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Judge criticizes Trump’s expert witness as he again refuses to toss fraud lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has lost his latest bid to end the business fraud lawsuit he faces in New York as he campaigns to reclaim the White House.

Judge Arthur Engoron issued a written ruling Monday denying the Republican’s latest request for a verdict in his favor in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

And in doing so, the judge dismissed the credibility of one of Trump’s expert witnesses at the trial, a professor who testified that he saw no fraud in the former president’s financial statements.

The trial is centered on allegations Trump and other company officials exaggerated his wealth and inflated the value of his assets to secure loans and close business deals.

In the three-page ruling, Engoron wrote that the “most glaring” flaw of Trump’s argument was to assume that the testimony provided by Eli Bartov, an accounting professor at New York University, and other expert witnesses would be accepted by the court as “true and accurate.”

“Bartov is a tenured professor, but the only thing his testimony proves is that for a million or so dollars, some experts will say whatever you want them to say,” Engoron wrote.

Bartov, who was paid nearly $900,000 for his work on the trial, said in an email that the judge had mischaracterized his testimony.

Trump took to his defense, calling Engoron’s comments about Bartov a “great insult to a man of impeccable character and qualifications” as he excoriated the judge’s decision.

“Judge Engoron challenges the highly respected Expert Witness for receiving fees, which is standard and accepted practice for Expert Witnesses,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social.

During testimony earlier this month, Bartov disputed the attorney general’s claims that Trump’s financial statements were filled with fraudulently inflated values for such signature assets as his Trump Tower penthouse and his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Bartov said there was “no evidence whatsoever of any accounting fraud.”

But Engoron, in his ruling Monday, noted that he had already ruled that there were “numerous obvious errors” in Trump’s financial statements.

“By doggedly attempting to justify every misstatement, Professor Bartov lost all credibility,” the judge wrote.

In an email to The Associated Press, Bartov said he never “remotely implied” at the trial that Trump’s financial statements were “accurate in every respect,” only that the errors were inadvertent and there was “no evidence of concealment or forgery.”

Bartov also argued that he billed Trump at his standard rate.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Jan. 11 in Manhattan.

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Associated Press reporter Michael Sisak in New York contributed to this story.

Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press


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