The New York Times reported on Tuesday that people familiar with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s investigation of former President Donald Trump and his corporation, the Trump Organization, believe that CFO Allen Weisselberg might be indicted as soon as this summer.
Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and ex-federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told MSNBC anchor Joy Reid that this is going to hit Weisselberg like a ton of bricks.
According to Kirschner, the evidence should worry Trump because it increases the likelihood that Weisselberg will take a plea agreement and hang Trump out to dry.
Reid wondered whether Trump might walk away from the lawsuit without penalties if he could successfully pin it all on Weisselberg. Katyal said that he did not believe so.
“We’ll have to study this new reporting by the New York Times, but to me, it looks like the first domino for Donald Trump is starting to fall,” said Katyal. “And this has been an inexorable path since the Supreme Court, 9-0, said Trump Tax returns have to be turned over, so these financial records that you’re seeking about Trump are now in the hands of prosecutors. We know that those New York prosecutors have convened a grand jury. They’re going to sit for six months, three days a week.”
He also said that prosecutors sent a warning letter to the Trump Organization, referring to the inquiry as a criminal one. Prosecutors just need to inform Weisselberg what will happen if he does not comply.
“I think prosecutors here know one other thing, which is that Allen Weisselberg knows where all the keys to the kingdom are,” Katyal continued. “He knows everything. So, most normal companies have a compliance office that deals with all these questions. Not the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization’s compliance office was basically, like, a giant sharpie drawing of the presidential seal or something like that. So, it’s really all up to Weisselberg. And so, if they can flip Weisselberg, and I suspect they can because of that dynamic that Michael Cohen was just revealing, this kind of prisoner’s dilemma where if Weisselberg doesn’t cooperate, he’s got to worry that Trump may turn on him. Each of them has to worry about that and that becomes a race to get information and that’s why I think ultimately bad news for Trump.”
According to four people familiar with prosecutors’ thinking, Weisselberg, was suspected of lying in testimony during their investigation of former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen three years ago.
Despite their suspicions, federal prosecutors did not pursue perjury charges against Weisselberg; however, his previous interactions with them may now be relevant to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is seeking his cooperation in a tax fraud case brought against Weisselberg and the company last month.
All eyes are on Weisselberg as the investigation continues to see if he will turn against his longtime boss, former President Donald Trump.
However, as the federal prosecutors have already discovered, any help from Weisselberg could be a mixed gift. Weisselberg has denied any misconduct in the tax fraud inquiry and anything related to the Cohen issue.
Cohen was charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan in 2018, in part for his participation in providing hush money to women who claimed to have had romances with Trump (he has denied the affairs).
Prosecutors granted Weisselberg limited immunity throughout the inquiry because he was involved in the company’s attempt to reimburse Cohen for the hush-money payments, an issue that has also been investigated by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
CNN reports that according to persons familiar with the situation, federal prosecutors ended up reconsidering their decision to grant Weisselberg immunity.
Prosecutors considered whether to seek perjury charges after learning that Weisselberg misled in his testimony, as well as whether to revoke his immunity, according to a source familiar with the situation.
According to two people familiar with the inquiry, prosecutors were skeptical of Weisselberg’s evidence, particularly his explanation of how the firm reimbursed Cohen and labeled it in the company’s books as legal fees. According to reports, Weisselberg wasn’t the only Trump Organization official whose testimony investigators questioned.
When prosecutors charged Cohen, they observed in the court documents that the reimbursements were “accounted for as legal expenses” by the corporation, but the invoices Cohen presented “weren’t in relation with any legal services he had given in 2017.”
Prosecutors face a difficult task in showing that the information given was fraudulent and that the witness knew it when they testified.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote a memo in the spring of 2019 casting doubt on the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ application of campaign finance charges in the Cohen case, a move that was seen by some in the Manhattan office as an attempt to prevent similar charges being pursued against anyone else involved in the episode. According to one individual familiar with the investigation, others in the office did not believe Weisselberg was vulnerable to such charges.
Prosecutors finally chose not to prosecute Weisselberg or strip him of his immunity.
Mary Mulligan, a lawyer for Weisselberg, said, “Allen fully cooperated with the SDNY’s thorough inquiry. Michael Cohen was charged with campaign finance and tax offenses by the SDNY, but the inquiry was ended more than two years ago.”
The current investigation into Weisselberg by the Manhattan district attorney stems from a federal investigation into how the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen for the hush-money payments, which continued after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance crimes related to the payments in 2018. It’s unclear whether federal prosecutors alerted the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Weisselberg had misled in court.
Federal prosecutors told the judge in Cohen’s case in a July 2019 court filing that the Manhattan US attorney’s office had “effectively concluded its investigations of (1) who, besides Michael Cohen, was involved in and may be criminally liable for the two campaign finance violations to which Cohen pled guilty” and whether certain people, whose names were redacted, “made false statement.”
According to one individual acquainted with the situation, Weisselberg was one of the people the office investigated for such behavior.
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have been charged by the Manhattan district attorney with a 15-year tax scheme dating back to 2005 “to compensate Weisselberg and other Trump Organization officials in a manner that was ‘off the books.’”
Weisselberg was the main subject of the indictment. District attorney prosecutors frequently sought his cooperation in the months preceding up to the charges as a possible method to bring the probe closer to Trump himself.
Trump Prison Aug Thread /3
Weisselberg has first hearing Sept 20
Giuliani, awaits Special Master ruling. Then arrest Aug
Matt Gaetz, indictment around Nov/Dec
Roger Stone prelim late 2021, early 2022
Tom Barrack expected first court hearing October (no date yet) pic.twitter.com/zBqDTi9soL
— Tomi Ahonen Twice Impeached President of the World (@tomiahonen) August 9, 2021
The investigation is still underway. Prosecutors are investigating whether the Trump Organization defrauded insurers and lenders by misrepresenting the worth of specific properties on financial statements, among other things.
If Weisselberg tries to assist the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation, he will be forced to be truthful in his testimony or face perjury charges in addition to the other alleged offenses for which he is being investigated.
SDNY prosecutors suspected Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg lied when he testified @ hush money payments & considered charging him. They didn’t. It could be relevant as the Manhattan DA seeks his cooperation in its ongoing investigation. story w/ @eordenhttps://t.co/rCQu42IXY4
— Kara Scannell (@KaraScannell) August 11, 2021
Weisselberg told the district attorney’s office before he was indicted that he didn’t want to assist, and he hasn’t changed his mind after being charged.
The Trump Organization and Weisselberg have both pled not guilty to the accusations.
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