Michael Cohen is suing the US government for $20 million, claiming the Trump DOJ returned him to prison because he refused to stop writing about his ex-boss

michael cohen
Michael Cohen leaving a federal court in New York.

  • Michael Cohen was imprisoned in 2018 but was allowed in May 2020 to serve out his sentence at home.
  • Two months later, Cohen was returned to prison.
  • Cohen is now suing the US, saying the Trump DOJ punished him for writing a book about Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Cohen has sued the US government for $20 million in damages, accusing Donald Trump’s administration of sending him back to prison for writing a critical book about the former president.

Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2018 after he was convicted of a string of crimes, including lying to Congress.

Following an outbreak of COVID-19 at Cohen’s prison in upstate New York, Cohen was released on furlough in May 2020 and permitted to spend the remainder of his sentence under home confinement in Manhattan.

However, during negotiations about the conditions of his confinement in July, Cohen was returned to prison after refusing to agree to the terms of his imprisonment.

Cohen had refused sign an agreement forbidding him from working on his book about Trump, Lanny Davis, a Cohen associate, told Mother Jones.

Cohen’s book, “Disloyal,” was eventually published in September and contained scathing anecdotes about Trump. In one, Cohen described catching Trump staring at his teenager daughter, and asking: “When did she get so hot?”

The Trump Organization reportedly sent Cohen a cease-and-desist letter in prison, claiming the writing of the book violated Cohen’s nondisclosure agreement with the company.

While back in prison, Cohen appealed government’s decision, and a judge granted his release in late July. Cohen has been under house arrest since, and is due to complete is sentence this November.

On Friday, Cohen sued the US government for $20 million in damages, NBC News reported.

In the complaint, Cohen said he had endured “emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of freedom” after being returned to prison, NBC News reported.

Cohen says government officials conducted “false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, wrongful confinement, and retaliation” against Cohen, according to the outlet.

Cohen’s attorney, Jeffrey Levine, said in a statement carried by NBC News: “Mr. Cohen was the personal attorney to the President of the US and if he could be thrown in jail for desiring to write a critical book of the President one’s imagination need not go far before realizing that such unacceptable and constitutionally violated conduct could be directed at any of us.”

“That is not hyperbole and not acceptable.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg worried about prosecutors getting his financial documents in 2018, ex-daughter-in-law says

Jennifer Weisselberg
Trump Organization CFO’s ex-daughter-in-law Jennifer Weisselberg carries boxes of documents and a laptop giving to prosecutors outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021.

  • Allen Weisselberg took steps to avoid showing pay stubs as federal prosecutors investigated Michael Cohen, his ex-daughter-in-law says.
  • He struck an unusual rental agreement that’s now leading to her eviction, Jennifer Weisselberg said.
  • The Trump Organization CFO is now a key figure in the Manhattan DA’s probe of the company.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg took measures to keep his financial documents from prosecutors examining the company’s practices as far back as 2018, according to his former daughter-in-law.

In a series of interviews with Insider, Jennifer Weisselberg described in detail how the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, who is reportedly a target in the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the company, made an unusual housing arrangement for her as she divorced his son, Barry. The arrangement allowed Allen Weisselberg to act as a guarantor on an Upper West Side apartment without showing any proof of income, she said.

Complications from that arrangement arose in recent weeks, as court records show her landlord is trying to evict her – a measure she claims is retaliation for her cooperation with prosecutors.

Allen Weisselberg’s arrangement has allowed her to live in an apartment building managed by one of his friends in the real estate business, she said. The friend, real estate mogul Lawrence Gluck, permitted her to live in the unit without requiring her or Allen Weisselberg to show any proof of income, she said.

Rental agreements typically require tenants and guarantors to show pay stubs or tax forms demonstrating income of at least 40 times the monthly rent amount. Jennifer Weisselberg said the arrangement allowed Allen Weisselberg to avoid showing pay stubs from the Trump Organization.

She also said she preferred to live in a different apartment building, but Allen Weisselberg forced her to live in that location because of Gluck’s closeness to himself and to now-former president Donald Trump.

“I found several other apartments,” Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. “And he said, ‘No, you’re going to have to move. I called Larry Gluck, and because Donald and Larry and I have a long history of doing real estate together for decades. He’s going to allow me to be the guarantor without having to show any actual financial documents.'”

Allen Weisselberg took the measures to ensure no one would see Trump Organization payroll documents, she said.

An attorney for Allen Weisselberg declined to comment.

It’s “highly unusual” for a landlord to agree not to scrutinize a tenant and guarantor’s income to rent out an apartment, according to Samuel Himmelstein, a New York City-based tenant’s rights lawyer.

“I’ve never seen a situation where the landlord didn’t scrutinize the income of the guarantor in that situation,” Himmelstein said. “Because then he’d potentially have two people who weren’t able to cover the rent.”

The Trump Organization CFO was worried about federal prosecutors, according to Jennifer Weisselberg

Jennifer Weisselberg said the rental agreement was struck at a time when federal prosecutors in Manhattan were investigating Michael Cohen, who at the time was a Trump Organization executive and personal lawyer for Donald Trump.

The lease agreement was signed in October 2018 and has been renewed since then, contracts reviewed by Insider show.

Earlier that year, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York raided Cohen’s office. Prosecutors ultimately secured a guilty plea on charges of tax evasion and campaign finance violations for a plot that involved Cohen using Trump Organization funds to pay off and silence Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who said she had an affair with Trump. Trump was openly furious about the investigation and Cohen’s plea agreement.

Allen Weisselberg was worried about becoming ensnared in the investigation himself, his former daughter-in-law said.

“It’s because he didn’t want to share financials during the SDNY investigation,” Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. “He doesn’t want them out there.”

michael cohen trump tower elevator
Michael Cohen in Trump Tower in 2016.

In sentencing memos filed that December, federal prosecutors made clear that Cohen acted at Trump’s direction. As president of the United States, Trump was immune from federal prosecution at the time. Since Trump left office in February of this year, neither federal prosecutors in Manhattan or any other division of the Justice Department have given any public indication that they seek to charge him in the case, as Insider’s C. Ryan Barber and Warren Rojas previously reported.

While federal prosecutors may be leaving the Trump Organization alone, Cohen’s comments and public testimony about how the Trump Organization handles its finances sparked multiple state-level investigations in New York.

Allen Weisselberg is now a key figure in those investigations. Prosecutors are seeking his cooperation and reportedly examining whether he should be charged with criminal conduct.

Allen Weisselberg is a key figure in Trump investigations in New York

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is in the end stages of an investigation into whether the company and Trump himself distorted property valuations in order to reap tax, loan, and insurance benefits. Those acts could lead to charges for tax, wire, and insurance fraud, legal experts say.

That investigation is running in tandem with a probe in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which is examining many of the same issues. Vance’s office has empaneled a special grand jury and earlier this month reportedly heard testimony from Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney, who is said to work closely with Allen Weisselberg.

Allen Weisselberg has worked with the Trump family for more than 40 years, overseeing their personal finances in addition to his role as the Trump Organization’s CFO. Prosecutors have been seeking his cooperation to help guide them through the possibly hundreds of thousands of pages of financial documents they already subpoenaed from the company.

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Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. in 2017.

Jennifer Weisselberg has been cooperating with investigators from both offices since last fall. She’s given interviews with investigators several times, she said, and handed over “several boxes of documents” stemming from her divorce, which include financial documents related to the Trump Organization. She told Insider that prosecutors have asked her about how the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg operate, and have pressured family members in order to get Weisselberg to “flip.”

It’s not clear whether Allen Weisselberg has already agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and whether he has been asked to testify in front of the grand jury. Prosecutors typically strive to secure a cooperation agreement with witnesses before calling them before a grand jury, so that the witnesses don’t receive immunity for their testimony.

Jennifer Weisselberg says her former father-in-law is behind an effort to evict her

The legal complications stemming from Jennifer and Allen Weisselberg’s unusual rent agreement have reached a new phase in recent weeks.

In early 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic struck, Jennifer Weisselberg said she lost her job managing musical theater acts and fell behind on rent payments for the apartment.

In November, Columbus Manor LLC, the entity that owns the Upper West Side apartment building, sued Jennifer and Allen Weisselberg and alleged they owed $54,450 in unpaid rent that had accrued since February 2020. The company is owned by Stellar Management, which is run by Lawrence Gluck.

Columbia Manor LLC withdrew the lawsuit on April 29, without Allen or Jennifer Weisselberg filing a response in court, records reviewed by Insider show. CBS News first reported on the existence of the lawsuit.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that in April, her building manager told her that her back pay was “made whole.” She said the manager, Trevor Matwey, said the back pay was made by a law firm directly through Stellar Management and he could not produce a receipt for her. She told Insider that she believed Allen Weisselberg made the payment.

“They won’t show me proof that it’s been paid,” Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider. “Trevor Matwey in the management office said, ‘Jenn, you’re good to go. All of the back pay has been worked out. You’re good. You don’t owe anything.'”

After the lawsuit was withdrawn and believing her rent had been paid, she said she signed papers to renew her lease for May. But on May 18, Columbus Manor LLC filed a new lawsuit, naming only Jennifer Weisselberg as the defendant. The new lawsuit claimed that her lease expired on April 30, that “no renewal is required” for the lease, and that she should be evicted.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that, because she believes the rent has been made whole, she should not be evicted from her apartment. She believes Allen Weisselberg is behind the eviction lawsuit from Stellar Management because she has cooperated with the investigations into the Trump Organization and spoken to the media about it.

jennifer weisselberg manhattan da investigator
A DA investigator carries boxes of documents and a laptop from Jennifer Weisselberg outside her apartment in Manhattan, New York on April 8, 2021.

The new lawsuit says that Jennifer Weisselberg should further owe the real estate company the agreed-upon $6,050 monthly rent for the apartment until she leaves the premises. It does not mention the $54,450 the company previously said she owed.

Columbia Manor LLC is seeking to evict Jennifer Weisselberg through an ejection order in New York state court. Himmelstein told Insider that landlords rarely file for eviction through that mechanism without also seeking back rent.

“Typically, the landlords seek possession of the apartment and they also seek the back rent,” Himmelstein said. “So is it unusual that they didn’t also sue for the back rent? Yes, that’s unusual.”

A representative for Gluck and Stellar Management said they would not comment on an individual tenant’s financial situation. Kevin Cullen, the attorney leading the eviction litigation against Jennifer Weisselberg, declined to comment. Matwey didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Jennifer Weisselberg told Insider that she expects to be able to remain in her apartment for now because of New York state’s eviction moratorium, which runs through September. She expects she’ll owe thousands of dollars more in legal fees to fight the lawsuit.

allen weisselberg mike pence and donald trump in trump tower 2017
Allen Weisselberg, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump in Trump Tower in 2017.

She said she has already liquidated part of her 401(k) to pay for ongoing civil litigation with her ex-husband over matrimonial disputes, which she believes Allen Weisselberg controls and finances. The attorney representing Barry Weisselberg in the case didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Jennifer Weisselberg said that the eviction is yet another way her former father-in-law has exerted control over her – and Barry’s – lives. In earlier interviews with Insider, she described how the Trump Organization arranged for the couple to receive perks like apartments and tuition payments in lieu of a regular salary to avoid taxes and influence their decisions.

“It’s so controlling,” she told Insider in March. “Because if you want to leave and make the same money – you live there. If you want to leave, where are you going to live?”

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A special grand jury is secretly hearing from witnesses in the Manhattan DA’s Trump investigation. Here’s how it’ll decide whether to bring criminal charges.

Manhattan District Attorney cyrus vance jr da
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in 2020.

  • The Manhattan DA’s office convened a “special grand jury” in its Trump investigation last month.
  • Jurors will decide whether to criminally charge Trump, the Trump Organization, or its executives.
  • Here’s a breakdown of how a special grand jury works, as well as what evidence and witnesses will likely come before jurors as they meet in secret.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In a courtroom in downtown Manhattan, the district attorney’s office is marshaling paperwork and secretly whisking witnesses in front of a “special” grand jury for what may be one of the most consequential criminal cases in the history of the United States.

The grand jury is “special” in two ways. It’ll be convened for six months, rather than one month, which is standard. It also could be asked to do something no one has ever done before: indict a former president.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into Donald Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s finances appears to have reached an advanced stage. Prosecutors are expected to announce whether they’re bringing any criminal charges before the end of the year, and the special grand jury – a group of 23 ordinary citizens – will be the ones to make the final call.

Here’s how the process works.

What does a special grand jury do?

The precise rules for grand juries and criminal charges vary by state. Under New York law, which governs the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, a felony charge – a criminal charge that would result in a year or more in prison – may go to trial only if a grand jury decides to file an indictment.

A grand jury in New York consists of 23 people. Sixteen jurors must be present in order to make charging decisions, and 12 must vote in favor of bringing an indictment. They must meet in secret and are not permitted to discuss the case with anyone outside the jury. Grand juries can also issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to testify.

Most grand juries meet for one month and hear multiple cases. According to The Washington Post, the Manhattan DA has empaneled a “special” grand jury that will last up to six months in order to hear evidence from the Trump investigation and decide whether to bring an indictment.

Special grand juries are typically empaneled to review evidence for more sophisticated cases like Trump’s, which spanned two years and involves possibly millions of pages of documents. Court documents suggest that the office of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. has been investigating whether the Trump Organization, its executives, or Donald Trump himself broke tax laws by keeping two sets of books. One set would have shown assets of little value, in order to pay little in taxes; another would have shown significant profits in order to receive favorable loan and insurance rates. Legal experts expect Vance to make a case for tax, bank, and insurance fraud charges.

donald trump
Donald Trump in 2020.

A judge may extend the special grand jury beyond the allotted six months, though Vance is widely expected to announce a charging decision before he retires at the end of December. The special grand jury, like regular grand juries, may also hear more than one case depending on how Vance’s office decides to schedule it.

Grand juries are meant to function as a check on government power. Prosecutors need to convince a majority of jurors that there’s probable cause to charge someone with a crime; only then can a case go to trial.

“The grand jury was designed to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, government, before you just start taking anybody you feel like to trial and convicting them and tossing them into jail or cutting their heads off, we’re going to make you present evidence first and satisfy a group of people to show that we have a case,'” said Randy Zelin, an attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP and former prosecutor.

But in reality, defense lawyers like Zelin say, grand juries almost always agree with prosecutors.

In a trial, a judge oversees the process, defense lawyers can put up a defense or call their own witnesses, and prosecutors must overcome the challenge of getting a jury to reach a unanimous verdict.

But prosecutors determine which witnesses to bring and what evidence to show a grand jury – and the verdict doesn’t need to be unanimous.

new york state manhattan supreme court
The judge’s bench is seen at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 21, 2020.

What evidence will jurors review?

Earlier this year, Vance’s office won what’s likely the biggest prize in their investigation. After two Supreme Court decisions, the district attorney’s office was finally able to obtain the Trump Organization’s tax documents in February.

Those documents include Trump’s tax returns, which he has fought vociferously to keep from the public and which he has repeatedly lied about. Legal experts say the documents also likely include email communications between Trump Organization officials, insurance brokers, third-party accountants, and banks about what would go into those tax returns. If the communications show that Trump Organization officials sought to distort the true value of the company’s properties, that could amount to tax and wire fraud, according to the legal experts.

Prosecutors have been examining that documentation for months. Now, they will present those documents as exhibits before the grand jury.

donald trump jr allen weisselberg
Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, Donald Trump Jr.

Aside from the subpoenaed tax documents, prosecutors may present jurors with financial documents provided by cooperating witnesses.

Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, obtained seven boxes of documents as part of an acrimonious divorce from Barry Weisselberg, Allen’s son. She gave those documents to prosecutors in the fall, and in interviews with Insider said they may include evidence that Allen Weisselberg distorted employee compensation in a way that may break tax laws.

Barry Weisselberg is also a key Trump Organization employee, as the manager of the cash-only Wollman rink in Central Park. Prosecutors may also be examining documentation about the rink’s operations for potential tax fraud, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The financial documents investigators gathered may be complex and difficult for a grand jury to comprehend. That poses a challenge for Vance’s office. Under New York state law, prosecutors can’t present “hearsay evidence,” or prosecutors’ personal summaries of the evidence, to grand juries. Instead, prosecutors must provide the underlying documentation directly to the jurors.

cyrus vance
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. speaks at a news conference about dismissing some 3,000 marijunana smoking and possession cases in New York City, U.S., September 12, 2018.

Prosecutors can also get third parties to present evidence, including charts and summaries, for them. Vance’s office is working with FTI Consulting, a forensic accounting firm, to analyze Trump’s documents, and those accountants may present their analysis to a grand jury.

“There could be summary charts or analyses that are put together by the person who has done that analysis to help the grand jury understand the documents,” said Rebecca Ricigliano, a former first assistant attorney general for the state of New Jersey and longtime federal prosecutor in Manhattan. “You see that all the time in regular trials where there’s complicated financials or complicated issues concerning voluminous documents.”

What witnesses will jurors hear from?

The person or entities under investigation don’t have any say in who’s called as a witness before a grand jury. It’s up to prosecutors to decide who testifies.

By default, anyone who gets called as a witness in front of a grand jury in New York gets “transactional immunity,” meaning they get total immunity from prosecution for any possible crimes related to their testimony. Transactional immunity protects people from being subpoenaed and forced to incriminate themselves.

It also means prosecutors need to secure cooperating witnesses before going to a grand jury. The names of some of those witnesses in the DA’s investigation are already public.

Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive and personal lawyer for the ex-president, told Insider he’s spoken to prosecutors more than a dozen times. Jennifer Weisselberg has helped prosecutors understand the company’s inner workings, which she’s described as corrupt. Both will likely serve as grand jury witnesses, and both declined Insider’s request to discuss their possible role, saying they don’t want to jeopardize the legal process.

On Friday, ABC News reported that Vance’s office brought Jeff McConney, a senior vice president and controller for the Trump Organization, to testify in front of the special grand jury.

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Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors also may have secured less boldfaced names, like tax preparers at Mazers, the firm used by the Trump Organization, or officials at the insurance firm Aon.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors have secured cooperation from Allen Weisselberg, who is widely viewed as a potential key witness for the case. He’s worked for the Trumps for more than four decades, and knows the company’s as well as the family’s finances inside and out. Prosecutors reportedly want him to testify about those finances.

But prosecutors wouldn’t want to just call Weisselberg as a grand jury witness, which would give him immunity from prosecution for any financial crimes he may have committed in his role as CFO.

Ricigliano noted that people shouldn’t assume Weisselberg will make or break the DA’s case.

“It’s hard to judge whether he’s really a make-or-break figure, or if they have been able to compile the evidence they need from multiple other sources,” Ricigliano, now an attorney at Crowell & Moring, told Insider. “You can build a case like building a house. You can either get a crane to drop down a prefab house, or you can build it brick by brick.”

Does Trump himself play any role?

If Trump himself is a subject of the DA’s probe, he wouldn’t be called as a grand jury witness. If prosecutors want to charge him, giving him transactional immunity would defeat the purpose of their investigation.

Still, if a lawyer knows their client is a subject of a probe, they can serve a “grand jury notice” to the district attorney’s office, Zelin told Insider.

Trump Tower
Then President-elect Donald Trump boards the elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017.

If that notice is served, prosecutors may be forced to inform the special grand jury that a particular witness named by the defense attorney is willing to testify. The jurors may then decide to subpoena the witness, giving that person transactional immunity against the prosecutors’ wishes.

“It’s sometimes a sophisticated and savvy move on a defense attorney’s part,” Zelin said.

To head off that scenario, prosecutors will try to make a deal with potential witnesses – called a cooperation or plea agreement – where they’d testify in front of a grand jury and agree to waive transactional immunity.

“Prosecutors are very strategic in thinking through their presentation of evidence to ensure that they are not immunizing a witness who they shouldn’t be immunizing,” Ricigliano said.

What charging decisions can the special grand jury make?

It’s not clear whether Vance will seek to charge Trump, Trump Organization executives, the company – or not bring charges at all.

Former New York Supreme Court chief judge Sol Wachtler said a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich” if a prosecutor told them to because of the amount of control they have over the process. Zelin said because of that dynamic, grand juries can offer prosecutors political cover.

If prosecutors don’t want to pursue a politically inconvenient case, they can blame the grand jury for not bringing an indictment.

But grand juries can also offer protection: Trump has already attempted to tarnish Vance’s investigation by describing it as politically motivated. If a grand jury brings an indictment against Trump, Vance could persuasively say that fellow citizens, not just his office, believe the former president may have committed a crime.

Mark Pomerantz
Mark F. Pomerantz at the press confernce were former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation March 12, 2008 in New York City.

Any charging decisions in this case will be controversial. Democrats sore over Trump’s apparent ability to wriggle out of every scandal will be further rattled if he isn’t personally charged. Trump supporters may be scandalized if he’s held responsible for financial wrongdoing that may have been engineered by other executives like Weisselberg.

Daniel R. Alonso, a former top Vance deputy, previously told Insider there’s a good chance the DA may ask the grand jury to bring charges against only the Trump Organization.

Charging the Trump Organization alone would be a smart strategic move that would further puncture Trump’s image as a successful businessman, possibly cut into his family’s reputation, and provoke less backlash from the 74 million people who voted for him, Zelin said.

“An argument could be made that it’s more devastating,” Zelin said. “If you kill the Trump Organization, basically you kill the Trump family’s means and a rather extravagant high-profile and lavish lifestyle.”

cyrus vance jr federal court
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance arrives at federal court for a hearing related to President Donald Trump’s financial records on October 23, 2019 in New York City.

Ricigliano told Insider that prosecutors don’t typically think about political considerations when they bring cases in front of a grand jury.

She emphasized that prosecutors in Vance’s office – as well as prosecutors with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel investigation – gathered massive amounts of information over the course of their two-year probe, and the public only is aware of a small fraction of it.

Those prosecutors will ultimately bring the best case they have based on the evidence, she said.

“I don’t think that prosecutors view the grand juries as potential scapegoats or ways to alleviate pressure,” Ricigliano said. “It’s part of the system that’s been part of the country since the dawn of the revolution.”

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Prosecutors request that the former judge who served as special master in the Michael Cohen case reprise that role in the Rudy Giuliani investigation

Rudy Giuliani
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington.

  • Prosecutors requested that the former federal judge Barbara Jones serve as special master in Rudy Giuliani’s case.
  • Jones previously served in the same role in the government’s case against Michael Cohen.
  • She currently works at Bracewell LLP, a firm Giuliani used to work at.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Prosecutors on Thursday requested that the former judge Barbara Jones be appointed special master in the government’s case against former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is Donald Trump’s former lawyer.

A special master is someone – typically a retired judge – who reviews documents and records seized in the raid of an attorney’s home or office and filters out materials that may be covered under attorney-client privilege.

Jones previously served as the US District Judge for the Southern District of New York and now works at the law firm Bracewell LLP, where Giuliani also used to be a partner, though their time did not overlap. She made headlines in 2018, when SDNY prosecutors requested that she be appointed special master in their case against another ex-Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen.

In their filing Thursday, prosecutors noted that Jones “‘efficiently and meticulously reviewed’ tens of thousands of items over a period of four months and made privilege designations that were not objected to by the parties” in the Cohen case.

US District Judge Kimba Wood, who oversaw the case against Cohen, said at the end of the proceedings that Jones “‘performed her review with extraordinary efficiency and speed, while giving the parties a full opportunity to be heard,’ and she and her law firm showed ‘professionalism and careful attention to detail,'” the filing said.

Prosecutors noted that Giuliani and his law associate Victoria Toensing, both of whom had their property raided in April as part of a wide-ranging investigation into whether the former broke foreign lobbying laws, agreed to the appointment of Jones as special master. They also said they had spoken to Jones about the matter and she said she was available to serve as special master.

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Michael Cohen said he believes Trump will ‘flip on all of them,’ including his children, in the New York investigation into his company

Michael Cohen and Donald Trump
Michael Cohen and Donald Trump.

  • Michael Cohen said he believes Trump will “flip” on everyone as NY investigators probe his company.
  • The state attorney general and Manhattan district attorney’s office are conducting a criminal inquiry into the Trump Organization.
  • “I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them, including his children,” Cohen told MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer and fixer said Wednesday that he believes the former president will “flip” on everyone, including his own family members, as New York investigators tighten the screws on the Trump Organization.

Michael Cohen’s comments came after a spokesperson for New York attorney general Tish James said in a statement that James’ office is now investigating the Trump Organization “in a criminal capacity,” as opposed to a civil probe. James will join forces with the Manhattan district attorney’s office – which is conducting its own separate inquiry into the Trump Organization – in the matter.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Cohen said he believes that while legal scholars and the public wonder whether investigators will be able to flip people close to Trump like his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Trump Organization’s CFO Allen Weisselberg, Trump himself will ultimately be the one to switch sides.

“I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them, including his children,” he said, adding, “I really believe that Donald Trump cares for only himself and he realizes that his goose is cooked.”

Read more: Secret Service protection would follow Donald Trump if he goes to prison, former agents say

Cohen served as Trump’s personal lawyer for more than a decade before federal prosecutors zeroed in on him as part of an investigation into hush-money payments made to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump in the 2000s.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to several felonies including wire fraud, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations that he said he carried out at Trump’s direction. He also pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.

He has since been cooperating with prosecutors in several ongoing investigations and has met multiple times this year with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose investigation into the Trump Organization began as a result of Cohen’s congressional testimony in 2019. Cohen, who is serving out a three-year prison sentence for his crimes, said his meetings with prosecutors in Vance’s office were “not good news” for Trump.

After CNN reported this week that the state attorney general’s investigation had taken on a criminal component, Cohen tweeted out an edited image of Trump behind bars.

“Soon enough, Donald and Associates will be held responsible for their actions,” he said.

During his MSNBC appearance Wednesday evening, Cohen said Trump will try to shift blame for any wrongdoing to everyone but himself, adding that the former president will blame Weisselberg, his accountant, his appraiser, and even his own children.

“This is the problem, it’s never ever Donald Trump. It’s always somebody else,” Cohen said.

A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

New York’s investigations into Trump are examining whether his sprawling real-estate company violated state laws when it facilitated an illegal hush-money payment to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election. According to earlier court filings, investigators suspect the Trump Organization committed tax and insurance fraud including, among other things, by artificially inflating and deflating the value of Trump’s assets for loan and tax purposes.

Weisselberg is said to be a key focus for investigators as they dig into Trump’s finances. And last month, the FBI raided the property of Trump’s most recent defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as part of a separate federal investigation into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine.

Trump, for his part, released a lengthy statement Wednesday attacking the pair of New York investigations as partisan and politically motivated.

The 909-word statement is the longest one Trump has released since he was banned from social media and left office.

“This is something that happens in failed third world countries, not the United States,” the former president lamented.

“If you can run for a prosecutor’s office pledging to take out your enemies, and be elected to that job by partisan voters who wish to enact political retribution, then we are no longer a free constitutional democracy,” Trump, who frequently called for the prosecution and imprisonment of his political opponents while in office, added.

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Michael Cohen tweeted a photoshopped picture of Trump behind bars after New York prosecutors announced a criminal investigation into Trump Organization

michael cohen donald trump regular
A composite image of Michael Cohen and former President Donald Trump.

  • Michael Cohen tweeted a doctored image appearing to show his former boss, Donald Trump, in jail.
  • It was a response to the New York AG’s announcement that the Trump Org. faces a criminal probe.
  • Cohen is Trump’s former lawyer and fixer. He started cooperating with prosecutors in 2018.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Cohen tweeted a photoshopped picture showing his former boss, Donald Trump, peerint out from behind bars after the New York Attorney General’s office announced it was investigating the Trump Organization “in a criminal capacity.”

“As more documents are reviewed by the #NYAG and #NYDA, it appears that the troubles for Donald #Trump will keep on coming! Soon enough, Donald and Associates will be held responsible for their actions,” Cohen tweeted on Tuesday night.

Cohen previously served as Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, and started working with prosecutors to testify against Trump in 2018.

The Tuesday announcement from the New York Attorney General’s office compounds Trump’s legal woes.

The former president is already facing a criminal investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who is reportedly looking into possible fraud and tax crimes at the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Trump’s various businesses.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and claims that the investigations are politically motivated. Both James and Vance are Democrats.

The Washington Post reported, citing a source close to the investigation, that the two prosecutors’ offices are to work together in some respects in their investigations into the Trump Organization. The New York AG’s statement did not mention Vance’s office.

Cohen was once a member of Trump’s inner circle, and a trusted confidante.

However the relationship soured in 2017 after Cohen came under investigation for hush-money payments he paid to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, and for lying to Congress over Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

Cohen served a jail sentence for those crimes, and has become one of his Trump’s most critical former aides.

In 2018, he started cooperating with prosecutors who were investigating his work with Trump, and testified to Congress in 2019. He also wrote a book about his experience working for Trump, calling the former president a racist, a conman, and a tax cheat.

Prosecutors working for Vance’s office have interviewed Cohen about his time working for the Trump Organization. Cohen tweeted after those meetings that they did not spell good news for Trump.

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Michael Cohen says Trump won’t give Giuliani ‘2 cents’ to help his ex-attorney pay his mounting legal bills

Michael Cohen MSNBC
Michael Cohen in an appearance on MSNBC on May 7 discussed Rudy Giuliani’s legal woes

  • Michael Cohen in an MSNBC interview discussed Rudy Giuliani’s legal woes.
  • He predicted that Trump wouldn’t be helping Giuliani pay his mounting legal bills.
  • Both Cohen and Giuliani got embroiled in legal troubles working as Trump’s personal attorney.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Cohen predicted that Rudy Giuliani would get “stiffed” by Donald Trump amid reports that Giuliani’s seeking financial help from the former president to help him pay hefty legal bills.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid Friday, Cohen was asked about recent reports that allies of Giuliani have asked the former president to help Giuliani financially as he faces lawsuits and a federal investigation.

According to reports, Giuliani has had to lay off members of his personal staff as his legal woes mount.

“He’s going to get stiffed. All right?” Cohen said, adding that Trump “does not pay legal bills.”

“Nor does he learn from his previous mistakes, which is the same exact thing that he did to me,” Trump’s former lawyer added. “He doesn’t care about anyone or anything other than himself.”

Both Cohen and Giuliani worked as Trump’s personal attorney and became embroiled in legal troubles as a consequence of the role.

Trump dispatched Giuliani to search for damaging information about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine in 2019. Federal investigators have raided Giuliani’s offices and apartment as part of their probe into whether he was working on behalf of Ukrainians in the push for dirt on the Bidens.

Giuliani also led Trump’s bid to overturn the result of last year’s presidential election and faces two multi-billion dollar lawsuits from voting machine companies Dominion and Smartmatic for groundlessly claiming that they flipped millions of votes.

Giuliani has denied any allegations of wrongdoing in Ukraine and has said he welcomes the lawsuits as they’ll provide an opportunity to further investigate the election machine companies.

Cohen was formerly one of the most trusted members of Trump’s inner circle and was jailed in 2019 for lying to Congress and financial crimes relating to hush money payoffs to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

He has turned on his former boss, and in a memoir, last year alleged that Trump is a racist and conman who has committed tax and financial crimes.

Trump has denied Cohen’s claims and claims he is a serial liar.

In the interview, Friday Cohen claimed that Trump had abandoned him when he got into legal trouble and would do the same to Giuliani. He welcomed the former New York City mayor to the “under the bus club.”

“He thought Donald Trump was going to pay him $140,000 a day. He has a better chance of sling-shooting himself to the moon,” Cohen said.

“It’s impossible. Donald Trump wouldn’t pay him two cents,” he continued. “His feeling is, it is an honor and a privilege to go to prison for him, to do his dirty work.”

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Michael Cohen says he thinks Rudy Giuliani’s legal problems will go beyond the Ukraine dealings ‘because Rudy is actually a stupid guy’

Michael Cohen MSNBC
Michael Cohen speaking with MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

  • Michael Cohen said he thinks Rudy Giuliani’s legal battles will go beyond his Ukraine dealings.
  • The FBI raided Giuliani’s office and apartment on Wednesday as part of a probe into those dealings.
  • Cohen said: “But that’s not where it’s gonna stop. Because Rudy is actually a stupid guy.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Cohen said he thinks the legal problems facing Rudy Giuliani will go beyond the investigation into his Ukraine dealings.

FBI agents raided the office and apartment of Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, on Wednesday as part of an investigation into whether he broke foreign-lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.

Cohen, who previously served as Trump’s lawyer and fixer, told MSNBC on Thursday that he thinks Giuliani’s legal problems will mount further.

“It may start with just the Ukraine. But that’s not where it’s gonna stop. Because Rudy is actually a stupid guy. Rudy has no idea about technology,” he said.

He did not offer any further detail, but suggested that Giuliani may have said something to implicate himself online or in conversations with people.

He added that Giuliani “says very dumb things, especially when he starts drinking” and that Giuliani goes “running around the world talking to people about how in fact he’s Donald Trump’s right hand guy and he can get everything done.”

Watch the interview here:

Cohen also said he believes that Giuliani would flip on Trump “to protect himself.”

“He knows he’s got problems. He knows its not going to end well,” Cohen said, noting Giuliani’s experience as a prosecutor.

Giuliani’s attorney has said the FBI raid was a “clear example of a corrupt double standard.”

Cohen made similar points while speaking on CNN on Thursday.

He told CNN: “We have no idea how expansive this investigation is going to ultimately reveal itself because Rudy’s an idiot. And that’s the problem. Rudy drinks too much, Rudy behaves in such an erratic manner that who knows what’s on those telephones or what’s on his computers.”

Cohen had his own properties raided in 2018, before he struck a plea deal and cooperated with investigators in the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.

He’s currently serving a three-year prison sentence under house arrest. Trump decried him as a “rat” and a liar after Cohen cooperated.

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Meet Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization CFO prosecutors are reportedly trying to flip

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Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. at a press conference in Trump Tower as Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of The Trump Organization, looks on January 11, 2017.

  • Allen Weisselberg has been the Trump Organization’s longtime loyal CFO and family bookkeeper.
  • The Manhattan DA is reportedly trying to “flip” him for its investigation into Trump’s finances.
  • Weisselberg and his family’s close ties to the Trumps go into legal gray areas.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

During the past several years of criminal investigations, Congressional inquiries, and political battles over Donald Trump’s taxes and business dealings, the one man most intimately familiar with them has remained out of the spotlight.

The mustachioed, press-shy Allen Weisselberg has served as the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer for decades, as well as Trump’s personal bookkeeper. Now, he’s reportedly the subject of a wide-ranging inquiry from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Prosecutors are looking into “flipping” Weisselberg into cooperating with an investigation into Trump’s finances, according to the Washington Post. Weisselberg, 73, has loyally served the Trump family since the 1970s and is the only person not a member of Trump’s family to oversee his trust while he was president. Prosecutors are reportedly zeroing in on Weisselberg’s two sons, both of whom also have close ties to the company.

Given his vast familiarity with the Trump family’s finances and their network of companies, Weisselberg could be the most important source for any investigation into Trump’s finances.

He’s also worked with prosecutors before.

Weisselberg knows more about the Trump Organization’s finances than anyone else

Weisselberg got his start with the Trump family in the 1970s as a bookkeeper for Fred Trump.

Over the years, he ascended the ranks of the Trump Organization to become its chief financial officer, and has held the keys to the family’s financial life, as well. (While other reports refer to him as an accountant, Weisselberg does not hold a CPA license, according to New York state records.)

“There’s a misconception about The Trump Organization that it’s this big, massive company with 10,000 employees,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and a vice president for the Trump Organization, said in Congressional testimony. “It’s not. I mean, the entire company was really run by 12 of us.”

Weisselberg’s name made headlines in 2018 and 2019 as federal prosecutors investigated Cohen’s hush-money payments ahead of the 2016 election to women who accused Trump of having affairs with them.

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Michael Cohen.

Cohen released a tape purporting to show Weisselberg discussing how to facilitate the payments and what they might mean for the Trump Organization. And while Cohen ultimately pleaded guilty to federal crimes in connection with the scheme, The Wall Street Journal reported Weisselberg himself received immunity for cooperating with the investigators in the Southern District of New York who prosecuted Cohen, avoiding charges.

While the Manhattan District Attorney’s office likely has all the documents they need for their investigation, Jeff Robbins, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw money-laundering investigations, said that having someone like Weisselberg guide them through all the evidence could be enormously helpful.

“I’m sure the records have been turned over by the hundreds and thousands,” Robbins told Insider. “However, it sure makes it a lot easier if you have somebody who can walk the prosecutors through the documents and explain the sequence, and who would have had direct conversations with Trump.”

Unlike Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, two of Trump’s eldest children who play leading roles in his company, Weisselberg has made few forays into politics. New York state voter registration records reviewed by Insider show that he’s a registered Republican living in Manhattan’s Upper West Side (the building previously carried Trump branding that has since been removed), but he didn’t donate to any of his boss’ presidential campaigns.

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In this Aug. 21, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen leaves federal court, in New York.

But he did donate to two of Trump’s political rivals. FEC records published by the Center for Responsive Politics show that Weisselberg donated to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York’s 2010 campaign and to former Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s presidential campaign in 2008. Both donations predated Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump himself donated to Schumer’s campaigns in the 1990s.

Weisselberg also donated to former Illinois Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, a Democrat who led the House’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, in 1994. The donation came a month before Rostenkowski was criminally indicted for his role in a corruption scandal that ultimately led to his resignation and a guilty plea on mail fraud charges.

Weisselberg and his wife have a home, a short drive away from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, in Boynton Beach, Florida. They’re currently involved in a lawsuit with their homeowner insurance company over damage following 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

Mary Mulligan, an attorney representing Weisselberg at Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, declined to comment for this story.

His family’s financial ties with the Trump Organization go into legal gray areas

The Trumps have always seemed to have a porous wall between their personal finances and their businesses and foundations. In 2019, Trump paid $2 million to settle a lawsuit the New York Attorney General’s office brought, alleging he used resources from The Trump Foundation to boost his political fortunes.

These gray areas reportedly extend to Weisselberg and his family. And they also run into possible legal conundrums.

trump family allen weisselberg
In this file photo taken on January 11, 2017, US President-elect Donald Trump along with his children Eric (L) Ivanka and Donald Jr.(R) arrive for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, accompanied by Allen Weisselberg (2nd R), chief financial officer of The Trump Organization.

In November 2000, according to Bloomberg News, Trump gave a unit at Trump Parc East, a condominium building at 100 Central Park South, to Weisselberg and his wife, Hilary. Records reviewed by Insider show it had a sale price of $152,500, an eye-poppingly low price for prime Manhattan real estate.

The couple sold it to their son Jack Weisselberg in 2003 for $148,000, who sold it for $570,000 in 2006, Bloomberg News reported.

Jack Weisselberg works as a finance director at Ladder Capital, his LinkedIn page says. The firm is one of Trump’s primary real estate lenders, loaning him $280 million to finance four of his Manhattan properties, according to records reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Barry Weisselberg, another one of Allen Weisselberg’s sons, has even closer and more complicated financial ties with the Trumps. He’s an employee at the Trump Organization, having managed the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park, which until recently was run by the company through a contract with New York City.

trump organization wollman ice skating rink central park
Workers clear the ice at Wollman Rink in Central Park, after the city severed several contracts with the Trump Organization, in New York City, U.S., January 14, 2021.

He, too, received an apartment at the Trump Parc East building. According to Bloomberg News, Barry and his now-ex-wife Jennifer Weisselberg received it as a wedding gift in the mid-2000s from Trump and paid for only utilities, at around $400 per month. When the couple moved out, it was rented out for nearly $5,000 per month, and a Trump-owned entity sold it for $2.8 million in 2014, according to Bloomberg.

But while Barry and Jennifer Weisselberg both lived there, Barry listed it as a corporate apartment in his divorce proceedings, Bloomberg News reported. Their tax returns, though, according to Bloomberg News, didn’t always list the apartment as a corporate perk. The designation may mean that Barry Weisselberg and the Trump Organization itself may have not paid the correct amount of taxes on the apartment, Bloomberg’s Caleb Melby reported.

That apartment – and its tax ramifications – are a subject of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s investigation, according to the Washington Post.

“On the question of where Allen Weisselberg stands in the evidence pyramid, he stands right below Donald Trump himself,” Robbins, now an attorney at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, told Insider. “So it does appear to be an exploration on the part of the DA’s office as to whether or not they can flip Allen Weisselberg by leveraging one of his two sons.”

trump parc east building manhattan
Pedestrians pass the Trump Parc East building Tuesday, May 31, 2016, in New York.

The investigation into the Weisselbergs grew out of Vance’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s business dealings with other companies, including Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital. Jack Weisselberg is also a subject of the probe, though it’s unclear if he had any role in loans Ladder Capitol gave to the Trump organization, according to Bloomberg News.

The Trump Organization also gave Barry Weisselberg an Upper East Side townhouse while he was in the divorce process in 2018, according to Bloomberg News. It isn’t clear how Weisselberg and the Trump Organization treated it in tax filings.

While Allen Weisselberg seems to have been loyal to the Trump family for years, Robbin said the pressure on his family could flip him.

“The likelihood of him cooperating goes up significantly if, in fact, the prosecutors have criminal charges that can reasonably be brought against his sons,” Robbins said. “For the simple human reason that what father would not do something unpleasant in order to help his sons out of a legal jam?”

Apartments seem to be a common perk for Trump employees. Cohen also had an apartment in one of Trump’s buildings while working for the mogul, and former communications director Hope Hicks stayed in one “rent-free” during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Matthew Calamari, Trump’s loyal longtime head of security, also has a home in the Trump Parc East building, according to records reviewed by Insider.

Jake Weisselberg and representatives for Ladder Capital didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment. Barry Weisselberg couldn’t be reached for comment. Jennifer Weisselberg didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

He’s cooperated with prosecutors in the past

Weisselberg’s name hasn’t been particularly important in the Manhattan DA’s court battles over Trump’s tax records. But he has played a role in different investigations from federal and state prosecutors.

The CFO testified for federal prosecutors in Manhattan who secured Cohen’s guilty plea. Weisselberg helped the Trump Organization reimburse Cohen the $130,000 hush-money payment he made to Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who said she had sex with Donald Trump during Melania Trump’s pregnancy.

Weisselberg’s name didn’t appear in the charging documents against Cohen, and he was never charged for his participation in the scheme.

michael cohen sentencing court
Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former attorney, arrives for his sentencing at United States Court house in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 12, 2018.

Cohen hasn’t forgiven Weisselberg. When the news broke that prosecutors were looking into Weisselberg’s family, he took to Twitter.

“Remember that Allen Weisselberg received (federal) immunity from the SDNY to provide information and testify against me for the @StormyDaniels payment. #KarmaBoomerang,” Cohen wrote.

In a separate investigation, for Trump’s now-defunct charity foundation, Weisselberg testified for prosecutors working for New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Weisselberg told prosecutors he had little knowledge of the Trump Foundation’s operations and testified he had no knowledge that he was on the Trump Foundation’s board of directors in a deposition transcript reviewed by Insider.

He did, however, testify that the foundation was used to boost Trump’s campaign in 2016. James’ office used the testimony in its lawsuit against the Trump Foundation where a judge forced Trump to pay a $2 million fine.

Weisselberg’s vast knowledge of Trump’s finances has made him a target in civil lawsuits, as well.

He was a defendant in a 2017 lawsuit from William Weinstein, a New York resident who sought to create a mechanism to ensure that Trump wouldn’t take foreign profits as president through the Trump Organization. It was dismissed in short order, with the judge ruling that Weinstein didn’t have the standing to sue. Trump has steadfastly refused to release financial records, and The New York Times reported that Trump has paid far more in foreign taxes over the past two decades than in US taxes.

He’s been less helpful in an ongoing investigation from the New York AG

Weisselberg also testified in a different, ongoing investigation into Trump’s finances from James’ office, sitting for a deposition under subpoena in July and August 2020.

In that case, he was less forthcoming.

A court filing from the New York Attorney General’s office suggests that Weisselberg was questioned about the tax categorization of forgiven loans to the Trump Organization, but wasn’t very helpful.

“When examined by [the office of the attorney general], however, Mr. Weisselberg testified that he had no first-hand knowledge of this fact, had not reviewed the relevant documents to confirm that any such understanding was true, could not identify any return on which the forgiveness was treated as income, and instead was relying solely upon his recollection of conversations he had years earlier with the Trump Organization’s accountants concerning the tax treatment of the amount of the debt that was forgiven,” the filing says.

Letitia James Donald Trump Cyrus Vance
Former President Donald Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The Trump Organization refused to furnish the relevant tax documents, attorneys for the AG office wrote in the filing.

Weisselberg was similarly unhelpful when asked about Seven Springs, a property in upstate New York that Trump has reportedly treated as a tax write-off for nature conservation even though family members have said it’s a personal residence.

The lack of information Weisselberg gave them in his testimony led the attorney general’s office to subpoena the Trump Organization for its tax documents, prosecutors wrote.

Since the Manhattan District Attorney’s office successfully won two Supreme Court battles to obtain Trump’s tax documents, experts say James’ office has a good chance of getting them on its own.

This article has been updated.

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The Supreme Court declined to hear Stormy Daniels’ appeal in her libel lawsuit against Trump

Trump
Then-President Donald Trump on June 5, 2019.

  • The Supreme Court declined to hear Stormy Daniels’ appeal in her libel lawsuit against Donald Trump.
  • Daniels’, legal name Stephanie Clifford, had sued Trump in federal court over a 2018 tweet.
  • In July 2020, a panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that the tweet was not defamatory.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The US Supreme Court is declining to hear Stormy Daniels’ appeal in her libel lawsuit against former President Donald Trump.

Daniels, a prominent adult film actress whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, had sued Trump in federal court in California.

She argued he defamed her in a 2018 tweet where he questioned her story of being intimidated in a parking lot with her young daughter by a man who threatened her against going public with her claims that she had a sexual affair with Trump in 2006, an affair that Trump denies.

Daniels said that as was she planning to tell her story to a magazine in 2011, a man approached her and said “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” while threatening that bad things would happen to her if she went forward. 

It wasn’t until January 2018 that the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump was involved in arranging a substantial hush money payment and nondisclosure agreement with Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election.

“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” Trump tweeted on April 18, 2018, from his now-suspended Twitter account, quote tweeting a posting that suggested the man who Daniels said threatened her could have actually been her ex-husband.

After a US District Court dismissed Daniels’ suit, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Trump and rejected Daniels’ appeal of the dismissal in July 2020, ruling that the tweet was an expression of opinion based on another user’s tweet and not defamatory. Daniels filed an appeal up to the Supreme Court in October 2020.

“Viewed through the eyes of an objectively reasonable reader, the tweet here reflects Mr. Trump’s opinion about the implications of the allegedly similar appearances of Ms. Clifford’s ex-husband and the man in the sketch,” the 9th Circuit panel’s opinion said, characterizing Trump’s tweet as “an opinion” and noting that “statements of opinion cannot form the basis of a defamation claim.”

The 9th Circuit also rejected Daniels’ claim that Trump’s reference to a “total con job” amounted to accusing her of criminal fraud. 

“It would be clear to a reasonable reader that the tweet was not accusing Clifford of actually committing criminal activity,” the opinion said. “Instead, as used in this context, the term ‘con job’ could not be interpreted as anything more than a colorful expression of rhetorical hyperbole.”

stormy daniels
In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of the adult entertainment fair “Venus,” in Berlin.

Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018 to five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, one count of making an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an illegal campaign finance contribution on October 27, 2016.

Trump was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator, “Individual-1,” on some counts in the case.

The final two charges were related to hush money payments made to Daniels and the former Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Both women had threatened to go public with details of extramarital affairs they said they had with Trump in the 2000s.

Cohen said he facilitated a $130,000 payment to Daniels “at the direction of the candidate” and with the “purpose of influencing the election,” which violates campaign finance law by exceeding the maximum contribution of $2,800 that a person can give to a candidate for federal office.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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