Crime & Justice

Trump’s legal problems deepen after convening of special grand jury

By Mario Villar

New York, May 26 (EFE).- Donald Trump’s legal woes have deepened with the convening of a special grand jury by Manhattan prosecutors, an indication they believe they have enough evidence to secure a criminal indictment against the former president or one of his associates.

The new development, reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, is the latest step in a more than two-year investigation of the Trump Organization and its officers by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The probe led by DA Cyrus Vance Jr. is exploring possible tax, bank or insurance fraud or other crimes allegedly committed by the Republican before he won the White House.

The latter may include manipulating the value of his assets and taking unjustified deductions as part of an effort to pay little or no income tax over a multi-year period.

Vance won a key victory in February when he gained access to years of Trump’s tax returns following a lengthy legal battle, with the US Supreme Court eventually rejecting the ex-president’s arguments for keeping those financial records away from prosecutors.

Separately, New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who has been conducting a parallel civil investigation into the Trump Organization, announced last week that her office will be joining Vance’s criminal probe.

The special grand jury has been empaneled for a six-month period and will meet three times a week.

Even so, that move does not necessarily mean that charges will be brought against the former head of state, former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night.

“One thing I would caution all of your viewers though, Anderson, is that this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to indict Donald Trump,” Goldman said.

“Fraud cases are hard. He has what would be perceived as an advice-of-counsel defense to some of the fraud charges. And he doesn’t e-mail. So we know that there isn’t going to be a lot of documentary evidence that demonstrates Donald Trump’s knowledge of any misrepresentations to insurance companies, to banks, to tax authorities.”

He said therefore that a possible indictment of Allen Weisselberg, who has served for decades as chief financial officer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, is a key element in the case.

“If he’s indicted, because he would know all of this stuff, then the question is whether or not he’ll cooperate” with prosecutors, Goldman said.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement after reports of the convening of the grand jury that the investigation by Vance and James, both of whom are Democrats, is pure partisan harassment.

“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it’s never stopped,” he said in reference to the launching of his campaign for the White House in 2015 and to allegations that he colluded with Russia to win the 2016 elections, abused his power while in office and incited this year’s storming of the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

“They wasted two years and $48 million in taxpayer dollars on (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller and Russia Russia Russia, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and it continues to this day, with illegally leaked confidential information,” the statement read. EFE

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