Thursday ReadsPosted: July 1, 2021
This morning, Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg turned himself in to prosecutors in Manhattan.
The New York Times: Top Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Surrenders to Face Charges.
Donald J. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, surrendered on Thursday to the Manhattan district attorney’s office as he and the Trump Organization prepared to face charges in connection with a tax investigation, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The exact charges were not yet known. Prosecutors were expected to unseal an indictment later in the day against Mr. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, the real estate business that catapulted Mr. Trump to tabloid fame, television riches and ultimately, the White House.
Mr. Weisselberg, accompanied by his lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, walked into the Lower Manhattan building that houses the criminal courts and the district attorney’s office about 6:20 a.m. He is expected to appear in court in the afternoon along with representatives of the Trump Organization.
The charges against the Trump Organization and Mr. Weisselberg — whom Mr. Trump once praised for doing “whatever was necessary to protect the bottom line” — emerged from the district attorney’s sweeping inquiry into the business practices of Mr. Trump and his company.
As part of that inquiry, the prosecutors in the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., had been examining whether Mr. Weisselberg failed to pay taxes on valuable benefits he and his family received from Mr. Trump, including private school tuition for at least one of his grandchildren, free apartments and leased cars.
The prosecutors, who are also working with lawyers from the office of the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, have also investigated whether the Trump Organization failed to pay payroll taxes on what should have been taxable income.
The specific indictments will remain sealed until after 2PM today, when we will learn more about the charges against the company and Weisselberg. More information from The Washington Post:
Weisselberg arrived at the Manhattan criminal courthouse through an employee entrance at about 6:20 a.m., according to journalists who saw him arrive. His attorney, Mary E. Mulligan, confirmed the surrender in a text to The Washington Post.
“Mr. Weisselberg intends to plead not guilty and he will fight these charges in court,” Mulligan said in a statement sent on behalf of Weisselberg from herself and co-counsel Bryan C. Skarlatos….
Although the indictments could pose trouble for Trump, exposing his company to potential fines and intensifying pressure on Weisselberg, neither the former president nor anyone else in his firm is expected to face charges this week. Prosecutors hope Weisselberg will offer testimony against Trump in exchange for lessening his own legal risk, according to a person familiar with the case.
Weisselberg, who has worked for Trump since the 1980s, is considered the most important figure in the Trump Organization apart from Trump family members. The Washington Post has previously reported that Weisselberg was a key figure in the investigations by Vance and James. Both have scrutinized whether Trump misled lenders or tax authorities, or evaded taxes on forgiven debts or fringe benefits for employees, according to court papers and people familiar with the cases.
In recent months, both sets of investigators have spoken to Jennifer Weisselberg, the chief financial officer’s former daughter-in-law, who said that Weisselberg’s son Barry had been given a free apartment and a hefty salary while he worked at the Trump Organization’s Central Park ice rink. Prosecutors were looking into whether taxes were paid on the benefits, people close to the investigation said.
The now-merged investigations of Trump’s company appear to be the longest-lasting and most extensive prosecutorial examination ever undertaken of the Trump Organization.
From The New York Times, some background on the Trump CFO: Weisselberg, ‘Soldier’ for Trump, Faces Charges and Test of His Loyalty.
Interviews with 18 current and former associates of Mr. Weisselberg, as well as a review of legal filings, financial records and other documents, paint a portrait of a man whose unflinching devotion to Mr. Trump will now be put to the test.
“Allen is a soldier,” said John Burke, a former Trump executive who worked with Mr. Weisselberg in the early 1990s. “Allen was good at doing what Donald wanted him to do.”
A bookkeeper by training who grew up in Brooklyn, Mr. Weisselberg rose steadily within the Trump Organization to become perhaps the former president’s most trusted business adviser. Over decades, Mr. Weisselberg’s personal and family life became increasingly fused with the company and with Mr. Trump, who is just 14 months older.
After raising his sons on Long Island, Mr. Weisselberg and his wife moved into a Trump-branded building on Manhattan’s West Side, where they lived rent-free for years. He bought a home in South Florida, not far from Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and traveled there and back on weekends on Mr. Trump’s jet. His older son, Barry, went to work for the company managing Wollman Rink in Central Park and acted as the D.J. for Mr. Trump’s Christmas parties, where Allen Weisselberg let loose on the dance floor, according to people who attended. In 2004, Mr. Weisselberg appeared in an episode of “The Apprentice,” Mr. Trump’s reality television show.
“They are like Batman and Robin,” said Barry Weisselberg’s ex-wife, Jennifer, who has aided Mr. Vance’s investigation after a contentious divorce. “They’re a team. They’re not best friends. They don’t spend all their time together, but the world became so insular for Allen that he did not know anything else.”
Mr. Weisselberg had become so woven into the fabric of the Trump Organization that when Mr. Trump moved into the White House in 2017, he entrusted Mr. Weisselberg, along with the former president’s adult sons, with running his company. His earnings reflected his importance: Between 2007 and 2017, his total pay averaged nearly $800,000 a year; in 2018, he earned more than $977,000 in salary and deferred compensation, according to tax return data obtained by The Times as part of an investigation published last year.
In other news, yesterday the House voted to form a committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack.
The House voted Wednesday to create a new select committee that will investigate the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol, in a vote falling mostly along party lines that signals the political fight to come over the panel’s examination of the insurrection.
The House voted 222-190 to formally create the select panel. Just two Republicans joined with Democrats to support its formation — Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Ahead of the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor that she was “heartbroken” Congress could not establish a bipartisan commission. Even though the speaker said she was still “hopeful” that a bipartisan commission could happen in the future, Congress had to move forward with the select committee.
“We cannot wait,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “We believe that Congress must in the spirit of bipartisanship and patriotism establish this commission. And it will be conducted with dignity, with patriotism, with respect for the American people, so that they can know the truth.”
Pelosi made the move to establish the committee after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack.
“Our bipartisan, good-faith proposal was met with a filibuster. Now that Senate Republicans have chosen to block the formation of an independent commission, it falls to the House to stay the course and get the answers they deserve,” said House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, who is one of the potential candidates to chair the select committee.
Also yesterday The New York Times published a stunning in-depth video investigation of the Capitol attack. If you haven’t watched it already, I hope you’ll do it today.
From the article:
Congressional committees have looked into police and intelligence failures. The Justice Department has launched a nationwide investigation that has now resulted in more than 500 arrests. And while Republicans in Congress blocked the formation of a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, House Democrats are poised to appoint a smaller select committee.
Even now, however, Republican politicians and their allies in the media are still playing down the most brazen attack on a seat of power in modern American history. Some have sought to paint the assault as the work of mere tourists. Others, going further, have accused the F.B.I. of planning the attack in what they have described — wildly — as a false-flag operation.
The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence.
What we have come up with is a 40-minute panoramic take on Jan. 6, the most complete visual depiction of the Capitol riot to date. In putting it together, we gained critical insights into the character and motivation of rioters by experiencing the events of the day often through their own words and video recordings. We found evidence of members of extremist groups inciting others to riot and assault police officers. And we learned how Donald J. Trump’s own words resonated with the mob in real time as they staged the attack.
Meanwhile the Department of Homeland Security is warning that more violence could be coming later this summer. CNN: DHS raises alarms over potential for summer violence pegged to August conspiracy theory.
Department of Homeland Security officials are warning that the same sort of rhetoric and false narratives that fueled the January 6 attack on the US Capitol could lead to more violence this summer by right-wing extremists.
A growing belief among some Donald Trump supporters that the former President will be reinstated in August, coupled with relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, has DHS officials concerned that online rhetoric and threats could translate into actual violence in the coming months as more people are out and in public places.
The August theory is essentially a recycled version of other false narratives pushed by Trump and his allies leading up to and after January 6, prompting familiar rhetoric from those who remain in denial about his 2020 election loss. But the concern is significant enough that DHS issued two warnings in the past week about the potential for violence this summer.
In a closed-door meeting last Wednesday, DHS officials briefed lawmakers on the role that misinformation and disinformation play in creating circumstances for people to act violently, according to a congressional source familiar with the briefing.
On Monday, DHS issued an intelligence bulletin to state and local law enforcement partners about the increasing opportunities for violent extremist attacks this summer, including concerns that QAnon conspiracy theorists continue to promote the idea that Trump will return to power in August, according to a source familiar.
A few more stories to check out:
Robert C. Gottleib at CNN: Why a gag order against Trump would be a good idea.
Ryan J. Reilly at HuffPost: ‘Sedition Hunters’: Meet The Online Sleuths Aiding The FBI’s Capitol Manhunt.
Charles Pierce at Esquire: Kristi Noem Is Activating Forces That She Does Not Understand and Will Never Be Able to Control.
Ed Yong at The Atlantic: The 3 Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta.
The New York Times: Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions.
Stay tuned. I’m sure there are multiple legal experts salivating to get their hands on and analyze the indictments this afternoon. It should be interesting.