Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office tasked with investigating Donald Trump and his private business have turned their attention to the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, a longtime confidant whose relationship with the family business dates back nearly half a century.
According to a Monday report from the New York Times, investigators have been increasingly focused on CFO Allen Weisselberg, likely hoping he can be pressured into cooperating with the ongoing probe into possible tax, insurance, and ban fraud offenses. Two sources said to have knowledge of the investigation told the Times that in recent weeks prosecutors working under Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance “have been interviewing witnesses who know Mr. Weisselberg and have asked at least one witness about Mr. Weisselberg’s sons, Barry and Jack Weisselberg.”
While there’s reportedly “no indication that the sons are a focus of the investigation,” both Barry and Jack are heavily entrenched in Trump’s private businesses, with Barry having been the property manager at the Wollman ice skating rink in New York City that the Trump Organization ran until this year, and Jack working for Ladder Capital, one of the former president’s biggest lenders.
The probe, which began as an inquiry into the hush money payments Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, has broadened “significantly” in recent months. Prosecutors claimed in court documents to have evidence of “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”
Additional moves have also signaled that the investigation will be highly focused on the Trump Organization’s books. Vance last month added Mark Pomerantz to the team investigating Trump. Pomerantz is a former federal prosecutor who specializes in untangling complex financial dealings and white-collar crimes.
Weisselberg, who first started working as an accountant for Fred Trump in the 1970s and more recently helped Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump run the business during their father’s term in office, could be the key to a prospective criminal case against the former president as he’s overseen the Trump Organization’s finances for more than two decades.
That notion was backed by Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump, who said Weisselberg knows the Trump business empire as well as anybody.
“Weisselberg started working for my grandfather at Trump Management in Brooklyn in 1971 and most likely followed Donald to Manhattan in order to keep an eye on him. He knows close to everything,” she wrote Monday evening in response to the Times report.
Weisselberg started working for my grandfather at Trump Management in Brooklyn in 1971 and most likely followed Donald to Manhattan in order to keep an eye on him. He knows close to everything.
— Mary L Trump (@MaryLTrump) March 2, 2021
Several former federal prosecutors expressed similar thoughts on the significance Weisselberg could play in any prosecution of Donald Trump.
UCLA law professor and former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman said that Weisselberg “knows where all the bodies are buried and is not going to go to jail to save Trump.”
Weisselberg is 73 and has been working for the Trump Organization since Trump's father was in charge. Knows where all the bodies are buried and is not going to go to jail to save Trump.
Prosecutors Investigating Trump Focus on His Finance Chief https://t.co/cQvEhqe1zv
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) March 2, 2021
CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor in the Southern District of New York Elie Honig noted that Weisselberg’s past suggests he may be willing to turn on his boss.
“Reminder that Weisselberg was given immunity for his testimony in the SDNY in 2018. That suggests (1) he was willing to testify, and (2) SDNY thought it was worth giving him a pass to get his testimony,” he wrote.
Reminder that Weisselberg was given immunity for his testimony in the SDNY in 2018. That suggests (1) he was willing to testify, and (2) SDNY thought it was worth giving him a pass to get his testimony. https://t.co/tA7YEdNk0x
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) March 1, 2021
NYU law professor Andrew Weissmann, who previously served as one of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s top lieutenants, said the CFO “is always a key person to flip,” adding, “He can be a fall guy for the CEO or a cooperator, but not both.”
Breaking Re Trump NY Criminal Investigation: The CFO is always a key person to flip. He can be a fall guy for the CEO or a cooperator, but not both. Will Weisselberg become the next Andy Fastow?
via @NYTimes https://t.co/TqJpBbVqFV
— Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) March 2, 2021
The latest reporting comes a week after the Manhattan DA’s Office finally obtained Donald Trump’s tax returns and “millions of pages” of his financial records.
[Image via Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images]
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