In this Jan. 11, 2017, file photo, Allen Weisselberg, center, stands between President-elect Donald Trump, left, and Donald Trump Jr., at a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Former President Trump’s family business just got criminally indicted.
A grand jury in Manhattan indicted the Trump Organization and Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, The New York Times and other outlets reported late Wednesday. The exact nature of the charges wasn’t immediately clear, although prosecutors have reportedly been investigating questions surrounding the handling of benefits awarded to employees.
Trump reportedly wasn’t personally named in the indictment, which is due to be unsealed on Thursday afternoon. But the charges could be just a first round, with more to come.
Weisselberg and a representative of the Trump Organization are due to appear in court on Thursday, the Times reported.
Manhattan prosecutors fought all the way to the Supreme Court for Trump’s tax returns and other records in a wide-ranging investigation of Trump’s financial world. Even after these charges, there’s no telling what secrets they’ve unearthed or where their probe will end.
Charges against Weisselberg may be part of a longer-term plan to go after Trump, in an attempt to get the CFO to flip, cooperate with investigators and provide testimony against his boss. But if so, their plan doesn’t appear to be working yet. Weisselberg, who’s served Trump for decades, has shown no sign of cracking under the pressure.
Weisselberg first signed on to work for Trump’s father, Fred Trump, in the 1970s before rising through the ranks over decades of service from an accountant to become CFO of the firm. He even made an appearance on Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice.”
Weisselberg’s daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, has been cooperating with prosecutors for weeks, and told CNN on Monday that she’s prepared to testify before the grand jury convened by Manhattan DA Cy Vance.
Criminal charges against a company may result in fines or the potential dissolution of the firm. But they don’t necessarily mean that indictments will also be handed down against individual corporate officers.
The Trump team attempted to downplay the anticipated charges days ago by painting them as a disappointment for Trump’s critics, who have long anticipated that the former president’s wild assortment of legal problems would eventually get him criminally indicted.
“This is politically terrible for the Democrats,” tweeted longtime former Trump advisor Jason Miller earlier this week. “They told their crazies and their supplicants in the mainstream media this was about President Trump. Instead, their Witch Hunt is persecuting an innocent 80 year-old man for maybe taking free parking!” (Weisselberg is actually 73.)
On Monday, Trump released an emailed statement blasting New York prosecutors as “rude, nasty, and totally biased.” He also described his company’s actions as “standard practice throughout the U.S. business community, and in no way a crime.”
One of Trump Organization’s lawyers, however, sounded a more cautious note about whether Trump himself might eventually be charged as part of Vance’s investigation.
“There is no indictment coming down this week against the former president,” the lawyer, Ron Fischetti, told The Associated Press on Monday. “I can’t say he’s out of the woods yet completely.”