“I think the Trump Org could be dead…may be the biggest real estate corp bankruptcy in history”
The Trump Organization was charged with 15 felony counts Thursday in what federal prosecutors allege was a 15-year long “sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme” to compensate executives “to help them avoid paying taxes,” as The New York Times reports.
Despite the Trump Organization’s pre-indictment claims the charges would be minimal, legal experts say they are far from it.
“The 15-count indictment, which charged the Trump Organization with committing a scheme to defraud, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records, accused the company of a long-running conspiracy to help executives, including Mr. Weisselberg, evade taxes on perks and bonuses while at the same time decreasing the company’s own tax obligations,” The Times explains.
Prosecutors Thursday filed charges against both the Trump Organization and its Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, who appears in this video earlier today in handcuffs:
Here we go pic.twitter.com/ZWiVCc8kKy
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 1, 2021
Legal experts are reading the indictment and applying their knowledge to the case.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who was fired by then-President Donald Trump, says, “I’m not optimistic that Weisselberg will flip but I am optimistic he’ll be convicted.”
“The law is fairly clear on what is income & what is taxable. He’s a sophisticated executive; mistake is implausible. The company booked much of it as income. And juries hate rich tax cheats.”
Noted national security attorney Bradley Moss tweeted his agreement:
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) July 1, 2021
Moss also says what prosecutors alleged the Trump Organization did “is exactly what corporations are not supposed to do.”
This indictment is no small thing, and the pre-emptive PR efforts to minimize it were unwise. This was a longtime conspiracy to defraud tax authorities and falsify records. This is exactly what corporations are not supposed to do.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) July 1, 2021
Professor of Taxation at NYU Law School Daniel Shaviro says after discovering this level of tax fraud you would have to repeal all taxes rather than choose to not prosecute for them.
I’ve read the Weisselberg indictment. If we take its assertions as true, this is no ticky-tack, or foot fault, or debatable case of tax fraud. You might as well repeal the federal, state, and city income taxes as discover this sort of conduct and not prosecute it.
— Daniel Shaviro (@DanielShaviro) July 1, 2021
NYU Law Professor, a former Special Counsel at the Dept. of Defense, asks, where are the feds?
The Trump Organization-Weisselberg Indictment alleges a FEDERAL tax fraud scheme.
Charges are serious and documented enough, and DA believes can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, so question is:
Where is the Garland Justice Department/IRS?
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) July 1, 2021
Former New York Times investigative reporter who covered corporate insider trading and other financial topics says “if even the smallest bit of this case is true, I think the Trump Org could be dead.”
…in fact, if even the smallest bit of this case is true, I think the Trump Org could be dead. It’s complicated, but it primarily pertains to the 12th count of the indictment.
Taking this a step at a time: Like most real estate companies, the Trump Org is horribly illiquid…2
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) July 1, 2021
“He *needed* the presidency to survive financially. I have always believed, that is why he is so desperate to keep it,” Eichenwald adds, “because if he was president, he could hit up the Russians, Saudis, etc to bail him out. Now, with him toxic and a threat to the country, those nations know that any secret payments they make to him run a huge risk of being discovered.”
He also says this “may be the biggest real estate corp bankruptcy in history.”
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‘Next Chapter?’ Manhattan DA Signals Trump Himself Might Finally Land Under Indictment
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg may finally have changed his mind about indicting former president Donald Trump.
The recent conviction of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg gave a glimpse of evidence that could tie the ex-president directly to the tax fraud scheme, such as a memo he signed approving chief operating officer Matthew Calamari’s illegal request to reduce his taxed salary to cover the cost of his untaxed corporate apartment, reported The Daily Beast.
“We now move on to the next chapter,” Bragg said last week after the company was ordered to pay $1.6 million in penalties for tax fraud.
Trump already asserted under oath in another case in 2021 that he personally oversaw Calimari’s compensation, and prosecutors have checks he signed to cover tuition at a private school for Weisselberg’s grandchildren, whose mother Jennifer Weisselberg has repeatedly told investigators she personally heard Trump discuss the scheme to artificially lower taxed salaries for his executives.
“This case has tentacles,” said Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor who now represents Jennifer Weisselberg and has been communicating with investigators.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on what Bragg meant about another chapter, but former prosecutors from that office say their experience leads them to believe prosecutors will go after Trump.
“For people who want a certain outcome — to go after Trump — it gives hope,” said Catherine A. Christian, a former assistant district attorney who investigated financial fraud. “They’re going to be thorough. I’m doubtful he would have said ‘next chapter’ if they weren’t looking.”
“It happens all the time with large, complex investigations,” she added.
Prosecutors had hoped to flip Weisselberg or company controller Jeffrey McConney, who was nearly labeled a hostile witness during the Trump Organization trial, but ultimately were unable to get their full cooperation.
“They didn’t flip, and they failed,” said former Manhattan prosecutor Jeff Chabrowe. “They tried to do everything they could, and in the end, they got a truncated thing here where they went after the organization and Weisselberg, and there’s this fine that’s pretty weak.”
‘Final Nail in His Coffin’: Trump’s Taxes Contain ‘Powerful Evidence of Criminal Tax Evasion’
In a column for the Daily Beast, longtime investigative journalist and Donald Trump biographer David Cay Johnston made the case that there is enough evidence of financial fraud in the former president’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 to indict and prosecute him.
At issue, he noted, are deductions taken for Trump companies — some of which may never have existed.
According to Johnston, the author of “The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family,” he found “powerful evidence of criminal tax evasion,” after reviewing the documents after they were released on Friday morning to the public after years of obstruction from Trump.
“Consider a rich business owner who fabricates deductions but who would still owe zero tax in the audited year even if those deductions were denied. That means an audit that will not generate any tax revenue. That’s also what Trump apparently did in 26 sole proprietor, or Schedule C, filings in the six years of released tax returns,” he wrote before adding, “Trump also turned a profit off a portion of the tax system, making $2.8 million profit off the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT.”
As for those 26 Trump businesses that may or may not exist, Johnston suggested that investigators dig deeper into how the former president used them to get out of paying taxes in the years involved.
“Most glaring in the tax returns is that they include 26 Trump businesses—or imaginary businesses—with zero revenue and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax deductions for expenses,” he pointed out while noting they should be of interest to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“Unless Trump can produce records showing the expenses are real and meet other standards to be deductible, that’s fraud. That Trump did it 26 times as a candidate and as president is powerful evidence that he qualifies for prosecution by the federal government and New York State for criminal tax fraud,” he wrote before adding the results could lead to a “slam dunk” prosecution.
You can read more here.
Image: Evan El Amin/Shutterstock
Watch: J6 Committee Votes to Send Four Criminal Referrals Against Donald Trump to DOJ
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has voted to send four criminal referrals to the Dept. of Justice, even more than previously expected.
The Committee’s referral says Donald Trump is guilty of: Obstruction of an official proceeding; Conspiracy to defraud the United States; Conspiracy to make a false statement; Inciting, assisting or aiding/comforting an insurrection, as reported by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Calling the move “a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation,” The New York Times reports this is “the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution,” and “is the coda to the committee’s intense 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in a violent mob of the former president’s supporters laying siege to the Capitol.”
Watch this historic moment below or at this link.
The vote pic.twitter.com/Tsk0mE0wCC
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 19, 2022
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