Nicole Sganga, Melissa Quinn, Stefan Becket, Pat Milton – CBS News
The Trump Organization has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan for alleged tax-related crimes, sources familiar with the matter told CBS News, the first criminal charges stemming from investigators’ years-long probe into former President Donald Trump’s namesake company.
The longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, was seen surrendering to authorities in Manhattan early Thursday morning ahead of expected charges. The charges remained under seal as of Thursday morning. Attorneys for the Trump Organization are expected to appear in court for arraignment on the charges.
The Washington Post first reported that an indictment had been filed against the Trump Organization.
Ronald Fischetti, a lawyer representing Mr. Trump, told CBS News on Tuesday that he does not foresee charges against the former president himself. During a virtual meeting with prosecutors last week, Fischetti said he asked Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. for details on the charges that were under consideration.
“I asked specifically, ‘Are any of these charges related to Donald Trump?’ And the answer was no,” Fischetti told CBS News on Tuesday.
The Trump Organization’s legal team anticipated the company will be accused of tax crimes relating to alleged failure to pay taxes on corporate benefits and perks, including cars and apartment buildings provided to employees.
“They didn’t use the word ‘fringe benefits’ or anything like that, but they alleged improper benefits that were conferred on some of the high-ranking individuals in the Trump Organization,” Fischetti said.
During last week’s meeting, prosecutors left attorneys for Mr. Trump and his company with the distinct impression that they had planned to proceed with charges in the coming days. The decision to bring charges against the company itself could give prosecutors leverage to demand changes on the corporate level or levy fines as part of a negotiated settlement.
According to sources familiar with conversations between the legal teams, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office gave defense lawyers until this past Monday to dissuade prosecutors from bringing charges against the company, which oversees the former president’s real estate and business holdings.
Attorneys for the Trump Organization plan to immediately move to dismiss the case in court if charges are brought by the grand jury, according to those familiar with the defense team’s legal strategy. The legal team believes the threat to the Trump Organization posed by prosecution is disproportionate to the alleged misconduct, and feel prosecutors would be unable to prove that the company’s leadership — including the former president — had any specific knowledge of improper benefits granted to employees.
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