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- Prosecutors in Manhattan, New York, are weighing possible criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two unnamed senior officials at the company, The New York Times reported on Thursday night.
- According to the report, the Manhattan District Attorney is looking at what role the organization may have had in the arrangement of payments Michael Cohen made to women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with Donald Trump.
- The investigation would seek to determine how the Trump Organization accounted for the reimbursement it paid Cohen, the report said, noting that the company labeled the reimbursement as payment for legal fees.
- Cohen is Trump’s former personal attorney. He pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations and other charges on Tuesday.
- As part of the deal, he testified under oath that he made the payments to bury damaging stories about Trump and preserve his candidacy in the 2016 election.
New York state prosecutors are said to be weighing possible criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two unnamed senior officials at the company, The New York Times reported Thursday night.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is trying to determine what role the organization may have had in the arrangement of a payment Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who said she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump.
According to The Times report, the DA’s investigation would try to determine how the Trump Organization accounted for the reimbursement it paid Cohen, who was Trump’s personal lawyer at the time he facilitated the $130,000 payment to Daniels in 2016.
The identities of the two senior officials reportedly being targeted in the Manhattan DA’s inquiry were not immediately clear. As Business Insider’s senior politics reporter Allan Smith wrote this week, observers pointed to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, as likely to be one of the two.
The Times report notes that the Manhattan DA’s inquiry is still in its early stages, and prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will proceed.
Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations and other charges on Tuesday. As part of the deal, he testified under oath that he made the hush-money payment to keep Daniels quiet about her alleged affair with Trump in order to preserve his candidacy in the 2016 election.
- Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Court documents related to Cohen’s plea deal said the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen $420,000 for the payment to Daniels and labeled it as legal fees. The money covered the $130,000 payment to Daniels plus costs and fees, a bonus for Cohen, and money to cover his tax liability.
The Trump Organization paid Cohen in $35,000 installments through 2017, and submitted false invoices for the payments which it said were part of a monthly retainer.
“In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and the monthly invoices Cohen submitted were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017,” prosecutors in Cohen’s case said.
A New York state case against the Trump Organization could add to the president’s worries because his pardon power does not apply to businesses or individuals convicted of state crimes.
Trump has already issued several pardons in his first 18 months in office. People in his orbit have publicly discussed a possible pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who this week was convicted on multiple counts of tax and bank fraud.