Three years ago, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into the Trump Organization. Last year, the organization was charged in what prosecutors called a “sweeping and audacious” tax fraud scheme. On Monday, jury selection in that trial started.
Donald trump is not on trial in this case. The holding company for the former president’s business ventures is.
The Trump Organization is accused of helping senior executives avoid income taxes by paying them off-the-books with things like luxury cars, rent-free apartments in New York City and other substantial under-the-table compensation.
Allen Weisselberg is the former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization. Weisselberg was indicted at the same time as the Trump Organization. He pled guilty to collecting almost $2 million in off-the-books compensation.
Weisselberg is expected to be a star witness at the trial. He worked for the Trump Organization for nearly five decades and has intimate knowledge of the company’s inner-workings. Weisselberg is testifying against his former employer in exchange for a reduced sentence.
The trial is expected to last at least a month.
If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the Trump Organization faces a $1.7 million fine; small potatoes compared to the company’s annual profits. Since the Trump Organization is a privately owned company, a guilty verdict also would not have any impact on stock prices, but it could make it harder for the Trump Organization to get loans and conduct business.
The Manhattan DA’s office said its investigation into Mr. Trump is ongoing, and the former president could still be criminally indicted. Since leaving office, this is the first case with ties to Donald Trump to go to trial, but it likely won’t be the last.
There’s also the New York Attorney General’s civil lawsuit against Trump and the Trump Organization. Last week Trump was deposed in a lawsuit accusing him of raping E. Jean Carroll in the mid 1990s. The FBI’s investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago continues. A Georgia special grand jury is investigating whether Trump tried to sway election results. And the House Jan. 6 committee issued a subpoena to Trump last week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.