Conservative lays out reasons why Manhattan DA investigation ‘may end badly for Trump’
Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, has pled "not guilty" to charges that include criminal tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records — and the company itself has also been indicted by a grand jury as a result of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.'s comprehensive investigation of its financial activities. Never Trump conservative David Frum analyzes the Weisselberg and Trump Organization indictments in an article published by The Atlantic on July 1, laying out some reasons why he believes Vance's investigation "may end badly" for former President Donald Trump.
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization are not facing a federal prosecution but rather, one by New York State — where the office of Attorney General Letitia James, a blistering critic of Donald Trump, has been working closely with Vance's office. And in a sense, that was the type of prosecution that Trump feared the most — even if he had won the 2020 presidential election. Trump, had he been reelected, could have granted Weisselberg a pardon in a federal prosecution — and the U.S. Department of Justice has a policy against indicting a sitting president. But a president's ability to grant pardons only exists at the federal level.
"So far," Frum writes, "the danger is to Trump's friends and his business, not the former president himself. But the danger could spiral, because Trump knew only so many tricks. If Trump's company was bypassing relatively moderate amounts of tax on the income flows to Trump's friends, what was it doing with the much larger income flows to Trump and his own family? Even without personal testimony, finances leave a trail. There is always a debit and a credit, and a check issued to the IRS or not."
The Trump Organization, following Weisselberg's indictment, issued an official statement describing him as "a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who has worked for the Trump Organization for 48 years" and saying, "This is not justice; this is politics."
Frum writes, "Here is what is missing from that statement: 'I'm 100% confident that every investigation will always end up in the same conclusion, which is that I follow all rules, procedures and most importantly, the law.' That's the language used by former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke when he was facing ethics charges in 2018…. Plug the phrases 'very confident' and 'no wrongdoing' into a search engine, and you will pull up statement after statement by politicians and business leaders under fire."
The Never Trump journalist goes on to observe, "An earlier statement from Trump himself likewise omitted an affirmative defense of his company and its employees and instead, attacked the professional prosecutors as 'radical Left' — not to mention 'rude, nasty, and totally biased.' The key line in Trump's own statement is an anticipation of the possibility that one or another of his friends might flip: 'They' — the prosecutors — continue to be 'in search of a crime; and will do anything to frighten people into making up the stories or lies that they want.'"
Predictably, Trumpworld is using the term "witch hunt" in response to the Weisselberg and Trump Organization indictments — the same term Trumpistas used to describe everything from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation to his two impeachments to the criminal prosecutions of Trump allies Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
Frum writes, "One of Trump's skills as a politician is preparing the battlefield in advance. In the case of his first impeachment, he chose to argue outright innocence — 'it was a perfect call' — and no matter how mountainous the evidence of wrongdoing, that was the line he maintained to the end. This time, though, Trump is not claiming that 'all taxes were paid' or that 'it was a perfect tax return.' He's readying his supporters for bad revelations about his company's taxes and directing them to a fallback line that singling him out as a tax scofflaw is politically unfair. That line of defense may well rally Trump's supporters; it will not do him much good in court."