The trial of Donald Trump’s family business on fraud and tax evasion accusations started in New York on Monday. The former US president instantly dismissed it as a political spectacle.
The Trump Organization, which is presently headed by Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, two of Donald Trump’s adult sons, has been accused by Manhattan prosecutors of concealing the salary it gave to key employees between 2005 and 2021.
Weeks before the November 8 midterm elections, Trump, who is not named in the lawsuit, blasted the accusations as a “witch hunt” by adversaries.
He said on social media, “The very politicized Democrat Witch Hunt continues, this time in New York… just before the critical Mid-Term Elections, of course.”
The corporation might be subject to penalties of more than $1.5 million if found guilty.
Longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg, one of the accused executives, has already admitted guilt to 15 tax fraud charges and is scheduled to testify against his former employer as part of a plea agreement.
The 75-year-old Weisselberg, a personal friend of the Trump family, said he conspired with the business to get unreported advantages, including a rent-free condominium in an upscale Manhattan area, expensive vehicles for him and his wife, and private school tuition for his grandkids.
Following his plea agreement, Weisselberg has agreed to testify in the trial, where jury selection started on Monday, paying roughly $2 million in fines and penalties and serving a five-month jail term.
According to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, “This plea deal strongly implicates the Trump Organization in a broad variety of illegal activities and compels Weisselberg to offer crucial evidence in the impending trial against the organization.”
Yet, Weisselberg has declined to provide testimony that explicitly links the former president to the plot.
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Several court cases
The suits target two divisions of the Trump family’s vast real estate, golf, and hotel empire.
Even though he isn’t explicitly mentioned in this case, Donald Trump is charged with three of his oldest children as part of a civil probe run by Leticia James, the attorney general of New York.
Democrat James has charged the family with purposely inflating and deflating the worth of their houses to reduce their tax obligations and get better loan and insurance terms.
Her administration is asking for a $250 million punishment against the former president and a ban on his family’s ability to do business in the state.
In addition, the lawsuit demands a five-year ban on Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump from investing in New York real estate.
The 76-year-old Trump, who has strongly suggested but not yet officially declared a presidential bid in 2024, is also up against legal challenges on several previous occasions.
He is the subject of many state and federal investigations regarding his role in the assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, as well as a Justice Department inquiry into the handling of sensitive materials that the FBI obtained from his Florida house during a search.
He must comply with a subpoena issued by the congressional committee looking into the Capitol violence to turn over papers by November 4 and testify under oath by the middle of November.
Trump’s attorney David Warrington has said that his staff will “study and evaluate” the document and “react as appropriate to this unprecedented move” without confirming that Trump had received the subpoena.
Trump would have to provide sworn testimony if he complied.
If he declines, the House of Representatives has the authority to declare him in criminal contempt and propose that he be brought to justice.