Charges against Trump family business expected
Criminal charges are expected to be filed against the Trump Organization as soon as next week in connection with the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running inquiry into the financial dealings of former President Donald Trump’s namesake company, a Trump attorney said Friday.
Trump attorneys met with local prosecutors Thursday in an attempt to persuade officials not to proceed, Trump Organization lawyer Ron Fischetti said in an interview with USA TODAY.
“In my more than 50 years of practice, never before have I seen the District Attorney’s Office target a company over employee compensation or fringe benefits,” Fischetti said. “Even the financial institutions responsible for causing the 2008 financial crises, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, were not prosecuted.”
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. did not respond to a request for comment.
The timing of the possible criminal charges was first reported by the New York Times.
Fischetti said prosecutors have not succeeded in securing the cooperation of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, as the most knowledgeable of the former president’s business operations.
For more than two years, Vance has been digging deep into the operations of the Trump family business for possible fraud involving banks, insurance companies and taxing entities.
The New York prosecutor won a major, public victory in February when Trump’s accounting firm was forced to turn over eight years of tax records as part of a protracted legal battle that ended at the Supreme Court.
Vance’s investigation appeared to have accelerated last month with the disclosure that a special grand jury had been convened to consider possible evidence of criminality by the president, his business associates or the company itself.
The district attorney has been examining the far-flung Trump Organization’s banking, tax and insurance transactions with a focus on whether the company manipulated property values to obtain favorable loans and reduced tax rates.
Prosecutors also have been weighing hush-money payments made to women on Trump’s behalf and how that money was documented.
Former Trump personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen has acknowledged meeting with New York prosecutors multiple times in cooperation with their investigation.
Cohen has told USA TODAY that he would not comment on any aspect of the case, citing the ongoing investigation and his potential role in it as a key witness for the prosecution. But he has commented extensively on Twitter on how grand jury proceedings significantly accelerate the investigation.
Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges that included campaign-finance violations for paying hush money to women who claimed to have had sex with Trump and for lying to Congress, has repeatedly pointed to Weisselberg as most knowledgeable of the former president’s business operations.