NY prosecutors 'aggressively' pursuing Trump tax-fraud probe as Weisselberg returns to court: report

NY prosecutors 'aggressively' pursuing Trump tax-fraud probe as Weisselberg returns to court: report
President Donald J. Trump attends a Korean Business Leaders meeting Sunday morning, June 30, 2019, in Seoul. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

New York prosecutors appear to be "aggressively" pursuing their tax fraud-related investigation of the Trump Organization, which led in criminal charges being filed against the former president's company and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, in July.

The Trump Organization's lawyers and Weisselberg are set to appear in court Monday for the first time since they were arraigned three months ago, on charges that they participated in a 15-year scheme to defraud taxpayers by paying company executives with untaxed benefits.

NPR reported Monday that there are "plenty of signs" that New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are "aggessively working the case, including an unannounced court appearance in August by attorneys for both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization."

"The fact that they are having sealed proceedings is consistent with an ongoing grand jury investigation and suggests the district attorney may be considering further charges or defendants," said Adam Kaufmann, a former investigations division chief at the Manhattan district attorney's office.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the New York investigation has recently focused on Matthew Calamari, Trump's one-time bodyguard who later became the Trump Organization's chief operating officer.

"Mr. Calamari and his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., have lived in Trump Organization apartments, and the elder Mr. Calamari has driven a company car. Earlier this month, the younger Mr. Calamari testified before a grand jury that continues to investigate Mr. Trump's business affairs, according to people familiar with the matter," the newspaper reported, adding that Jeff McConney, a senior finance executive who prepared the elder Calamari's tax returns, also recently testified to the grand jury.

One major question hanging over the investigation is whether Weisselberg will turn on the company and his former boss, reaching a deal with prosecutors to testify against them. Bloomberg News reported Friday that it's unlikely Weisselberg will "flip" because he's not facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

"Allen Weisselberg has made the calculation that he can escape, or if he gets a jail sentence, he can get through it," said New York defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor Adam Frisch, who is not involved in the case.

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