New York prosecutors are considering filing a criminal lawsuit this week against Donald Trump’s family business, a financial and political blow to the former president that could be devastating.
The indictment against the Trump Organization is related to taxes attributable to large in-kind bonuses that were awarded to senior executives, including the use of cars and apartments, as well as the payment of school fees.
A personal indictment against the 45th president of the United States is not expected, but the legal drama could cloud his return to politics and bankrupt his company if it damages his relationships with banks and other business partners.
On Thursday, one of the Trump Organization’s lawyers, Ron Fischetti, had a 90-minute online meeting with prosecutors to try to convince them not to file criminal lawsuits against the company.
“The allegations are absolutely outrageous and unprecedented, if lawsuits are filed at all,” Fischetti told the AP news agency on Friday.. “It is only to get revenge on Donald Trump, we are going to plead not guilty and we will file a petition for dismissal.” As reported by the Washington Post, Fischetti and his team had until Monday to present their final arguments against the filing of the lawsuit.
The lengthy investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance began after Michael Cohen, Trump’s ex-attorney and one-man-for-all, tried to clear the way for the 2016 presidential election. buying the silence of two women with money who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump (Trump denies those claims).
The sights are now on Allen Weisselberg (73), who for many years was the CFO of the real estate conglomerate Trump Organization. Prosecutors are examining his son Barry’s use of a Trump apartment at zero or greatly reduced cost, cars rented for the family and tuition paid at a school attended by Weisselberg’s grandchildren.
Those gifts and perks are worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Weisselbergs could be in danger if they did not report that money on their tax returns and financial documents. But Fischetti insists that any criminal lawsuit that relies on supplemental bonuses represents a risky break with precedents.
“We have reviewed a hundred years of cases and we have not found any in which an employee has been charged for the supplemental bonuses and, of course, not the company,” he told the AP. “[Para ser un delito] It should have been in the best interest of the corporation and with the knowledge of the corporation, and there is no proof of that. ”
Still, the big question is whether Weisselberg will remain loyal to the former president or will become an informant with possible testimony against Trump, the owner of the company; his sons Don Jr and Eric, the executive vice presidents; and his daughter Ivanka.
Defeated by Joe Biden in the November presidential election, Trump has long tried to label the investigation a “witch hunt” and remains politically active. On Saturday he again gave campaign ralliesHis intention is to actively participate in the 2022 mid-term elections and he could run again for the presidency in 2024. But some signs indicate that the doors are closing on him.
In his investigation into “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct,” Vance has been digging through Trump’s tax records, demanding documents and interviewing witnesses, including company executives and Trump trusted individuals. A grand jury was recently constituted to examine the evidence.
Letitia James, a New York state attorney general who is pursuing her own civil investigation into Trump’s dealings, has assigned two attorneys to Vance’s team for the criminal investigation.
James’ civil investigation tries to determine whether the Trump Organization inflated property values to get better loan terms, and lowered them to get tax breaks.
The court documents show common ground in the independent investigations of James and Vance. One of them is Seven Springs, an 80-acre estate outside of Manhattan acquired by Trump in 1995. James is reviewing a $ 21.1 million tax deduction that Trump got when he agreed not to develop the property after the local opposition will foil his plan to build a golf course and have another project to build luxury homes abandoned.
Trump has angrily denounced the two investigations. In a statement released on MondayHe said they were an extension of the Democrats’ “witch hunt” against him. “They will do anything to stop the MAGA movement (and me),” he said, referring to the Make America Great Again campaign slogan. He also stated that the Trump Organization was limited to doing “things that are common practice throughout the US business community and that in no way constitute a crime.”
“Having politically motivated prosecutors, people who have really been elected because ‘they will catch Donald Trump’, is something very dangerous for our country,” the statement said. “In the end, people won’t take it. Remember, if you can do this to me, you can do it to anyone!”
The loss of power in Washington has left him, his family and his company without the legal protections they had when he was in the White House.
The District of Columbia attorney general’s office, for example, is suing the Trump Organization and the presidential inauguration committee for the alleged misuse of an amount greater than one million dollars in an event space of the Hotel Trump of Washington during the inauguration celebration in January 2017.
Ivanka, who was a senior adviser in the White House, sat in the dock in December to testify, but at the moment she is not in danger of being criminally sued.
Translated by Francisco de Zárate.