Prosecutors in New York have given former president Donald Trump’s attorneys a deadline of Monday afternoon to make any final arguments as to why the Trump Organization should not face criminal charges over its financial dealings, according to two people familiar with the matter.
That deadline is a strong signal that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats – now working together, after each has spent more than two years investigating Trump’s business – are considering criminal charges against the company as an entity.
Earlier this year, Vance convened a grand jury in Manhattan to consider indictments in the investigation. No entity or individual has been charged in the investigations thus far, and it remains possible that no charges will be filed.
Prosecutors have shown interest in whether Trump’s company used misleading valuations of its properties to deceive lenders and taxing authorities, and in whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits for company executives, according to court documents and people familiar with the investigations.
The two people familiar with the deadline set for Trump’s attorneys spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations. Under New York law, prosecutors may file charges against corporations in addition to individuals.
Last Thursday, lawyers working for Trump personally and for the Trump Organization met virtually with prosecutors to make the case that charges were not warranted. Meetings like these are common in financial investigations, allowing defense attorneys a chance to present evidence before prosecutors make a decision on whether to seek charges.
Thursday’s meeting was first reported by the New York Times.
Spokespeople for Vance and James declined to comment on Sunday, as did an attorney for Trump, Ronald Fischetti, and an attorney for the Trump Organization, Alan Futerfas.
People familiar with the probe confirmed to The Washington Post that prosecutors were looking at charging the Trump Organization as an entity, as well as Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, following Weisselberg’s refusal to assist in the investigation.
Fischetti, who took part in the Thursday meeting, said Friday that prosecutors are going forward with a case against the company because Weisselberg wasn’t “cooperating and saying what they want him to say” with respect to whether Trump had personal knowledge about his CFO’s alleged use of cars, apartments and other compensation that prosecutors think may not have been reported properly to tax authorities, according to people with knowledge of the case.
Trump, who on Saturday night kicked off a planned series of rallies to boost his and favored Republicans’ future election prospects, still owns his businesses through a trust managed by his adult sons and Weisselberg. He gave up day-to-day management of the company while in the White House, but it is unclear what role he plays in the company’s operations now.
Last month, Trump called the investigations a “witch hunt” run by Democrats seeking to damage his future political prospects.
“It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it’s never stopped,” Trump said in a news release, referring to the start of his presidential campaign in 2015.
In recent months, according to people familiar with the investigation, prosecutors began investigating Weisselberg’s personal finances, in the hopes that Weisselberg might be persuaded to offer testimony against his boss. But prosecutors have grown frustrated with what they see as a lack of cooperation from Weisselberg, according to a person familiar with the case. This month, Post reporters observed Weisselberg driving into work at Trump Tower – home to both Trump’s Manhattan apartment and his company’s headquarters office – on a day when Trump was staying at the tower.
An attorney for Weisselberg, Mary Mulligan, declined to comment Sunday.
Trump’s business uses a web of hundreds of individual limited liability corporations, most of which are ultimately controlled by a trust whose beneficiary is Trump himself.