New York prosecutors investigating Donald Trump and the Trump Organization are sharpening their focus on the company's long-serving chief financial officer, delving into his personal and financial affairs, according to reports.
The increasing focus on CFO Allen Weisselberg is aimed at 'flipping' him to cooperate with the investigation - an attempt to turn one of Trump's most important aides into a witness against him, according to the Washington Post.
Weisselberg, 73, has served as CFO to the Trump Organization for more than two decades and could provide prosecutors invaluable information about the inner workings of the company.
Over the last few weeks, prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. have been interviewing witnesses who know Weisselberg, and have also asked them questions about his two adult children, Barry and Jack Weisselberg.
Barry Weisselberg works for the Trump Organization, where he manages the company's ice rinks in Central Park. Jack Weisselberg, meanwhile, works at Ladder Capital Finance, one of Trump's biggest lenders.
The district attorney’s office is examining transactions involving the Weisselberg sons as part of a probe of their father, including a Trump-owned apartment that Barry reportedly lived in rent free for several years, the New York Times reported.
Neither Allen Weisselberg nor his sons have been accused of wrongdoing, however investigators believe the CFO may have an incentive to cooperate with Vance's office should prosecutors find any evidence to suggest otherwise.
The probe is also said to have accelerated recently after Vance brought in Mark F. Pomerantz - an attorney who prosecuted the son of John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family, in the 1990s - to lead witness interviews.
Allen Weisselberg (above), 73, has served as CFO to the Trump Organization for more than two decades and could provide prosecutors invaluable information about the inner workings of the company
Prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. have been interviewing witnesses who know Weisselberg, and have also been asking questions about his two adult children, Barry (right) and Jack (left) Weisselberg.
Who is Allen Weisselberg?
Allen Weisselberg, 73, is the chief financial officer (CFO) of the Trump Organization, a position he's held since 2000.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Weisselberg began his career in the Trump dynasty as an account for real state magnate Fred Trump in the 1970s.
By the late 1980s, he was appointed controller of the organization, working under then-CFO Stephen Bollenbach.
Just over a decade later, in 2000, he succeeded Bollenbach as CFO and was also appointed Vice President of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts.
After Trump's inauguration in 2017, the Trump Organization announced that Weisselberg would manage the company with Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for the duration of his presidency.
Weisselberg was also a board member and severed as treasurer for the Donald J. Trump Foundation, set up during Trump's White House bid.
In a 2017 deposition, Weisselberg told NY investigators that the charity's board never met, the organization had 'no policy' for determining whether its spending followed nonprofit laws, and charity had been co-opted by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, in violation of a ban preventing charities from being mixed with politics.
If the DA's office secures Weisselberg's cooperation, it could prove a significant boost to the long-running investigation and deliver a blow to Trump, who has long depended on his CFO's loyalty.
Weisselberg has been CFO of the Trump Organization since 2000 and handles nearly all of the company's financial transactions.
According to the Washington Post, he once described himself during a deposition as Trump's 'eyes and ears ... from an economic standpoint.'
Vance's investigation into Trump and his company initially began with a focus on the Trump Organization's reimbursement, through Weisselberg's office, of a 2016 hush-money payments made by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, to women claiming to have had affairs with him.
In that instance, Weisselberg was given limited immunity as part of a federal investigation that resulted in Cohen pleading guilty to campaign-finance violations and being jailed for three years.
The investigation has since broadened into a wider review of the company's dealings with a variety of external entities, including Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital - Jack Weisselberg's employer.
And last month, Vance's team won big when the Supreme Court rejected a last ditch attempt by Trump to block a subpoena for his financial records, allowing them to obtain eight years of the former president's tax returns.
Now, prosecutors have turned their attentions to Weisselberg, scrutinizing his work in helping to assess the value of Trump buildings as the company sought to obtain loans or property tax reductions from the likes of Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital, the Washington Post reported.
The DA's office is examining whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of some of its most prominent properties - including Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue - to obtain the best possible loan, while low-balling values to reduce taxes.
Vance's team have also made inquiries about a Trump-owned luxury apartment where Weisselberg’s son Barry lived for seven years, beginning in 2005.
Weisselberg has been CFO of the Trump Organization since 2000 and handles nearly all of the company's financial transactions
The probe is said to have accelerated in recent weeks after Vance (left) brought in Mark F. Pomerantz (right) - an attorney who prosecuted the son of John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family, in the 1990s - to lead witness interviews
Trump and Rudy Giuliani are served in lawsuit that accuses them of inciting Jan. 6 riots
Former President Donald Trump and his ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been served in a civil rights lawsuit that alleges the former president conspired with Giuliani and members of far-right extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election.
The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that attorneys for Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the NAACP delivered the lawsuit to the former president at Mar-a-Lago.
Giuliani's lawyer, Joseph D. Sibley, accepted the papers on behalf of the former mayor of New York.
The federal lawsuit accuses Trump of inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol and conspiring with his lawyer, Giuliani, and extremsit groups to try and prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election he lost to now President Joe Biden.
Thompson's lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress.
It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.
The case also names as defendants Giuliani and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege.
Lawyers for Trump have denied that he incited the riot.
Located in the Trump Parc East building, on Central Park South, last year Jennifer Weisselberg, Barry's ex-wife, told Bloomberg that the couple had lived there rent free.
She said she believed at the time the apartment was a wedding gift from Donald and Melania Trump.
Records observed by the Post show the unit belonged to a Trump-owned entity, Trump CPS LLC., and was later sold in 2014 for $2.8 million.
Market rent on the apartment would have totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars over the seven years Barry and his ex-wife lived there for.
According to the IRS, if an employer provides an apartment rent-free to a worker, it should typically be considered part of the employee's compensation and is therefore subject to income tax.
It's not known how Barry Weisselberg or the Trump Organization treated the apartment for tax purposes, but prosecutors are said to be examining portions of Barry Weisselberg's tax returns.
Vance's team has also been analyzing the finances of the Trump cash-only skating rink in Central Park where Barry Weisselberg works.
All the while, investigators have been asking details about Allen Weisselberg's financial history and his feelings about Trump.
'All the real estate that he’s had. Every house, every car, every perk. The way his lifestyle goes. Is he frugal? Is he generous?,' one of the people interviewed recalled being asked to the Post. 'What’s his relationship with Donald? . . . How loyal is each person to each other?'
Vance's Trump inquiry is said to have taken on new urgency since the recent hiring of Mark Pomerantz, an attorney who prosecuted the Gambino crime family boss in the 1990s.
Vance has sat in on recent interviews but let Pomerantz lead the questioning, sources told the Post.
In those sessions, Pomerantz has focused on Weisselberg, asking wide-ranging questions about the accountant, in an apparent effort to build a broader profile of him.
One interviewee recounted being asked if they had met his wife, or if they'd ever been invited over to his home.
Prosecutors are said to be examining portions of Barry Weisselberg's (above) tax returns, though he has not been accused of any wrongdoing
A Trump-owned luxury apartment where Weisselberg’s son Barry lived for several years, beginning in 2005, is also being probed (seen above)
Vance's team has also been analyzing the finances of the Trump cash-only skating rink in Central Park where Barry Weisselberg works
Investigators have also asked witnesses about loans made by Ladder Capital Finance - Jack Weisselberg's employer - to the Trump Organization, including questions about the financial health of the company's buildings, including occupancy levels and total rent paid by tenants.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Ladder Capital has loaned the Trump Organization more than $270 million related to four buildings in Manhattan. However those deals were signed by other executives, not Jack Weisselberg.
It's unclear if Allen Weisselberg has so far provided any testimony to Vance's office.
The 73-year-old has, however, testified in previous investigations, including a 2017 probe into Trump's charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Weisselberg told investigators for the New York attorney general that the charity's board never met, and that the organization had 'no policy' for determining whether its spending followed nonprofit laws.
He also revealed that the charity had been co-opted by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, in violation of a ban preventing charities from being mixed with politics.
Weisselberg's testimony was later used against Trump in a lawsuit that ended up with the former president being ordered by a judge to stump up $2 million.
A source close to the Trump Organization told the Post the company's executives are confident in Weisselberg's loyalty
The CFO also previously accepted a deal from federal prosecutors focused on Cohen’s hush-money payments.
Neither Weisselberg, his sons, or the Trump Organization has spoken publicly on the apparent new focus of Vance's investigation.
Trump himself has previously lamented the probe, calling it a 'witch hunt' and a 'fishing expedition'.
A source close to the Trump Organization told the Post the company's executives are confident in Weisselberg's loyalty.
Michael Cohen, meanwhile, who Weisselberg testified against in the hush money probe tweeted Tuesday: 'Remember that Allen Weisselberg received (federal) immunity from the SDNY to provide information and testify against me for the @StormyDaniels payment #KarmaBoomerang.'