As had been predicted for some time, Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was indicted – together with the entity itself – by New York prosecutors on 15 tax-related charges including tax fraud, grand larceny, and falsification of business records, as The Hill reported, in a move decried by those close to former President Donald Trump.
The indictment claims that Weisselberg and the Trump Organization engaged in a scheme to provide compensation to the CFO and other executives “off the books” so that they received significant amounts of income through disguised payments. Weisselberg, for his part, is accused of, among other things, having rent, garage, and utility expenses for his Manhattan residence paid for by the company and then failing to report and pay taxes on the sums, as CNBC noted.
Though the charges are certainly not a positive development for Weisselberg personally or for the Trump Organization more broadly, pundits have pointed out that the case brought is exceptionally narrow, perhaps even unprecedented in nature, and therefore indicative of a prosecutorial failure to find more serious infractions that could ensnare the former president himself.
Members of the mainstream media had been waiting with baited breath to see Trump charged with anything from inflating assets to secure sizable bank loans to committing bank fraud, or perhaps even misconduct related to payments made to secure silence about extramarital affairs, as Fox News’ Howard Kurtz noted. Despite Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance trying as hard as he could for three years to find fodder for such allegations, he apparently came up empty.
A statement issued by the Trump Organization said, “After years of investigating, dozens of subpoenas, millions of documents and millions of dollars in taxpayer money, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has decided to charge select Trump entities with providing a car, an apartment and other employee benefits to one of its long-time executives,” adding, “Make no mistake – this is not about the law; this is all about politics.”
Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas blasted the charges, saying that they if they involved anyone other than someone with close ties to Trump, they would have been brought by the Internal Revenue Service or other agencies and settled civilly, but because of political animus against the former president, they were lodged in this headline-grabbing manner.
The former president himself also lashed out following the news of the indictment, saying, “the political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Democrats, with New York taking over the assignment, continues. It is dividing our Country like never before.”
Donald Trump Jr. slammed the decision to indict Weisselberg, calling it “banana republic stuff,” and saying, according to the New York Post, “This is what Vladimir Putin does…after…3 million documents, countless witnesses and hours of grand jury testimony, outside forensic auditors, this is what they come up with: they’re going to charge a guy who’s 75 years old on crimes of avoiding paying taxes on a fringe benefit.”
Despite the obvious difficulty the charges pose for the reputation of the Trump Organization as a whole, attorney Daniel Goldman, who assisted in bringing impeachment charges against the former president, believes that he is likely personally in the clear with regard to any possible future charges. “I’m no fan of Trump but I do not believe he should be charged with a crime because one doesn’t like him for his policies,” Goldman declared.