'This is truly a joke': Trump lawyer blasts independent monitor's report ahead of fraud trial ruling

A defense lawyer compared the court-appointed monitor to Javert from Les Miz.

January 29, 2024, 6:04 PM

Trump attorney Clifford Robert on Monday blasted a report issued last week by the former judge appointed to monitor the Trump Organization as an inaccurate depiction of the firm's finances intended to justify the continued oversight of the company.

Robert criticized the report in a scathing letter to the judge overseeing Trump's civil fraud trial, in which Trump is accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of inflating his net worth in order to get more favorable loan terms. Trump has denied all wrongdoing, and a ruling in the case is expected at any time.

In a statement to ABC News, Trump attorney Chris Kise accused the report by independent monitor Barbara Jones of exaggerating immaterial issues in the Trump Organization's finances to "fill the gaping hole in the Attorney General's case" and justify the $2.6 million in fees collected by Jones.

"This is truly a joke," Kise told ABC News. "Indeed, it is shocking that President Trump has been forced to pay millions for a Monitor to prove what he has said from the outset, namely, there is no financial reporting misconduct, no fraud and simply no basis for this abusive process to continue."

Jones was appointed to serve as the Trump Organization's independent monitor by Judge Arthur Engoron in November 2022 at the recommendation of both Trump's lawyers and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Citing their smooth interactions with Jones over the course of her monitorship, both parties subsequently recommended Jones last September to serve as the receiver to oversee the dissolution of the Trump Organization's LLCs as ordered in Engoron's partial summary judgment order.

Jones' report, issued on Friday at the request of Judge Engoron ahead of his expected ruling in Trump's civil fraud trial, found that the Trump Organization has been cooperative, implemented some changes, and issued necessary corrections to financial statements; however, the report also outlined multiple errors and misstatements observed by Jones over her 14 months as the company's monitor.

Robert, in his letter Monday to the court, said, "The Monitor now twists immaterial accounting items into a narrative favoring her continued appointment, and thereby the continued receipt of millions of dollars in excessive fees," arguing that her report represented an "unacceptable level of disingenuity."

Pedestrians walk past the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City on, Jan. 9, 2024.
Jimin Kim/Sopa Images/Sipa USA via AP

Robert added that Jones' report merely rehashed issues previously resolved by the Trump Organization, and said that many of the items -- including incomplete disclosures, clerical mistakes, and other issues -- were "immaterial discrepancies and simple math errors."

"The Monitor was not appointed to identify math errors or otherwise sensationalize minor and inconsequential accounting discrepancies scattered throughout the financial reports of the over 400 companies comprising the Defendants' global enterprise," Robert wrote.

Jones, in her report, wrote that, "It is important to note that the Trump Organization acknowledged the disclosure issues described after I brought them to its attention and has been open to recommendations to improve accuracy and transparency."

However, wrote Jones, "it does not appear that there are adequate accounting and presentation standards, procedures, or training associated with the preparation of financial disclosures. To the extent adequate standards and procedures do exist, they do not appear to have been followed across the organization."

Robert, in his letter, noted that Jones' report failed to identify any fraud, misconduct, or suspicious activity to support the ongoing oversight of the Trump Organization.

Contending that Jones' monitorship serves "no demonstrable purpose going forward," Robert argued that the Jones' report included an "unabashedly self-serving statement" that "misstatements and errors may continue to occur," in order to justify her continued role as monitor.

Comparing Jones to Inspector Javert -- the fictional antagonist from Les Misérables -- Robert argued that Jones' role has amounted to "expensive and meaningless ongoing oversight."

"Further oversight is unwarranted and will only unjustly enrich the Monitor as she engages in some 'Javert' like quest against the Defendants," Robert wrote.

The New York attorney general's office decline to comment to ABC News.

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