violating the gag order. The judge found there is proof beyond reasonable doubt that Trump violated the gag order for one of the four counts asserted by the prosecution. The judge found Trump, for the 10th time, in criminal contempt of court, fined him another $1,000 (the statutory max), ordered him to remove the offending post (one insulting the jury) and strongly warns Trump that future violations may result in incarceration:

The last thing I want to do is put you in jail, You are the former President of the United States and possibly the next President as well. But going forward, this court will have to consider jail sanctions.” -Judge Merchan

-The judge has determined, to the beyond reasonable doubt standard, that Trump has committed a criminal act ten times now. Should be noted that a prior judge concluded Trump violated three criminal laws in the civil fraud case.

-The first new witness this morning was Jeffrey MConney the Controller for the Trump Organization. He is the tenth prosecution witness in the case.

-McConney walked through the payments from Trump and the Organization to Cohen reflected as legal retainer agreement payments.

-McConney stated he never saw any retainer agreement but was told by CFO Weisselberg that the payments were approved. This is documented in an email where Weisselberg states, “Ok to pay as per agreement with Don and Eric.” Should be noted that the defense objected to the admission of the document (the objection was overruled) so the jury knows the defense did not want them to see it. That’s a mistake.

-McConney stated that the payments to Cohen were designed to double the amount he paid to Stormy Daniels so Cohen would break even after taxes. In addition they included a bonus for services provided in the prior year. In addition the payments to Cohen included paying him back for money used rig pre-election polls in Trump’s favor.

-McConney explains how the payments shifted to checks to Cohen personally signed by Trump but still reflected on the company’s books as business expenses for the non-existent legal retainer.

-McConney processed the $35,000 payments to Cohen even when Cohen’s “invoice” stated no amount at all, vaguely referenced a never seen retainer agreement, and was sandwiched inside emails on unrelated matters. Other “invoices” were simply obvious copy and pastes from prior ones.

-Prosecutors presented the general ledger from the Trump Organization, and McConney walked through it for the jury, showing the jury how the payments to Cohen were recorded with a code reserved for “legal expenses.”

-This is a documents case and McConney’s testimony walked through the documents, invoices, business ledger entries and checks to Cohen, that the prosecutors allege are fraudulent. It was pretty boring stuff but it is the heart of the actual crimes alleged.

-McConney walks through a 1099 tax form for Cohen claiming the company paid him $420,000 for legal services. That document too is false and part of the scheme because some of that money was repaying Cohen what he paid Daniels. As such it should not have been income to him because he had no net income gain.

-McConney walked through a 2018 FEC filing where Trump admitted to repaying Cohen’s improper campaign contribution saying Cohen was “fully reimbursed” in 2017. This is compelling evidence that even Trump recognized Cohen’s payment to Daniels was a campaign contribution. Once again Trump’s lawyers objected to the admission of this document communicating to the jury that they did not want the jury to see it. This FEC filing should lead to an obvious question. If Trump told the FEC he was repaying a debt they owed Cohen, why did Trump Org produce a 1099 saying the same money was income to Cohen?

-On cross examination McConney states he did not talk to Trump often, and never about Cohen, and never talked to Cohen about these issues. Again, McConney’s testimony was all about the documents, not conversations.

-On cross McConney states that Trump often treated the General Ledger described above “like his personal checkbook” and that it sometimes included costs for housing or education for his children.

-As if to emphasize my point, McConney stated on cross that grossing up the payment to cover taxes didn’t make sense because “an expense reimbursement is not taxable.” I’m not sure why defense counsel wanted to get that out. Wow.

-On redirect McConney states he was never told what the payments to Cohen were for. That wrapped up McConney’s very damaging testimony.

-Next up to the witness stand was Deborah Tarasoff, supervisor of the Accounts Payable Department for Trump Org. She testified that she has worked in that department for 24 years.

-Tarasoff testified that after 2015 (so during the time at issue) all invoices of more than $10,000 had to be approved by Trump or one of his sons.

-She testified that Trump would often refuse to sign checks because he questioned the invoice. As noted above, Trump personally signed many of the repayment checks to Cohen.

-Tarasoff’s testimony is in many ways repetitive to McConney’s as she walks through payments to Cohen and how they were reflected as business expenses on Trump Org’s books.

-About all the defense accomplished on cross ex was to get Tarasoff to admit that Trump was busy in 2017 being President and that he left many things to his sons. That was in an effort to undo some of the damage from the dual testimony today that Trump signed checks to Cohen and was involved and aware of what was going on.

With that her testimony ended as did testimony for the day. Testimony will start with a new witness tomorrow morning. At the end of business today the judge asked the prosecution how much longer they believe presenting their case will take. The prosecution said two weeks from tomorrow is a rough estimate.




Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80