What new criminal charges tell us about the legal threats Donald Trump faces
If this is the end of several years of criminal investigations into Donald Trump’s business transactions, it will be an absolutely anti-climax ending.
A batch of allegations just announced will not help prevent Trump from running for president again, if he chooses to do so.
The allegations announced on Thursday also do not explain why there was a ruthless multi-year legal waste that prosecutors saw twice. Climb to the Supreme Court Pry open Trump’s tax return.
The former president’s company is now accused of criminally underreporting the wages of Trump’s long-time right-hand man, allowing him to avoid one-tenth of his tax revenue for 16 years.
The longtime assistant Alan Wesselberg was also charged Thursday for failing to report income from paying tuition for his apartment, two Mercedes and Wesselberg’s children’s private schools.
some of them 15 tax-related charges announced New York City prosecutors may face a severe maximum penalty-up to 15 years in prison.
Nonetheless, this is not the dramatic end of Trump’s legal story-unless of course this is just the beginning.
Clues in the allegation
Some disgruntled former residents in the orbit of the former president warned that this was indeed the case. They said that for Trump, the worst period has yet to come.
His lawyer turned to rival Michael Cohen said that this case will go further than any accounting of Wesselberg’s salary.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Cohen said Help the prosecutor, Said in an interview with CNN on Thursday.
“There is more to come.”
An urgent question is whether the fear of struggling in prison will prompt Wesselberg to become tempted by his decades-long boss. (According to reports, he did not cooperate with investigators.)
But Cohen said that the logical move now is for Wesselberg to discredit Trump, not take risks, and spend the rest of his life in prison at the age of 73.
The prosecutor claimed that there was a credible case against Weisselberg, proving that he and the company deliberately evaded taxes—hidden $1.76 million in extra wages for him in 16 years. This is equivalent to one-tenth of his annual salary of nearly $1 million.
“If he doesn’t do this, he will be crazy [testify against Trump] Because now his life is at stake,” Cohen said.
Thursday’s announcement may also contain clues that the prosecutors have greater plans for the case.
This Fee documents An allusion to an unprosecuted “co-conspirator No. 1” who participated in a suspected tax evasion plan between 2005 and 2021.
No charges have been filed against this unidentified person.
An indictment also mentioned that Trump’s signature appeared on a check for Wesselberg’s tuition.
The document also stated that two other company employees received similar compensation as Weisselberg, but did not disclose their names.
The prosecutor also requested that some details of their case be kept confidential, which shows that they are still investigating other crimes.
There is plenty of time for more charges, because it is reported that the grand jury set up for the case is only one month away from the six-month appointment.
Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law said that she had also been helping the prosecutor; she was fighting a fierce divorce and custody battle with his son.
Jennifer Wesselberg said she believes investigators are reviewing funds drawn from donations for Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration.
She predicts that the investigation will eventually target people in the Trump White House.
“There will be a lot of criminal liability,” she told MSNBC. “After Donald has become president, something happened.”
Tax law experts disagree
A tax law expert has different expectations: According to the public’s knowledge, she believes that Trump will not encounter too many legal problems.
Even if he was charged for tax violations, she said she did not think Trump would eventually be convicted and sent to prison.
“My guess is that the former president will be unscathed,” Vanderbilt University professor Beverly Moran said in an interview.
“When you have money to fight, there are many opportunities to protect the accused. If I have to bet, I bet the president will not go to jail.”
There is one way Trump can cause more trouble for himself: speak. Although former FBI Director Robert Mueller refused to seek accusations of obstruction of justice during Trump’s current presidency, this does not mean that he will never be affected by such accusations.
Trump has already begun attacking prosecutors in the court of public opinion.
In a statement issued by his office, the former president called the case a political persecution, especially not only against him, but also against his millions of supporters.
In such a statement, Trump described the case as an attempt by the radical left to marginalize more than 75 million “voters and patriots.”
This is similar to the language he used before the attack on the Capitol.
What is obstruction of justice
After the defeat of the Trump campaign, he repeatedly claimed that the process was manipulated and stated that his supporters would not support it, eventually inviting them to participate in the notorious rally in Washington on January 6. Five people died.
When asked how to facilitate the allegations of obstruction of justice, Moran said that the threshold is relatively high and it is necessary to clearly try to intimidate the people involved.
She said that if Trump speaks in general terms, such as predicting that his supporters will not accept the accusations against him, he may avoid the consequences.
But she said that given what has happened after the election, if Trump tries to incite the crowd, the court may punish him.
“If he says,’Everyone should go to court. Or go to the prosecutor’s office and let them know how you feel,’after January 6, this will become more threatening than before January 6,” Moran said.