Prosecutors Whip Out Surprise Document in Trump Org Trial

Paperwork signed by Trump shows he 'explicitly' sanctioned firm's tax fraud scheme, they argue
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2022 8:30 AM CST
Prosecutors: Trump Wasn't 'Blissfully Ignorant' of Fraud Scheme
Former President Donald Trump announces he's running for president for the third time at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 15.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

On Monday, jurors are set to begin deliberating in the Trump Organization's criminal trial, and they now have a new piece of evidence to mull over the weekend regarding Donald Trump himself. On Friday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, prosecutors in the trial, which revolves around accusations that the former president's family business ran afoul of tax laws, made an "explosive claim" in their closing arguments, per the New York Times: that Trump personally signed off on a key portion of the tax fraud scheme put in place by multiple top execs at the company, including former CFO Allen Weisselberg, who has already pleaded guilty to helping himself and other executives at the company avoid taxes via off-the-books bonuses and other perks. At Friday's hearing, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass produced a document signed by Trump in which one exec asked for a salary cut.

Steinglass says that exec instead received off-the-books perks for around the same amount as the salary reduction. "Mr. Trump is explicitly sanctioning tax fraud," Steinglass told the court. "This whole narrative that Donald Trump was blissfully ignorant was just not real," he added, per the Washington Post. These remarks came one day after Steinglass had told jurors that Trump "knew exactly what was going on," per the AP. The Trump Org's legal team objected to Steinglass' Friday comments, and Justice Juan Merchan sustained that objection. "Still, jurors heard what Mr. Steinglass said," the Times notes. That fact didn't escape one of the defense lawyers, Michael van der Veen, who asked Merchan to declare a mistrial. "It's a bias that he put on the jury that can't be undone, and it's not insignificant that he did it," van der Veen argued.

Merchan disagreed and refused the mistrial request. Still, even Steinglass himself acknowledged in his closing statements that he wasn't going to harp too much on Trump's knowledge or involvement in the scheme, because "ultimately it doesn't matter." Trump isn't on trial himself—what the prosecution is trying to prove is that Weisselberg's actions weren't solely in his own best interest, but also to benefit the Trump Organization overall. In other words, Steinglass told jurors, Weisselberg and other executives didn't go "rogue," as Trump's team has claimed, but did what they did with the knowledge and OK of Trump himself. Prosectors say that the Trump Org could have benefited by lowering payroll costs and saving on its Medicare taxes. Steinglass estimated in court that if Weisselberg's compensation had been properly reported, it would've cost the company $3.5 million. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.