Manhattan prosecutors tried to flip Allen Weisselberg after Michael Cohen said he was a 'weak link,' court documents say
- Manhattan DA unsuccessfully tried to flip Allen Weisselberg before indicting him, court papers say.
- The documents say Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen told prosecutors Weisselberg was a "weak link."
- Weisselberg was indicted last year on 15 felony counts and is now asking a judge to toss the case.
The Manhattan district attorney's tried and failed to flip the Trump Organization's former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, before indicting him on tax fraud conspiracy charges last summer — and it was all based on a tip from Michael Cohen, according to newly unsealed court documents.
Weisselberg's lawyers made the claim in a filing unsealed on Tuesday, in which they asked that the 15 felony charges against him be dismissed on a variety of grounds, including allegations of "selective" and politically motivated prosecution.
Much of the new filing focuses on Cohen's pivotal early role in the DA's three-year probe into whether the Trump Organization broke tax, bank, and insurance laws.
The filing cites grand jury minutes, prosecutor interview notes, and other evidence that investigators have so far turned over to the defense.
From the beginning, Cohen was "the cornerstone" of prosecutors' case against Weisselberg and The Trump Organization, the CFO's filing said.
Prosecutors started the investigation by making three trips to visit Cohen in an upstate New York federal prison in 2019 "for a series of wide-ranging interviews that probed virtually every aspect of The Trump Organization's business and operations," the filing added. Cohen was there serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations.
Cohen's March 2019 testimony before the House Oversight Committee spurred both the DA's and the New York Attorney General's ongoing probes into the Trump Organization. The ex-Trump attorney was the first witness the DA's office interviewed, Weisselberg's filing said, and he was so crucial to the probe that prosecutors referred to the case itself as "Fixer" in internal emails.
By early 2021, "it was Mr. Cohen who suggested that DANY target Mr. Weisselberg as the so-called 'weak link' who might be willing to provide much desired cooperation for DANY's investigation into the Trump Organization," the filing said.
"This is exactly what DANY did, explicitly threatening Mr. Weisselberg and his son with prosecution if he declined to cooperate with [the] investigation."
Former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. personally attended three of those meetings where prosecutors strategized with Cohen over how to flip Weisselberg, the filing continued.
Weisselberg's lawyers claimed Cohen's pursuit of criminal charges against their client was part of a "vendetta" stemming from Weisselberg's 2018 federal grand jury testimony — the same critical testimony that helped put him in prison.
Weisselberg had testified about the "hush money" payments Cohen funnelled to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels and the former Playboy model Karen McDougal shortly before the 2016 US election in exchange for their silence about alleged affairs they'd had with then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Weisselberg's lawyers said he was granted immunity during his grand jury testimony and therefore should not have been charged in the DA's investigation into the Trump Organization.
Insider previously reported that no one from Trump's C-suite has "flipped," or agreed to cooperate against him in hopes of staying out of prison.
But according to the filing, one of Weisselberg's unindicted co-conspirators, Trump Organization Controller Jeffrey McConney, who Weisselberg supervised, testified before the grand jury in exchange for a grant of immunity.
McConney's testimony, however, was less than helpful to prosecutors, the Weisselberg filing suggested.
McConney "testified over and over before the grand jury that, at the time of the alleged events in question, he did not think he was doing anything wrong and that to the extent that certain fringe benefits did not get reported as taxable income, that was an error on his part," the filing said.
The filing went on to ask the presiding judge, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, to set a date for oral arguments on Weisselberg's and the Trump Organization's motions to dismiss.
The case is tentatively set for trial in the summer.Read the original article on Business Insider