Trump Organization and its CFO Indicted

A big shoe has dropped.

WaPo (“N.Y. grand jury said to return criminal indictments against Trump’s company and its CFO, the first from prosecutors probing the former president’s business dealings“):

A grand jury in Manhattan filed criminal indictments Wednesday against former president Donald Trump’s company and its longtime chief financial officer, according to two people familiar with the indictments.

The indictments against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, will remain sealed until Thursday afternoon, leaving the specific charges against them unclear. Earlier Wednesday, people familiar with the case said the charges were related to allegations of unpaid taxes on benefits for Trump Organization executives.

Weisselberg is expected to surrender Thursday morning at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), two people familiar with the plan said. He is expected to be arraigned later in the day in front of a state court judge. The Trump Organization will also be arraigned, represented in court by one of its attorneys.

The criminal charges against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg are the first to result from the investigations by Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and represent a dramatic turn in the long-running probes.

Attorneys for both the Trump Organization and Weisselberg declined to comment Wednesday.

During an interview Wednesday night with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Trump called the myriad investigations — and, earlier, impeachments — of him “all nonsense.”

“New York radical left prosecutors come after me — you gotta fight,” he said.

Spokespeople for Vance and James — who teamed up to investigate Trump’s business dealings this year after years of working on separate tracks — also declined to comment.

On Wednesday afternoon, Vance was seen heading into the lower Manhattan building where the grand jury sits three days a week, accompanied by Carey Dunne, the office’s general counsel and one of the most senior attorneys on the prosecution team. Vance left the building nearly three hours later with a member of his security detail. He did not respond to a question from a reporter as he left his office for the day later Wednesday.

NYT (“Trump Organization and Top Executive Are Indicted in Tax Investigation“) adds:

A grand jury in Manhattan has indicted Donald J. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, and one of its top executives in connection with a tax investigation into fringe benefits handed out at the company, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The specific charges against the company and its chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, were not immediately clear. The indictment was expected to be unsealed Thursday afternoon after Mr. Weisselberg and lawyers for the Trump Organization appear in court.

But prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office have been examining bonuses and luxury perks that Mr. Weisselberg received — including an apartment in Manhattan, leased Mercedes-Benz cars and private school tuition for at least one of his grandchildren — and whether taxes should have been paid on those benefits.

A follow-up report, “Top Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Surrenders to Face Charges,” notes how rapidly things are moving:

Donald J. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, surrendered on Thursday to the Manhattan district attorney’s office as he and the Trump Organization prepared to face charges in connection with a tax investigation, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The exact charges were not yet known. Prosecutors were expected to unseal an indictment later in the day against Mr. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, the real estate business that catapulted Mr. Trump to tabloid fame, television riches and ultimately, the White House.

Mr. Weisselberg, accompanied by his lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, walked into the Lower Manhattan building that houses the criminal courts and the district attorney’s office about 6:20 a.m. He is expected to appear in court in the afternoon along with representatives of the Trump Organization.

It’s interesting that Trump himself has thus far escaped indictment but, given that it’s an ongoing investigation by both the state and city, it could still be forthcoming.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Call me when they are behind bars.

    ReplyReply
    11
  2. Michael Cain says:

    So there will be a million or two dollars on which taxes should have been paid, but weren’t. $100,000 in taxes? $200,000? Plus penalties and interest, the whole thing negotiated down for a lump-sum settlement. Weisselberg can put up a GoFundMe (or similar, if GoFundMe has standards) and raise it in a couple of months.

    I have to admit that I didn’t think the DA would pursue an actual indictment unless they had a pretty solid handle on tens/hundreds of millions of dollars in money laundering.

    ReplyReply
    2
  3. charon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    You don’t know what they have and this is just the first shoe dropping.

    ReplyReply
    5
  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    On the one hand, yay.

    On the other hand, I remember the excitement around the Mueller investigation, and how that turned out.

    ReplyReply
    6
  5. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    On the other hand, I remember the excitement around the Mueller investigation, and how that turned out.

    This should be the dominant hand.

    I won’t crack a smile, on this matter, until I see the Ass himself charged.

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  6. charon says:

    @Kathy:

    I wonโ€™t crack a smile, on this matter, until I see the Ass himself charged.

    If Trump Org. gets indicted, all the resorts, golf courses etc. lose their liquor licenses which makes them pretty non-viable. Also, lenders likely to call in loans.

    Trump would likely not find any of that very entertaining.

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    6
  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    This feels like a bit of a nothing burger, to be honest. I await further developments, but this indictment likely won’t be enough to get Weisselberg to flip. I would imagine that Mr. Weisselberg is in genuine fear for his life and the lives of his kids. The Trump Organization is not a business, it’s a crime syndicate – a crime syndicate backed by Vladimir Putin, who can absolutely have people killed – as we’ve seen. And if the GRU isn’t scary enough there’s all of the Trump Culties.

    On the one hand: a fine, maybe some minor time. OTOH a convenient ‘suicide.’

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    2
  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He brought a heavy hitter with him. Mary is one of the best in the business with respect to white collar fraud. I know her from the SDNY, she’s a killer.

    ReplyReply
    2
  9. Teve says:

    Journalists on Twitter are saying this is the first of several shoes that are about to drop.

    ReplyReply
    1
  10. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    If she’s defending Weisselberg, does that mean she’ll encourage him to flip?

    I take it you don’t mean that she’ll successfully defend Weiseelberg, but I await enlightenment. ๐Ÿ™‚

    ReplyReply
  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    She will viciously defend him right up until the second when / if it’s in his best interest to cut a deal. At that point she will get the best deal she can, which would I expect to be a whopper. She’s a former AUSA from the fraud / financial crime unit. Very good at her job.

    I’m frankly curious about who is paying her rather substantial rate, to be honest.

    ReplyReply
  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Put another way, almost nobody believes Weisselberg is the player they want. He’s the one they could get to at this point. He’s a pawn being moved on the board. She’s well aware of how the game is played. There were few better at playing it from the prosecutorial side than she was. If there is a deal to be made, she’ll make it, and it’ll be a doozie.

    ReplyReply
    2
  13. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Thanks. Well, I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that Trump isn’t paying her fee, not because he wants to stay on Weisselberg’s good side, but because he’s notorious for stiffing everyone.

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Oh, it’s clear to me that Weisselberg is the chum being used as bait for a much bigger fish. Something in favor of Weisselberg flipping is that the man has to know by now that Trump will throw anyone to the wolves.

    ReplyReply
    3
  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It always was a nothing burger–with no fries and tepid water in a leaky cup to boot. That’s all it was ever going to be, too. If you want FG in an orange jumpsuit at Club Fed, come up with someone who will make money from it happening. As long as there’s no money to be made by the owners of capital, they’re not going to give a [expletive, deleted] about what he did. If they don’t, the courts don’t either. The courts will go through the motions because their job is to serve the nothing burger deal.

    ReplyReply
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  15. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Maybe Trump won’t ever be fitted for an orange jumpsuit, but an indictment very likely means the death of the Trump Org., which is already over one billion dollars in debt. If you charge an organization with a crime, the banks will immediately start calling in their loans.

    Okay, call me a cockeyed optimist.

    ReplyReply
  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Usually depends on the firm. They paid us every dime we ever billed, probably because he knew what would happen if they didn’t. I’m up in the air on who’s paying her, but stiffing FriedKap would be a bad idea. They’re all heavy hitter litigators, the whole fricking firm. They’d eat him for lunch.

    Probably so. That said, Weisselberg is the consigliere. He’s been around since Fred and knows where all of the bodies are buried. A Cohen you can toss into the Hudson, but he’s the guy you want to keep happy.

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  17. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    According to TPM, Weisselberg refused to cooperate with the investigation.

    Also from TPM: Trump cheered when Weisselberg and the Trump Org. were indicted, because “this is going to hurt Sleepy Joe.”

    ReplyReply
  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Indictment has a way of changing people’s minds ๐Ÿ˜€

    I think we’ll know more once they’ve unsealed the indictment later today. NYS law is pretty nasty when it comes to tax shenanigans, so he could be looking at a bad scenario. Rock / hard place.

    ReplyReply
  19. mattbernius says:

    The first 10 minutes of this week’s episode of All the Presidents’ Lawyers dives into this topic in detail. I personally recommend it as I think that its a fair take on the situation. It’s unlikely that Trump will be convicted on this. The bigger question is what happens financially to the Trump Organization if the government can prove its case.

    https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/lrc-presents-all-the-presidents-lawyers/the-atpl-xl-ask-us-anything-show

    ReplyReply
  20. Neil J Hudelson says:

    No news on the Trump Org charges, but the DA is saying Weisselberg dodged $1.7 Million in income taxes over 15 years.

    @HarvardLaw92:

    On a scale of “nothing burger” to “oh sh!t oh no” where does $1.7 Million in dodged taxes fall wrt NYS tax shenanigans?

    ETA:
    Weisselberg, Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree
    Trump Org: Scheme to Defraud in the 1st Degree

    ADA Carey Dunne also mentions that the tax fraud scheme was orchestrated by “the most senior executives.” Plural.

    Here’s the indictment: https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/20982368/new-york-v-trump-org-allen-weisselberg.pdf

    ReplyReply
  21. CSK says:

    The Trump Org. was charged with “a sweeping 15-year scheme to help executives avoid paying taxes by compensating them off the books.”

    Per the NYTimes.

    ReplyReply
  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    Tbh that’s a tad confusing given the overall value they’re citing.

    GL2 has a finite ceiling of 1M, penalty for which is up to 15 years and fines if sought and imposed. Usually in tax cases the trial court will mandate restitution (to the state) as well. It’s a Class C felony.

    I haven’t read the indictment yet. Are they alledging multiple counts of GL2?

    ReplyReply
  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    Nevermind the above. I just read it. He’s charged with:

    Scheme to defraud, 1st
    Conspiracy, 4th
    GL2
    Criminal Tax Fraud 3rd, 3 counts
    Criminal tax fraud 4th
    Filing a false instrument 1st, 4 counts
    Falsifying business records 1st, 4 counts.

    That’s 11 Class E felonies, 3 class D felonies, and a class C felony. He’s in serious trouble.

    ReplyReply
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  24. Kathy says:

    What are the odds Bruce Castor will run for Manhattan DA?

    ReplyReply
  25. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Thatโ€™s 11 Class E felonies, 3 class D felonies, and a class C felony. Heโ€™s in serious trouble.

    He is, but how much of this ends up implicating Trump?

    Perhaps the last few years have just created incredible cynicism in me, but I just see Trump getting away with it. All of it. Because somehow he always does.

    ReplyReply
  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    He’d have to move to NY and pass the NY bar exam first. NY doesn’t consider PA a reciprocal state. Odds are zero.

    ReplyReply
  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    That’s the game in play. Weisselberg is the key to implicating Trump. This is the opening gambit, IMO.

    The short answer is: it depends on how willing Weisselberg is to throw his boss under the bus.

    ReplyReply
  28. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Thanks. When I first posted I hadn’t read the indictment, only what was being reported on twitter from journalists on the scene.

    ReplyReply
  29. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    An unnamed aide to Trump claims Trump is “thrilled” by the charges (because they’re “light”) and feels “emboldened”.

    ReplyReply
  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    No worries. I had to speed read it myself. Reporters always leave out a lot.

    They’re playing hardball with Weisselberg to entice him to flip, IMO. He’s looking at a absolute bare minimum of 15 years in prison. More likely outcome would be 20 to 35 if convicted on all counts, along with nasty fines and repaying the defrauded taxes. He’d be broke and die in prison. I think he’ll cut a deal. He’s a fool if he doesn’t.

    ReplyReply
  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Bluster and theater. He’s shitting his pants right about now.

    ReplyReply
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  32. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Thatโ€™s the game in play. Weisselberg is the key to implicating Trump. This is the opening gambit, IMO.

    That’s what we hope. that’s not necessarily what’s going to happen.

    ReplyReply
  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    True. Crystal balls don’t always work. Given what he’s facing, I think he’ll break. I’d be surprised if the DA’s office hasn’t already made the approach. We’ll have to see how it plays out. Best show in town though ๐Ÿ™‚

    ReplyReply
  34. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I sincerely hope so. I would think that having to repay all those outstanding loans suddenly coming due would terrify him. Unless there’s some way he can wiggle out of that the way he did his previous bankruptcies.

    ReplyReply
  35. CSK says:

    @CSK:
    Deleted. Repetition.

    ReplyReply
  36. Kathy says:

    We’ve been through this before. The Mueller Report, the first impeachment, the second impeachment, the Cohen tapes, etc.

    Lucy always takes the football away.

    ReplyReply
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  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    My bet is that if Weisselberg flips, repaying loans will be the least of his worries. My dream is enough info being delivered to invoke the enterprise corruption statute against the company. Shooting for the stars, no doubt, but it’s nice to think about.

    ReplyReply
  38. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    It occurred to me that if Weisselberg flips, he may end up admitting to some things he himself did that are even worse than that with which he’s been charged, if you see what I mean. Is that possible? Could he get some guarantee that he’d get off fairly lightly in that case?

    Sometimes one can’t get someone else into really deep shit without implicating oneself.

    ReplyReply
  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Sure. It’s all a question of what the DA’s office is willing to take off of the table. Use immunity would cover him for anything he might admit to in his testimony, but given the circumstance, I feel comfortable saying that Mary would seek (and get) transactional. It would hinge on what he has to offer in return. I can only imagine that would look a bit like Solomon’s Mines ๐Ÿ˜€

    ReplyReply
  40. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    So if Weisselberg gets transactional (total) immunity, that means this whole process is really, really about getting Trump.

    ReplyReply
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  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    It’s always about getting the don of the syndicate.

    ReplyReply
    1
  42. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Indeed it is.

    ReplyReply
  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:
    Ding Ding Ding ๐Ÿ˜€

    ReplyReply
  44. Mikey says:

    @Kathy:

    Lucy always takes the football away.

    Yep. Trump will die a free man at a ripe old age and we will be reminded once again that the universe couldn’t give two shits about justice.

    ReplyReply
    1
  45. charon says:
  46. charon says:

    I do not grasp why you all are so obsessed with TFG and orange jumpsuits, his dementia is progressing, no way could he be tried and sentenced before he gets too cognitively impaired for anything other than custodial care anyway.

    Although, I suppose, a criminal trial would force the dementia into the public eye.

    ReplyReply
  47. charon says:

    Trump’s relationship with Putin is transactional, there is no reason now for Putin to be Trump’s kneecap breaker, now that Trump has nothing to offer.

    Trump is on his own now.

    ReplyReply
  48. CSK says:

    Behold this Twiiter rip-off:

    http://www.gettr.com

    It’s headed by Jason Miller, who is holding a place for Trump. The official launch is at 10 a.m. on July 4.

    “Gettr” means “getting together.”

    ReplyReply
  49. Jax says:

    @CSK: Hard pass, for me. The less attention he gets, the more likely he’ll waste away. ๐Ÿ˜›

    ReplyReply
  50. mattbernius says:

    For those interested, both All the President’s Lawyers and The Lawfare Podcast have episodes out that dive into the indictment. The ATPL’s episode is short (22 minutes — closer to 20 if you skip the intro and outro). Lawfare’s is longer — nearly 45 minutes.

    Toplines:
    1. From a tax law perspective this is significant. From a penalties perspective, maybe not as much. The charges are also very narrow in terms of focus.
    2. This is designed to be a “win” either way — They either will get Weisselberg and probably the Trump org OR Weisselberg flips. The feeling is that a flip is necessary to go after higher targets.
    3. Even if Weisselberg flips, making the case against Trump and his family could be hard (because this law apparently requires Trump to have known that he was doing something wrong). Pinning this on the CFO (Weisselberg) could be a strong defense for an individual who has never been known to sweat the details.
    4. While Weisselberg is facing jail time if convicted, the amount of jail time will be much shorter than the maximum sentences that are being reported.

    Links here:
    > https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/lrc-presents-all-the-presidents-lawyers/bonus-josh-ken-indictments-allen-weisselberg-trump
    > https://www.lawfareblog.com/lawfare-podcast-trump-organization-indicted

    ReplyReply

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