Long-time Trump Organisation CFO Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed, the Wall Street Journal reports. That should come as little surprise; he was invoked twice in Michael Cohen‘s taped conversation with President Donald Trump about buying the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal‘s story.
Bloomberg’s Timothy O’Brien spotlighted the potential significance of Mr Weisselberg’s implication in the whole thing shortly after the Cohen-Trump tape came out on Tuesday evening. Mr Cohen, Mr O’Brien has argued previously, is a small fish in Trumpworld; Mr Weisselberg, by contrast, is deeply involved in Mr Trump’s business and finances:
Mr O’Brien said: “Weisselberg . . . has worked for the Trump family since the 1970s, and knows more about the Trump Organisation’s history and finances than nearly anyone.[…]
“Over the years, Weisselberg’s professional duties also came to include handling Trump’s personal finances as well as the Trump Organisation’s corporate finances. He has paid household bills, made large purchases for Trump, and has communicated with Trump’s outside investment advisers.
After Trump became president his lawyers created a trust that safeguards his interest in the Trump Organisation while ostensibly managing the company without his input. The trust is run by Weisselberg and the president’s two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.”
In other words, Mr Weisselberg has served as something of a jack-of-all-trades for Mr Trump. He worked for the Trump Organisation and the Donald J. Trump Foundation, yes, but he also handled personal stuff – up to and including tax returns . . . and apparently consulting with Mr Cohen on how to handle paying for the rights to a story about an alleged Mr Trump affair with a Playboy Playmate, just two months before the 2016 election.
Mr Weisselberg has now been tied to both the potential Ms McDougal payment […] and to the payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who has also claimed an affair with Mr Trump, in which he set up Mr Cohen’s reimbursements from Mr Trump.
[…T]he idea that Mr Weisselberg might flip on Mr Trump is premature, at best.
But the fact that there was reason to subpoena him is big. That means he has to answer investigators’ questions, save for ones where he might invoke the Fifth Amendment or attorney-client privilege. It also means the probe has clearly expanded into Mr Trump’s business, which constituted Mr Trump’s previously expressed red line.
“The subpoena is significant because it indicates that the probe encompasses the welter of transactions done under the umbrella of the Trump Organisation, with possible criminal liability for the organisation itself,” said former Justice Department official Harry Litman.