The Guilty Plea of Weisselberg: Five Things to Know

Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty on Thursday, marking a significant turning point in New York’s years-long investigation into the business founded and headed by the 45th president.

Weisselberg admitted to what prosecutors called a 15-year tax evasion plan for not paying taxes on $1.76 million in unreported income and pleaded guilty to 15 crimes, including grand larceny and criminal tax fraud, in an indictment filed in the New York State Supreme Court.

Weisselberg was offered a sentence of five months in jail at New York City’s Rikers Island prison (with the possibility of a sentence reduction to a little over three months) and five years’ probation. The sum of $1,994,321 in taxes, penalties, and interest is owed to New York City and New York state tax authorities, all of which he must settle in full.

Here are five facts concerning Weisselberg’s plea agreement that you should know.

The appeal could be seen as a consolation prize

Weisselberg, a close associate of Trump, has agreed to plead guilty, which may feel like a consolation prize to prosecutors who have spent the better part of a year trying to get him to flip against Trump personally rather than just the Trump Organization.

Their goal has been to unearth proof of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the former president, and having a major Trump aide like Weisselberg help them in their probe would have been a big step in that regard.

The former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York Danya Perry told The Hill that “it’s been widely publicly reported that the DA’s office was aggressively trying to flip Weisselberg against individuals and against Trump in particular,” but that “he obviously held out on that and refused to deliver.”

The Trump Organization’s trial will take into account the plea agreement

As part of his plea agreement, Weisselberg agreed to testify against the Trump Organization in its upcoming trial in October. This might be a major victory for prosecutors as they target Trump’s primary business this autumn.

Weisselberg faces 15 allegations, including criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, and fabricating company documents; nine of those charges will be tried against the Trump Organization.

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Weisselberg, the former CFO of The Trump Organization, could cause problems with his testimony.

The Trump Organization’s “defense is going to be very, very complicated” as Perry put it.

The nature of Weisselberg’s agreement with authorities is a major unknown

According to attorneys, there is one major question about Weisselberg’s agreement that has still to be answered.

If he doesn’t “testify truthfully” in the future trial against the Trump Organization, as his plea deal requires him to do, what happens then?

The Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement on Thursday that “the Court promised Weisselberg a sentence of five months in jail to be served on Rikers Island and five years probation, contingent on Weisselberg testifying truthfully in the upcoming criminal trial of the Trump Organization by providing truthful testimony as to the facts underlying his allocution and plea.”

It was decided that Weisselberg would not be awarded immunity for any other offenses

Correct cooperation agreements with federal prosecutors typically include an immunity language stating that cooperating witnesses will not be charged with any additional crimes. The agreement between Weisselberg and the company contains no such provision.

Inquiring minds like Andrew Weissmann and Danya Perry found it intriguing that Weisselberg was not granted complete immunity from prosecution for any and all other possible crimes.

To prevent further legal action, Perry explained that lawyers “often negotiate for covering or immunity for any additional offenses he could have done.” “That’s not how things work around here.”

In the same vein, Daniel Alonso expressed surprise but explained that it makes sense given the brevity of Weisselberg’s agreement.

There’s a legal full-court press now against Trump

After leaving office, most presidents are forgotten about in American politics. The plea deal involving Weisselberg is just one of several legal incidents surrounding the ex-president that have kept him in the headlines.

Most notably, on August 8, federal authorities raided Trump’s Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, and departed with many boxes of secret paperwork.

The DOJ wrongly redacted its memo to AG Barr on Trump’s obstruction, an appeals court said.

A judge has ordered Starbucks to bring back the workers who spearheaded the unionization movement despite having been dismissed.

The FBI is looking into three possible federal offenses related to Trump, according to an unsealed search warrant. These crimes include violating the Espionage Act, as well as obstructing and influencing government operations by concealing data.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is conducting a civil investigation of Trump, and the FBI is looking into Trump’s involvement in the violence at the Capitol on January 6.