This probe into the criminal charges is no longer just about Trump, its scope seems to have expanded.
- Latest developments suggest that the grand jury has been convened to decide whether or not to indict the former president.
- One of the focus areas of this grand jury investigation is the inflation and deflation of assets by the Trump Organization.
- In his trademark style, the former President has labelled it a ‘witch hunt’, the biggest in American history.
- With the backdrop of the impending grand jury investigations, more employees have come forth to share their side of the story.
Manhattan district attorney (DA) has convened a grand jury that will hear and weigh evidence in the criminal probe against former US President Donald Trump and his organization. People in the loop have claimed that the latest developments suggest that the grand jury has been convened to decide whether or not to indict the former president as well as close family members, other executives and the business itself.
This probe into the criminal charges is no longer just about Trump, its scope seems to have expanded. The decision to constitute a grand jury in the first place indicates that DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of Trump has advanced significantly and that he may have found concrete evidence of criminal activities, if not by Trump, then someone close to him.
Trump Cries ‘Witch Hunt’
One of the focus areas of this grand jury investigation is the inflation and deflation of assets by the Trump Organization. The Washington Post reported that prosecutors will look into Trump’s business dealing before in 2016-election, and investigate the alleged manipulation of real estate value in a bid to defraud banks and insurance companies.
The role of top-level Trump Organization executives, many of whom are close family members, including daughter Ivanka Trump, will also reportedly be examined in this probe.
In his trademark style, the former President has labelled it a ‘witch hunt’, the biggest in American history. Responding to the grand jury probe, Trump, in his statement, said, “This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it’s never stopped.”
Trump evoked the same rhetoric of rigged elections and corrupt systems in his response. He also said that no other president in history has had to deal with this kind of scrutiny, and promised to fight back, “like I have been for the last five years.”
“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history.”Former President Donald Trump
Former Trump Associates Bring Out the Dirt on Him
Even though the inner workings of the Trump Organization have largely remained opaque and mysterious, some sense of how the fraudulent system worked is beginning to take shape in the public sphere with former employees and associates sharing bits and pieces of information about financial misdealings.
Back in 2019, Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to Donald Trump, went on record to state that Trump inflated his assets when it served a purpose, such as being listed among the wealthiest people in the world, and deflated them when needed, as in the case of reducing real estate taxes.
More recently – with the backdrop of the impending grand jury investigations – more employees have come forth to share their side of the story.
Jack O’Donnell, the former president and COO of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and author of the book ‘Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump’ – and a known critic of the former President – in an interview to MSNBC confirmed inflation and documented repeat tax evasions within the organization during his time there.
“It’s all about money with Donald and the organization. There are two forms of money – actual cash and what’s on paper. They don’t have to look the same or tally. The numbers can look very different. I was asked to build false financials for my business, specifically requested by his brother Robert Trump, attorney Harvey Freeman, and Donald Trump himself,” he told MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
Delving deeper into the incident, he added, “All numbers went through Allen Weisselberg – the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, regardless of the business you were in. The year the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlanta was to open there was a lot of scrutiny. When I submitted my numbers, I was called to New York and put in a room with Harvard and Robert, and they said, these numbers won’t work. Even after I explained that this was due to expansion in capacity, they said Allen and Donald won’t accept it and I’d have to redo the numbers. After that meeting, I went to Donald’s office. He asked me if I had been briefed about redoing numbers. I offered to explain why that won’t work but he said we need new numbers.”
“Cooking of the books was a standard practice, which started out of desperation because, otherwise, they couldn’t have gotten loans or bondholders to finance ventures. After all, they had already borrowed 3 billion dollars worth of money from bondholders, all of whom lost their money, and banks. Eventually, Trump bankrupted every one of his casinos,” O’Donnell says.
Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of Allen Weisselberg, also spoke to the media about potential or alleged crimes related to tax fraud and tax evasion. She said that Trump and Allen can throw up numbers that don’t add up. Then, there is the matter of them confidentially cutting checks that would amount to tax fraud, tax evasion, and gift taxes.
This claim corresponds with the New York Times investigation that unearthed suspicious tax write-offs worth millions of dollars in form of consulting fees, a portion of which appears to have been paid to Ivanka Trump.
In one of her interviews, Jennifer said, “I know he’s hiding money in escrow and confidentially having checks cut, hiding tax crimes. There’s definitely tax fraud and tax evasion. And I think that there’s just a lot of it – and for the first time, they seem really nervous.”
While the Trump Organization has been consistently rubbishing these claims as figments of disgruntled employees’ imagination, the current turn of events suggests that the former President’s luck with the law may be running out.