Prosecutors investigating Trump focus on his CFO
Manhattan state attorneys who are investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his family business focus their attention on the company’s longtime CFO, asking witnesses questions about his dealings with the company, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The increased focus on executive Allen H. Weisselberg could intensify pressure on him to cooperate with the investigation if prosecutors discover evidence of wrongdoing on his part. He has been the financial custodian of the Trump Organization for more than two decades and could be a vital source of information for the government on the inner workings of the company.
In recent weeks, prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. have interviewed witnesses who know Mr. Weisselberg and have questioned at least one witness about Mr. Weisselberg’s sons Barry and Jack Weisselberg. , according to two of those familiar with the matter.
Barry Weisselberg was Trump Wollman Rink’s property manager in Central Park, and Jack works at Ladder Capital, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest lenders.
The district attorney’s office has not charged Mr. Weisselberg or his sons with any wrongdoing, and there is no indication that the sons are the focus of the investigation.
If prosecutors get Allen Weisselberg’s cooperation, it could give a significant boost to the long-term investigation and deal a blow to Mr. Trump, who has long depended on Mr. Weisselberg’s unwavering loyalty.
Prosecutors are examining, among other things, whether Mr. Trump and the Trump organization falsely manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits. For his part, Mr. Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and “fishing expedition” by Mr. Vance, a Democrat.
Mr. Weisselberg, 73, an accountant, began his career working for Mr. Trump’s father and oversaw the books of the Trump Organization for decades. He recently ran the business with Mr. Trump’s adult sons during the Trump presidency and has remained loyal to the business even after his name surfaced during congressional and federal investigations into Mr. Trump or his business.
More recently, Mr. Weisselberg has become a figure of interest in the state attorney’s investigation, according to those with knowledge of the case. In addition to potential financial crimes, the investigation focused on the possible role Mr. Weisselberg and other Trump Organization employees played in the hidden money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women. who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.
A spokesperson for Mr. Vance declined to comment on the investigation. A lawyer for Allen Weisselberg, Mary E. Mulligan, also declined to comment, as did a representative of the Trump Organization.
Last month Mr. Vance’s team scored a big victory when tSupreme Court rejected final attempt by Mr. Trump to block subpoena for financial records, ending the former president’s nearly 18-month battle to keep investigators from seeing his tax returns.
“For over two years, New York City has been reviewing almost every transaction I have made, including researching tax returns that have been done by the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms. of the United States, ”Mr. Trump said. after the Supreme Court decision.
Pending judgment, prosecutors have widened the survey to include an array of deals involving some of Mr. Trump’s most significant properties – including Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, various Trump Hotels and the Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County.
The Trump investigations
Many inquiries. Since former President Donald Trump stepped down, numerous inquiries and inquiries have been carried out into his businesses and personal affairs. Here is a list of those in progress:
Prosecutors are examining whether the Trump Organization has inflated the values of some of its properties to get the best possible loans while lowering values to lower property taxes, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Prosecutors are also investigating the Trump Organization’s statements to insurance companies about the value of various assets.
Prosecutors having assigned Mr. Trump’s two main lenders, Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital, who are cooperating with the investigation. Ladder Capital sold its Trump Organization loans, along with others, to investors years ago and therefore no longer owns them.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization are expected to argue with prosecutors that the company could not have fooled the sophisticated financial institutions that made the loans because they performed their own analysis of Mr. Trump’s properties without considering the valuations of Mr. the society. Lawyers for the company are also likely to point out that the practice of providing different valuations for the same property depending on the situation is prevalent in the New York real estate industry.
When Mr. Vance’s office opened its investigation more than two years ago, it began with a review of secret cash payments. In particular, prosecutors examined how the company accounted for $ 130,000 that it gave to Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, as a refund for the money he paid to buy the silence. of one of the women, Stormy Daniels, a pornographic actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges for his role in arranging the payments. He is now cooperating with prosecutors for Mr Vance, who have questioned him on several occasions, according to people with knowledge of the meetings. Lanny Davis, an attorney for Mr. Cohen, declined to comment.
Testifying before Congress two years ago, Mr. Cohen blamed Mr. Weisselberg for the secret money scheme, which he said helped design a strategy to hide the Trump Organization’s repayments from Mr. Cohen for his payment to Mrs. Daniels. Federal prosecutors who indicted Mr. Cohen did not charge Mr. Weisselberg with wrongdoing.
Susan C. Beachy contributed to the research.