2021-07-15 by W.M.
Trump’s former CFO is in trouble. His resignation won’t help him —or Trump
In the wake of the long-awaited indictments against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg announced July 1, many of us have been left to wonder how long it will take Weisselberg to decide to save his own hide (and perhaps those of his family members) and become a cooperating co-defendant, testifying against others, possibly such as former President Donald Trump and his children.
Weisselberg is facing 15 felony counts of criminal offenses including grand larceny, falsifying business records and tax fraud. Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office allege that Weisselberg evaded paying more than $900,000 in taxes and that he, and other senior executives at the Trump Organization, were the beneficiaries of perks and benefits with very real dollar values but which were never accounted for in tax filings. (Both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty. Trump himself was not charged.)
Reports from just a couple of days ago suggest the Trump Organization had begun removing Weisselberg from his leadership positions at several subsidiaries of the company. However, a Washington Post report on Tuesday indicated Weisselberg resigned from his roles at these subsidiaries.
The Washington Post reported that on June 25, just a few days before he was indicted, Weisselberg submitted an omnibus resignation letter, stating, “Effective immediately, I, Allen Weisselberg, resign from each and every office and position that I hold in the entities listed on Schedule A, attached hereto.”
Weisselberg’s resignation from his roles will not slow down his criminal case nor that of the Trump Organization.
Included in that list of subsidiaries was the Trump Payroll Corp., the Wall Street Journal reported, which the indictment alleged had misreported employees’ compensation at the Trump Organization. June 25 was also the day after his lawyers met with prosecutors in a last-ditch effort to convince them not to bring charges against him, the Washington Post reported.
Weisselberg’s resignation from his roles will not slow down his criminal case nor that of the Trump Organization. Just because a defendant resigns from the position that facilitated the crimes of which he is accused does not mean his culpability simply goes away. Weisselberg may continue to play some role at the Trump Organization, but that remains unclear at this time.
It does appear, however, that Trump’s children, and Trump himself, are taking on more responsibility at the company — and that spells inevitable trouble for all involved. What also remains a certainty is that Weisselberg can still decide to cooperate with the prosecution to try to shave off possible jail time from a sentence.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office already has its hands on the relevant and necessary documents, and witnesses like Jennifer Weisselberg, Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, continue to provide background and color commentary on what those documents mean and their significance.
The prosecution’s case is also bolstered by prior admissions in sworn deposition testimony provided in 2018 by Weisselberg’s son Barry during his divorce case with Jennifer Weisselberg. During his deposition, Barry Weisselberg testified that his father and Trump determined his $200,000 annual salary and the related perks, including massive annual bonuses. (When asked if Trump was personally paying some of his expenses, he responded “I don’t know.”)
Jennifer Weisselberg, who has been putting an exclamation point on that old adage “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” turned over boxes of documents to law enforcement and has met with investigators on several occasions.
You may recall that immediately after the indictments were announced, the Trump Organization, Trump and his allies complained that this prosecution was just the latest in a string of politically motivated “witch hunts.” But if this criminal probe is just some kind of sham prosecution, then why would Weisselberg resign from all of his leadership positions in these Trump Organization subsidiaries? And why would he do so before he was indicted?
The obvious answer is that Trump, as well as other senior executives at the Trump Organization, are admittedly worried about the exposure and liability these criminal charges present. Lenders and creditors will balk at doing business with an indicted company, and there is the very real possibility of default covenants kicking in.
So Weisselberg, newly toxic from his indictment, removes himself from the helm to try to save the ship from sinking. From what we know, however, about the evidence in this case — i.e., two sets of books and checks signed by Trump himself — the Trump Organization just might be the Titanic, its ending already written.