The Trump Organization and longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg will face trial for tax evasion. A judge declined to dismiss the charges and scheduled jury selection for October.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
At the end of a week of growing legal troubles for former President Donald Trump, here’s one more. We learned today that Trump’s family business will go on trial on multiple counts – that is in October in New York. Ilya Marritz of — was in court today for a preliminary hearing in the Manhattan District Attorney’s case against the Trump Organization. Hello Ilia.
ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: Hello, Mary Louise.
KELLY: So it’s almost easy to lose sight of this case after a week when we saw Trump’s house in Mar-a-Lago being searched by the FBI. Trump sat down for a deposition. He took the Fifth, like, a billion times. Just remind us – that’s the Manhattan District Attorney’s case. What is that?
MARRITZ: You’re right. There are dozens of investigations and cases surrounding the 45th president, but this is the only criminal case he is currently facing.
MARRITZ: He’s not charged, but his company, the Trump Organization, is and — as is his longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. Prosecutors say the Trump Organization and Weisselberg conspired to evade federal, state and local taxes for a decade and a half. One way it worked, allegedly, is that the Trump Organization would cover living expenses, cars, private school tuition for Weisselberg and his family, and that was millions of dollars in revenue that didn’t have never been declared. These schemes would have saved the Trump Organization and Weisselberg a lot of money that they would have had to pay in taxes. The Trump Organization and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty.
KELLY: Now, you were in court today. What happened? What have you learned?
MARRITZ: Judge Juan Merchan began the hearing by denying defense motions to dismiss the case. He dropped one charge against the Trump Organization that had to do with the statute of limitations, but they still face many other charges. Then the judge ordered jury selection to begin on October 24. And it seems likely that the trial would start a few days after that. So that means on Election Day, prosecutors could produce a lot of unflattering exhibits and information about the inner workings of the Trump family business. I mention Election Day, of course, because even though Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot, many of the candidates backed by him are. And this trial will likely add to that already heated atmosphere we see where law enforcement and politics converge around the former president.
KELLY: That’s right. Just to underscore what you’re saying, it’s the Trump organization, the Trump company, that will be judged. What about Trump personally? Is it isolated or is there a potential it could be drawn into?
MARRITZ: Well, Donald Trump went to the Supreme Court twice to try to block the investigation that led to these charges. He failed both times. It’s Trump’s family business, founded by his grandmother, bequeathed by his father, so it’s personal. However, at one point last year, it really seemed like this case was perhaps the biggest legal threat to Trump. Local prosecutors here were closely scrutinizing Donald Trump’s own actions. It looked like he might be personally charged with financial crimes. But a new district attorney was sworn in earlier this year. Trump has not been charged and his attorneys believe he is now safe in this case, even though his business is not. Nevertheless, he has to spend a lot of money on lawyers to defend his business.
KELY: Alright. So, going back to this terrible, horrible, not good, very bad week that Trump – or at least his lawyers – are having, what are you waiting for next?
MARRITZ: Of course, we’re all eager to hear more about the FBI’s search warrant for Mar-a-Lago and what it means and what they found there. But I think it’s important to keep an eye on the New York cases. The Trump Organization trial could reveal a lot of information about Trump’s business, from when he was in politics to when he was president. And then there’s another related threat to the company, and that’s New York Attorney General Tish James. His office is the one that deposed Trump this week. She is about to make a decision on whether to file a civil complaint. Now, civil charges seem less meaningful than criminal, but if she charges him with civil charges and wins, she could try for punitive damages or even disband the Trump Organization. His office is the one that shut down the Trump Foundation a few years ago.
KELLY: This is Ilya Marritz from – in New York. Thanks.
MARRITZ: You’re welcome.
(SOUNDBITE OF RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS SONG, “UNDER DECK”)
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