- Former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann analyzed the investigations into the Trump Organization.
- He said investigators were likely focused on the possible falsification of business records.
- New York AG Letitia James this week announced a criminal investigation into the company.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Andrew Weissmann, who served as a top prosecutor on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, has said that authorities probing the Trump Organization are likely focusing on whether business records were falsified.
In an Wednesday interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Weissmann discussed the Tuesday announcement by the New York Attorney General that its investigation into former President Donald Trump’s businesses was now criminal in nature.
The interview also followed reports that the New York Attorney General had opened a criminal tax investigation into Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization.
CNN reported that the New York AG was looking into Weisselberg’s personal taxes, while the Manhattan District Attorney was focusing on his work at the Trump Organization, both in an attempt to find leverage that could convince him to cooperate with prosecutors.
“Allen Weisselberg is clearly in the sights of the Manhattan office and the New York attorney general because they clearly want him to flip,” Weissmann said Wednesday.
-The Last Word (@TheLastWord) May 20, 2021
“So getting him [Weisselberg] to flip is important,” continued Weissmann, adding that the former CFO “faces two types of liability. He faces liability for the work he did as part of the Trump Organization, but also he could face liability with respect to his own personal taxes.”
“And, of course, there has been reporting of him receiving or being the beneficiary of substantial sums to pay for school tuition,” Weissmann said, referring to reports that investigators were examining whether Weisselberg or his family’s tuition payments allowed him to avoid paying taxes.
“And the issue is going to be how is that reported by the Trump Organization? How is that reported by Allen Weisselberg? How was it reported by others, and did they do the right thing?”
Weissmann then discussed the specific legal instruments prosecutors could use in the investigation.
“There is a tax statute and a false-statements statute in New York law that is quite broad and makes it a crime to submit falsified or have falsified business records, particularly if you’re doing that in aid of another crime,” he said.
“So, for example, if you have false Trump Organization business records and you’re doing that to aid in either a federal or state tax scheme, you can be charged with that very broad false-statements charge under New York law, and that is a felony.”
Weisselberg was the finance chief at the Trump Organization for 40 years, and has not formally been accused of any wrongdoing. Insider has contacted Weisselberg’s attorney for comment.
If the investigations resulted in criminal charges, Weissmann said he thinks Trump would likely say “that he was not aware of certain facts and certain valuations and blame underlings.”
The Trump family has claimed that the investigations were politically motivated and have denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Weissmann served as a lead prosecutor on the Mueller investigation that wound up in 2019 declining to reach a judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice, and finding there was insufficient evidence to bring conspiracy charges against Trump. It also resulted in charges being filed against 34 people.