Former President Donald Trump’s eponymous company, as well as its chief financial officer, are set to face criminal charges this week related to tax crimes, according to new reports.
Per The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the pending allegations, the Trump Organization will be formally charged with tax-related crimes on Thursday by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Charges will also likely be levied against the company’s CFO, Allen Weisselberg, and possibly others.
The Manhattan DA’s office is likely to claim that CFO Weisselberg and other employees had evaded paying income taxes on certain fringe benefits — such as cars, apartments and tuition for private schools — received as compensation from the Trump Organization.
Those charges would be among the first made related to an investigation that was started around three years ago by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. In order to arrive at the pending charges, Vance’s office, working in tandem with New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office, scoured the tax records of the Trump Organization and the former president. The attorney general’s office is exploring the possibility of bringing civil charges against Trump and the company as well. As part of the inquiry, the AG’s office has subpoenaed several documents and witnesses from the Trump Organization.
Earlier this year, it was reported that investigators were hoping for Weisselberg to “flip” on his boss, to cooperate with the inquiry in order to avoid charges against him personally. While prosecutors so far have not succeeded in getting Trump’s CFO to flip, the possibility of that happening still exists after charges against Weisselberg are announced tomorrow.
Investigators were only able to examine Trump’s tax records after the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year against a number of legal challenges brought by the former president’s lawyers seeking to keep his tax records private.
While the accusations against his company are likely to tarnish his future political aspirations, upon news of the pending charges Trump loyalists were quick to suggest on Wednesday that they would actually help him, and hurt Democrats in the long run.
“They told their crazies and their supplicants in the mainstream media this was about President Trump,” former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller tweeted. “Instead, their Witch Hunt is persecuting an innocent 80 year-old man for maybe taking free parking!”
Miller’s comments, however, may be premature. The announcement of charges against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg do not diminish the possibility that the investigation is still ongoing, and indeed, others who were once in Trump’s orbit have suggested he could still face criminal charges, even without Weisselberg’s help.
Trump’s former “fixer” lawyer Michael Cohen, who himself cooperated over investigations relating to campaign expenses made by the former president, said earlier this week that prosecutors already have evidence to charge the former president with a crime. Responding to comments from Daniel Goldman, the former lead counsel during the first Trump impeachment, that without Weisselberg’s cooperation the Manhattan DA would not be able to go after Trump, Cohen said that it wasn’t the case.
“Wrong! They have documents to prove more than you know or should be commenting on,” Cohen tweeted. “Weisselberg is not the key to a Trump indictment.”