As part of an ongoing two year investigation into some of the former president’s more questionable business dealings, a special grand jury has now been convened by prosecutors in New York. According to early reports, the group will meet three days a week for six months. This new development makes the likelihood of prosecutors looking to return indictments and possibly bring charges against the 45th president of the United States, more and more of a potential reality.
Leading the ongoing investigation is Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, who had already handed down 16 indictments against the former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign Paul Manafort in March 2019, and had set his sights on Trump after news of the Stormy Daniels payoff came to light. All subsequent investigations into Trump stem from there.
Vance Jr’s efforts to examine Trump’s dealings were given a boost when, despite Trump trying everything to block it, he subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm Mazars for eight years’ worth of Trump’s personal and business tax returns and related documents in August 2019 and would eventually, after spending 18 months fighting Trump objections in court, receive the relevant documents in February 2021.
The sordid Stormy Daniels affair would turn into a catalyst that would see Vance Jr widen the scope of his initial investigation to encompass dubious property valuations and employee compensation. The issues being looked at include Mr. Trump’s relationship with his lenders, a land donation made to qualify for an income tax deduction, and tax write-offs claimed by the Trump Organization, culminating in Mr. Trump’s finance chief Allen Weisselberg being investigated as well.
The investigation into Mr. Weisselberg would appear to be bearing fruit as his former daughter-in-law Jen Weisselberg, who was married to his son Barry, is cooperating with investigators and has already provided them with documents that suggest some Trump employees might have been given unofficial benefits such as housing or school tuition. It should also be noted that when Ivanka Trump was asked about Mr. Weisselberg’s role in the Trump Organization as part of a December 2019 investigation into inaugural spending, her response was almost ‘Allen who?’
Read more about Ivanka’s ludicrous response here
As part of the investigation is looking into whether different values for the same properties were reported to lenders, insurance companies, and government taxing authorities, having Mr. Weisselberg flip on a man he has worked with since the 1970s could be a real feather in the cap of the investigators. Another feather was already there as we discovered in early May that a parallel investigation, led by New York State attorney general Letitia James, had been conducting a criminal investigation into Weisselberg’s personal taxes for months and she was also launching a criminal probe into the Trump Organization.
Trump’s response to the numerous investigations and the revelation that a special grand jury had been convened was as Trumpian as you would expect, slapping his often repeated label of ‘witch hunt’ on it. He claimed he is being “unfairly attacked and abused by a corrupt political system,” which is laughable considering part of the investigation is all about him using his own political position for personal financial gains. In a last-gasp attempt to portray himself as the ultimate victim, he claimed that he is the victim of a plot to stop him from seeking the presidency again.
Unfortunately for the public, any documents seized in the investigation are likely to fall under the protection of grand jury secrecy rules so will be removed from prying eyes. Many commentators are rather skeptical about any criminal charges coming from this grand jury based on the fact that every time prosecutors have tried to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his questionable business practices, nothing ever really came of it. The difference now is that the prosecutors would not be asking for a grand jury to be convened if there weren’t more than enough smoke to go with a fire that might eventually burn the Trump Organization, and all those associated with it, to the ground.