Trump’s former CFO Allen Weisselberg: I refused to ‘flip’
The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer claims New York prosecutors targeted him with criminal tax charges because he refused to “flip” against his ex-boss, former President Donald Trump.
Allen Weisselberg said in a motion to dismiss filed Jan. 23 and unsealed Tuesday that prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office told him at a meeting one month before his July 2021 indictment that his only “way out” would be to cooperate with their probe into Trump. He said was also warned that one of his sons could face charges.
“This is an unprecedented prosecution of the sort that the People would not have, and have not, brought against any individual other than Mr. Weisselberg, who is collateral damage” in New York’s pursuit of Trump, according to the filing.
The Trump Organization, whose motion to dismiss was also unsealed Tuesday, and Weisselberg both pleaded not guilty in July to charges that they avoided income taxes by paying employees with unreported perks, including luxury apartments, cars and private-school tuitions. Prosecutors in November convened a second grand jury to continue probing the business.
It’s long been clear that New York prosecutors have wanted Weisselberg’s cooperation in bringing a broader case against the Trump Organization and possibly Trump himself. But the recent filing was the first time the 74-year-old executive, who stepped down as CFO after his indictment, detailed the pressure placed on him.
Weisselberg’s main argument for dismissal was that the entire indictment is barred by his federal immunity deal in a separate criminal case against former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen involving Trump’s secret payment to a porn star before the 2016 election. According to Weisselberg, the charges against him were largely fueled by Cohen in revenge after the lawyer was convicted on federal charges related to hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. Weisselberg claims his cooperation with federal prosecutors helped convict Cohen.
“That immunized testimony was given during the federal investigation that resulted in the criminal conviction of Michael Cohen, and it sparked a vendetta that Mr. Cohen has pursued against Mr. Weisselberg in every forum available,” Weisselberg said.
Weisselberg, who stepped down as CFO after he was charged by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, argues the case against him should be allowed to move forward only if the state can prove that all of its evidence against him was derived from “legitimate sources” besides Cohen and not “tainted” by Weisselberg’s immunized testimony.
“There is no vendetta here — only an interest in seeing justice served and to ensure that no one is above the law,” Cohen said by phone.
Weisselberg and the company both argued for dismissal on the grounds that state authorities had no authority to bring charges for federal tax violations. They also suggested that some of the perks could be characterized as “gifts” made by Trump himself rather than income paid by the company. In the same vein, they argued that prosecutors had improperly cited Trump’s personal financial records as company records.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating the Trump Organization in cooperation with New York Attorney General Letitia James, who in 2019 began issuing a series of civil subpoenas to the company over the valuations of properties. A judge last week ordered Trump to sit for a deposition in that probe.
The Trump Organization has long argued the investigations are politically motivated. In May, Trump issued a statement accusing James and former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who issued the indictment of Weisselberg and the company last year, of being “possessed, at an unprecedented level, with destroying the political fortunes of President Donald J. Trump.”
–With assistance from Greg Farrell and Bob Van Voris.
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