Prosecutors in Manhattan are looking into whether former President Donald Trump lied to his own accountants.
The disclosure comes as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office continues its years-long investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization misrepresented his finances to lenders and investors.
Prosecutors discovered that the accountants created financial statements for lenders and investors based on information provided by the Trump Organization.
According to sources familiar with the inquiry, Vance Jr.’s office recently questioned one of Trump’s accountants in front of a grand jury, as well as his longtime banker.
The Trump Organization is also being investigated by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. Prosecutors in Vance’s office are collaborating with prosecutors in James’ office to determine if the former president “cherry-picked” good financial data to show to lenders while suppressing adverse data.
While Trump may not have directly produced the data for the accountants, it has been stated that his approval was evident in the papers examined.
“Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statement in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America,” his accountants wrote in a cover letter attached to the statements in 2011 and 2012.
Authorities are investigating if the financial statements were based on Trump’s own “exaggerated claims,” which might serve as proof that he attempted to deceive his own accountants and lenders.
However, Trump included cautions in the papers that claimed data had not been verified or confirmed, claiming that such disclaimers would enhance his argument.
Their September 2021 scheduled appearance in Manhattan state Supreme Court came almost three months after Vance unveiled a slew of criminal charges alleging that the Trump Organization and Weisselberg were involved in a more than 15-year scheme to defraud taxpayers by providing untaxed benefits to company executives.
Wesselberg has yet to plead guilty to any charges. Trump has repeatedly stated that the case was politically motivated.
The Trump Organization and Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family since 1973, have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The case, according to the former president, is politically motivated.
While the case is in court, prosecutors from Vance’s office have been working with New York state Attorney General Letitia James’ office on an ongoing investigation of Trump’s commercial dealings in the state. There are other indications that Vance and James are working hard on this matter, including a surprise court appearance by counsel for both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization in August.
“The fact that they are having sealed proceedings is consistent with an ongoing grand jury investigation and suggests the district attorney may be considering further charges or defendants,” said Adam Kaufmann, a former investigations division chief at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Vance’s probe began in 2018, shortly after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges connected to hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had extramarital encounters with Trump.
The Trump Organization might face civil penalties as a result of a separate probe begun by James’ office in 2019 after Cohen testified to Congress that Trump altered the value of his properties to secure bank loans and reduce his tax liabilities.
Weisselberg surrendered to New York prosecutors back at the end of June.
Weisselberg voluntarily surrendered at 6:15 a.m. ET on Thursday, June 30, according to his counsel. The district attorney’s office filed an indictment against the Trump Organization and the accusations were made public Thursday afternoon.
The charges against the longtime Trump organization financial officer include improperly avoiding taxes on fringe perks. Prosecutors are looking at benefits like auto leases, Manhattan apartments, and private-school tuition.
The 73-year-old has worked for the Trump family for more than 40 years and is the only person not named Trump that the former president trusts with his money. He organized Trump’s loans, served as a co-signer on his accounts, assisted with his taxes, and oversaw the trust that held all of Trump’s assets while he was in office, with Trump’s sons Don Jr. and Eric.
He “knows of every dime that leaves the building,” Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie wrote last year in their book about Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Weisselberg began working for Trump’s father, Fred, as an accountant in the 1970s. Weisselberg and Trump are only a year apart in age, but their connection has developed over the years as Weisselberg has gone from assisting a young Donald Trump in his father’s business to standing by his side during Trump’s rise to the top.