Impeachment talk at Trump Org. trial: Did witness misspeak?

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The Trump Organization's criminal tax fraud trial Monday raised questions of impeachment -- not that of former President Donald Trump, which took place twice -- but whether attorneys at his company were out to get their own witness, longtime Trump Accountant Donald Bender to impeach.
Defense attorney Susan Necheles said Bender, a partner at Mazars USA LLP who oversaw tax returns for hundreds of Trump's companies for years, "surprised" her when he testified that he actually didn't do much work on the company's tax returns.
Bender stated that he delegated some work to other company employees.
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"That answer surprised me because it's just not true," Necheles said during a court briefing that took place after Bender and the jury left the courtroom for a lunch break.
Necheles requested permission to confront Bender with records showing he spent more time working on tax returns for Trump Corporation, the company's main subsidiary, than he pursued. But the defense attorney didn't say she wanted to undermine his credibility in front of the jury.
"I don't want to accuse the witness. I don't want to call him a liar," Necheles said. "This is an impeachment of the witness."
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, already angered by the defense for filing a court motion late Sunday night, appeared reluctant to grant Nechele's motion and instructed them to refine their argument over lunch.
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"I believe I bent over backwards to allow both defendants to prepare a defense," Merchan said, referring to Trump Corporation and the other accused subsidiary, Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. As the gatekeeper, Merchan said, "I don't think so, that means I have to let you throw everything at the jury and see what sticks."
The Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump's buildings, golf courses and other assets, is hired to help some top executives avoid income taxes on benefits they receive on top of their salaries, including rent-free apartments and luxury cars. If convicted, the company faces a fine of over $1 million.
Trump has accused Bender of not exposing the scheme, writing on his platform Truth Social: "The highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked up these things - we relied on them." VERY UNFAIR!"
Bender also prepared personal income tax returns for Trump and his wife, former First Lady Melania Trump, his children, and some company executives.
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Former CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, testified early in the trial that he developed the plan himself without Trump or the Trump family knowing. Weisselberg, who testified in a plea deal in exchange for a five-month prison sentence, said the company benefited because it didn't have to pay him as much salary.
Mazars USA LLP has since dropped Trump as a client. In February, the company said the financial statements it prepared "should no longer be relied upon" after New York Attorney General Letitia James's office said the statements routinely misrepresented the value of assets.
James is suing Trump and his company over these allegations.
donald trump
45th President of the United States
Melanie Trump
Former First Lady of the United States

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