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Allen Weisselberg’s story of playing dumb probably won’t save him (or Trump) this time around

In July, the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into Donald trump and his company took a big step forward when the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, have been charged with more than a dozen crimes. Accused of setting up a 15-year program to help executives like Weisselberg evade tax by compensating them with “social benefits” like apartments, cars and tuition at private schools that don’t While not on the books (but recorded in an internal spreadsheet!), the charges included conspiracy, robbery and several counts of tax evasion and falsification of records. The Trump Organization and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty and, to date, have suggested they will fight the allegations at trial. Presumably, however, the senior executive, who once described himself as Trump’s “eyes and ears” in the business, has at least spent some time considering changing his advocacy and cooperating against the ex- President.

On the one hand, he faces up to 15 years in prison, and at the current age of 74, that’s quite a long time. On the other hand, prosecutors would have proof that his son, Barry Weisselberg, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, too dodged taxes with help from the Trump Organization, and you’d think Weisselberg the Elder would save his own child sooner than his boss. Oh, and for yet another, very few people believe he is innocent. “If the allegations in the indictment are true, it was a tax evasion of pants on fire”, professor of tax law at the University of Chicago Daniel Hemel spoke out after the indictment was unsealed. “It is very hard to believe that this could have happened without the man above knowing it.”

Of course, people have done much dumber things in the service of Donald Trump than losing their own freedom. (For example, being on the verge of overthrowing democracy in his name). And although this is the first time he has been criminally charged and the stakes have never been higher, Weisselberg has already faced evidence of illegal activity on the part of the Trump Organization and had to decide how to react. And according to a new report from the Daily Beast, the CFO has deployed a similar tactic in every situation: to play the silly:

When Donald Trump’s charity was caught making an illegal political donation years ago, his longtime finance right-hand man Allen Weisselberg signed a letter to law enforcement that he called it a simple mistake. In fact, as the Daily Beast recently revealed, employees were well aware that the money was going to a politician in Florida.

When the Trump Foundation filed its annual tax returns with New York State which incorrectly listed this donation – giving the impression that it was going to a legitimate nonprofit – Weisselberg approved the document, a- he said, without actually examining it. Scribbling his signature with a thin black pen, he claimed he had “reviewed this report” to ensure it was “true, correct and complete”. As Weisselberg would later say, the truth was he hadn’t even read it. “Maybe I just went through it,” he told investigators in an oath interview in October 2017. In fact, Weisselberg claimed he didn’t even realize he was one of the only three members of the board of directors of the multi-million dollar charity for 15 years. “I’m not a director,” he swore. “I’m just a treasurer.

This is the standard operating procedure of the now indicted Trump Organization’s chief financial officer. While his current legal strategy in his tax evasion case has yet to be revealed – with his lawyers content to describe the prosecution as “flawed” – this past behavior shows that his main defense has been essentially gross negligence. A contempt for surveillance. Negligence. Incompetence.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.