In his Friday testimony, former CFO Allen Weisselberg demonstrated an apparent conflict between loyalty to his employer and the desire to assist investigators in fulfilling his plea deal in the criminal prosecution of the Trump Organization. He was pressed on that point multiple times by the defence lawyers on Friday morning, and lawyer Susan Necheles briefly questioned him about his worries about going to jail if the plea agreement falls through.
Weisselberg responded to each question regarding his intentions on the stand by saying, “What is in my mind is, to tell the truth at this trial. Cross-examination questions between the attorneys immediately became contentious, with defence counsel Alan Futerfas objecting to Necheles’ questioning at one point in the conversation.
The government’s main witness, Weisselberg, once more denied involvement in the internal “clean up” at the Trump Organization. He said he is unsure of the president’s knowledge of the company’s status or when but that he engaged mainly with Trump’s sons after Trump was elected president, according to his testimony on Friday.
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Weisselberg testified, “Once he was in the White House, we had very little communication about anything going on in the corporation.” Additionally, he said that Eric and Donald Jr. Trump, Donald Trump’s sons, were made aware of the unlawful actions following an internal investigation in 2017 and 2018. Weisselberg admitted that no one received a warning or a demotion once the scam was discovered. He claimed he requested and received a $200,000 raise from Eric Trump in 2019.
Trump’s former CFO just said in court that Trump authorized the tax scheme the Trump Org is currently on trial for.https://t.co/9K8KgZN4LX
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) November 17, 2022
Prosecutors must demonstrate that Weisselberg meant to benefit the Trump entities to secure a conviction; the judge will specify what the jury must find when he presents the evidence to the jury. Weisselberg walked a delicate line in his evidence, saying he never intended to harm the firm and that his main goal was to pay less in taxes, but he was also aware at the time that the company would somewhat profit from his plans.
Although it was advantageous to the business, he said his avarice was mainly to blame. Necheles persuaded Weisselberg to concede that the prosecution wanted him to link his greed to the tax benefits his strategy provided the businesses. The prosecutor’s office wants you to testify about that, she said.
Weisselberg added, “I don’t know what’s relevant to the prosecution. Weisselberg did, however, claim in his testimony that he and Jeff McConney, the Trump Organization’s controller, never expressly discussed the advantages for the business or estimated how much money the company would save as a result of the underreported income. It was accepted that paying less in payroll taxes would result in a lower payroll.
Defence lawyer Futerfas claimed there was a minor gain for the Trump organisations. He displayed an expense report for the Trump Organization that included over $54,000 in flower purchases to the jurors. The defence lawyer contrasted the roughly $24,000 in payroll taxes that the corporations failed to pay on Weisselberg’s undocumented fringe perks over 12 years with the more than $267 million in expenses over eight years.
Despite Weisselberg’s “betrayal” of the Trumps and their businesses, the Trump Organization is still paying for his sizable legal team, which includes attorneys from various firms. Susan Hoffinger, the executive assistant district attorney in the Manhattan prosecutor’s office, stated during the redirect examination that his attorneys are among the best in the city.
Weisselberg grinned and remarked, “I certainly hope so.” The prosecution turned around and smiled at Weisselberg’s defence team seated in the second row of the gallery as the courtroom burst out in laughter, including from the judge and some jurors.
Necheles later confirmed with the longtime CEO of the Trump Organization that he stood with the Trump family during difficult times when they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Necheles questioned, “And this is the worst time in your life. Weisselberg responded, “I’d say absolutely. And he hasn’t thrown you out,” she added. He answered, “He hasn’t.
“Do you think that means he approves of what you did?” Nechéles enquired Weisselberg answered, “No. Due to the holiday, the trial has been postponed for the week and will only continue on Monday and Tuesday of the following week. After three days of testimony, Weisselberg vacated the witness stand.