With today’s indictments I’m briefly returning with a FAQ about what’s happened. I’m not sourcing this as everything is just from the news I’ve been reading today and knowledge from following this topic.
Who is Allen Weisselberg?
Weiselberg has been the Chief Financial Officer at the Trump Organization for over 20 years and worked there for decades before that. His tenure at the Trump Organization is longer than Donald Trump’s, having worked for Fred Trump before that.
What are the charges?
All the charges are various forms of tax evasion or fraud. The bulk of these involve benefits being given to Weisselberg which were kept off the books so he would not have to pay taxes on them.
Isn’t it normal for a company to give employees benefits like vehicles?
Absolutely it is. In fact, Eric Trump has already been on TV making that exact argument. The problem here isn’t that he received perks. The problem is that both the company and Weisselberg did this off the books so as to avoid paying taxes.
Is he guilty?
Without question. This is a document crime. They don’t need to rely on any witnesses because they have the documents proving the fraud. The Trump organization kept two sets of books – one official and one documenting the illegal payments.
Is Donald Trump the unindicted co-conspirator? Will he be implicated?
Trump is 100% NOT the unindicted co-conspirator. It’s likely the Trump Org. controller who has already testified to the grand jury. That very likely means that person struck a deal to avoid prosecution. Donald Trump does not and has never used email which means any involvement here would not be in writing. To charge him, they would need Weisselberg to flip and in my opinion, that will never happen.
Could anyone else be caught up in this?
Yes. One of the mechanisms mentioned in the indictment was that Weisselberg was paid as a consultant in addition to his pay as an employee. The way they did this is not legal. The indictment explicitly mentions other Trump Org officers used the same tax evasion scheme. We know from previous New York Times reporting that Ivanka Trump was one of them. It’s a near certainty that Donald Jr. and Eric Trump were as well as the mechanism in this case was a consulting firm run by the three of them. But from my understanding, the paper trail is much stronger implicating Ivanka.
So the Trump kids could be indicted?
Yes. I could not tell you how likely that is however.
What about the feds?
The indictments today, if proven, absolutely show federal crimes as well as New York crimes. Federal investigators have been reluctant to pursue Donald Trump so we’ll see if this triggers any actions.
How will this affect Donald Trump?
It is incredibly unlikely he gets charged with a crime here in my opinion. In the worst case scenarios, this could effectively destroy his company. That does not erase him and may make him more of a political threat going forward. He has played the victim his entire life and this would be more fuel for that.
Could more indictments be coming?
I’ve seen legal analysists saying both that the NY prosecutors could be bringing more charges and that they aren’t likely to. I don’t know. However these are not the only financial crimes we know the Trump Organization has committed. Michael Cohen testified about the frequency of the Trump Org. lying about the value of assets to defraud both lenders and the government. That was not part of today’s indictment. They are exposed there, but this may not get pursued by the federal prosectors.