Trump Knew About Weisselberg’s Tax Wrongdoing, Prosecutors Said

Trump Knew About Weisselberg’s Tax Wrongdoing: In the ongoing criminal case against his namesake firm, the former president is not being investigated or prosecuted in any way. It is anticipated that jury deliberations would start on Monday.

The President was Aware of Weisselberg’s Tax Misdeeds

A prosecutor suggested Friday that Donald Trump knew about a 15-year tax fraud by veteran officials at his namesake firm, which ceased when the company cleaned up its business procedures around the time Trump became president. Prosecutors suggested Trump knew about his top deputies’ misdeeds at the end of the Trump Organization’s criminal trial. The argument supported their contention that the real estate, hotel, and golf corporations committed and profited from tax evasion.

“This whole story that Donald Trump was blissfully unaware was just not real,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said during his summation. He asked jurors, who are set to begin deliberations in the case on Monday, to ignore the concept that executives who committed crimes had simply gone “rogue.”

At the same time, Steinglass also told the jury that it “doesn’t matter” if they believe Trump knew about the fraud because the former president is not considered a conspirator in the case.

Trump has not been charged with wrongdoing. This July, his longtime CFO and 50-year Trump family member Allen Weisselberg pled guilty to fraud. The prosecution relied on Weisselberg’s and Trump Organization comptroller Jeffrey McConney’s testimony concerning the fraud.

Prosecutors say the corporation gained from the deception in several ways, including by cutting down its payroll costs and by saving on its Medicare tax burden.

For the corporation to be found guilty of wrongdoing and punished up to $1.6 million, the district attorney must establish that Weisselberg or McConney had “some intent” to aid the company in addition to minimizing tax liability for themselves. The scam includes untaxed luxury residences, Mercedes-Benzes, and private school tuition for Weisselberg’s grandkids.

Trump said on Truth Social this week that “there was no advantage for ‘Trump’” and that “we had to no knowledge of it.” Defense counsel Susan Necheles reminded jurors in her conclusion Thursday that Weisselberg and McConney had testified that Trump “did not know how things were reported on Allen Weisselberg’s tax returns” and contended that Trump did not know about his executives’ tax offenses.

Prosecutors mostly ignored the problem and did not immediately challenge Weisselberg and McConney’s claim. On Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan decided the Trump Organization’s attorneys opened the door to addressing Trump’s awareness by telling jurors Weisselberg had “betrayed” the Trump family.

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rump Knew About Weisselberg's Tax Wrongdoing
rump Knew About Weisselberg’s Tax Wrongdoing

“The fact that this was sanctioned and a practice that was known to Mr. Trump immediately rebuts that inaccurate narrative,” Steinglass stated in a debate that took place outside the sight of the jury.

Merchan allowed prosecutors to make that argument, saying that the Trump Organization defense team “repeatedly” cited Trump “in an attempt to separate Mr. Trump from the defense table and these proceedings.” Weisselberg and other executives got yearly bonuses on 1099s, which are usually used to pay independent contractors. Before Trump became president, the Trump Organization’s accounting team did it.

Trump Organization attorneys claim Weisselberg, who is still on the job but on paid leave, organized the tax fraud in secret, keeping it from Trump. Weisselberg said that Trump authorized his pay and annual bonus but did not aware of his tampering with income reporting, which saved him $1.7 million in taxes from 2005 to 2017.

Weisselberg admitted felony tax fraud and conspiracy in August. He testified against the firm for a five-month sentence instead of 15 years. He also owes $2 million in taxes and penalties. Manhattan District Attorneys Alvin Bragg and Cyrus R. Vance Jr. investigated the matter for three years.

Bragg has said the Trump probe is ongoing and that his team—rebuilt after Vance left office over a year ago—is reviewing earlier foci of the protracted inquiry. The criminal investigation began with an assessment of a 2016 presidential campaign hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) has sued Trump, Weisselberg, three of Trump’s adult children, and the Trump Organization for allegedly manipulating property valuations and defrauding lenders and insurers to get lower loan and policy rates. The Trump Organization’s New York operations might be severely hampered if that case goes to trial late next year.

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