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Trump Organization fraud trial adjourns for week after witness tests positive for COVID

(DENVER) — The tax fraud trial against former President Donald Trump’s namesake company has paused just one day after it began when the first witness on the stand tested positive for COVID-19.

Jeff McConney, the Trump Organization’s controller, tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday after informing the court he wasn’t feeling well. McConney was on the witness stand for a second day at the criminal trial of the former president’s family business.

The judge adjourned the trial until Monday.

The contours of the criminal case against Trump’s company took shape Monday when McConney was shown entries from the Trump Organization’s general ledger.

McConney, who has been employed by the Trump Organization for 35 years, was shown entries for lease payments on former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg’s Mercedes Benz, which prosecutors have said were part of Weisselberg’s compensation that was never accounted for on taxes.

Weisselberg has already pleaded guilty to tax evasion in connection with the case. The organization has pleaded not guilty and the former president is not on trial himself.

On Monday, McConney described his close relationship with Weisselberg, to whom he reported “from the day I started” at the Trump Organization until the day Weisselberg stopped being chief financial officer following his arrest. The two had lunch daily and attended each other’s family events.

McConney faced a number of questions about the company’s accounting as prosecutors seek to show certain documents and records were altered to help Weisselberg and other executives evade taxes during a 15-year period beginning in 2005.

In opening statements, the defense said whatever actions were taken by Weisselberg were done for his benefit only and not for the benefit of the company.

“Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg,” defense attorney Michael van der Veen said during opening statements.

McConney testified he remains employed by the Trump Organization, making $450,000 per year in salary and benefits. The company is paying for his attorney and McConney conceded he met with the defense Sunday to discuss his testimony.

“He’s a textbook adverse witness,” prosecutor Josh Steinglass said.

Judge Juan Merchan declined to declare McConney a hostile witness, which would have allowed prosecutors to ask more leading questions.

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