- The House Intelligence Committee is planning to call Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation, to testify before the panel, INSIDER has learned.
- Weisselberg is a key figure in the Manhattan US attorney’s office’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s business dealings during the 2016 campaign.
- He was granted immunity to testify to a grand jury last year but is not a cooperating witness. It’s unclear if he will agree to appear before the House Intelligence Committee.
- Weisselberg has been associated with the Trump family since the 1970s, and Justice Department veterans say he is best positioned, as the Trump Organisation’s chief bookkeeper, to help investigators shed light on whether Trump or his family members committed financial crimes.
- “He knows this organisation from the beginning,” one former federal prosecutor said. “That’s a star cooperating witness to have. He has the inside perspective, more than Cohen, more than anyone else. If you’re Trump, that’s the guy you don’t want to cooperate.”
The House Intelligence Committee plans to call Allen Weisselberg, the chief bookkeeper at the Trump Organisation, to testify before the panel, two aides told INSIDER.
The news, which was first reported by The Daily Beast, could foreshadow more legal headaches for President Donald Trump, who is already weathering multiple federal and state investigations into his business, charitable organisation, administration, 2016 campaign, and inaugural committee.
Weisselberg is a key figure in the Southern District of New York’s (SDNY) investigation into Trump’s financial dealings during the 2016 election.
Last year, Trump’s former longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to several counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations related to a $US130,000 hush-money payment to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an affair she said she had with Trump. The president denies the affair.
On Wednesday, Cohen testified to the House Oversight Committee that he, Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. committed a “garden variety financial fraud” in order to cover up the payment.
In their charging document against Cohen, New York federal prosecutors said he sent monthly false invoices to Weisselberg, who forwarded them to Trump Jr.
In reality, prosecutors said, the invoices were meant to disguise the reason Cohen was being paid $US35,000 in monthly installments – he was being reimbursed for facilitating the $US130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels. The reimbursement checks, which continued even after Trump took office, were at times signed by Weisselberg and Trump Jr., as well as by Trump himself.
Weisselberg was granted immunity last year to testify before a grand jury in the SDNY’s investigation into Trump and Cohen. He is not cooperating with prosecutors, and it’s unclear whether he will accept the House Intelligence Committee’s request to testify.
Patrick Cotter, a former longtime federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino crime-family boss, John Gotti, underscored how useful Weisselberg could be to investigators scouring Trump’s personal and business dealings.
“The financial guy, the guy Trump has to turn to every time he wants to spend more than 50 bucks, that’s the guy who’s best placed for an investigator to turn to,” Cotter, who has extensive experience prosecuting organised crime, told INSIDER.
“If there’s a suspicion that Trump mishandled his taxes or misrepresented his income for tax or loan purposes – anything related to his finances – Weisselberg is the guy who will know,” Cotter added.
“As a prosecutor, if you had to choose who out of all the potential witnesses in an organisation you want to talk to, the first person you turn to is the financial guy, the one who keeps the books.”
Weisselberg has a long history with the Trumps. He worked as an accountant for Trump’s father, Fred Trump, beginning in the 1970s. By the late 1980s, he was working directly under Stephen Bollenbach, who was the chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation at the time.
In 2000, Weisselberg became the CFO of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts. He also served as treasurer of the Trump Foundation, and he managed the Trump family’s household expenses at times, as well.
“Weisselberg was there at the genesis,” Cotter said. “He knows this organisation from the beginning. That’s a star cooperating witness to have. He has the inside perspective, more than Cohen, more than anyone else. If you’re Trump, that’s the guy you don’t want to cooperate.”
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