- The Trump Org. controller testified in 2017 that Trump misused charity funds, The Daily Beast said.
- The controller, Jeff McConney, reportedly testified for the Manhattan DA’s investigation.
- The DA’s office is expected to bring additional charges in the criminal investigation.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A high-ranking Trump Organization official gave testimony in 2017 saying Donald Trump misused funds, according to a transcript of the deposition obtained by The Daily Beast.
Earlier this month, Manhattan prosecutors announced a 15-count indictment against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, alleging they took part in a years-long tax-evasion scheme. Both the company and Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The indictment did not include any charges related to the company’s or Trump’s personal charity work. But McConney’s testimony could inform future charges brought in the investigation.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is working with the New York State Office of the Attorney General, which took McConney’s 2017 deposition as part of a civil lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
McConney is the Trump Organization’s controller and plays the role of Weisselberg’s second-in-command, according to people familiar with the company’s inner workings. In the 2017 deposition reviewed by The Daily Beast, McConney said Trump acted wrongfully in using more than $US250,000 ($AU338,713) in donor funds to settle personal legal problems.
“I probably didn’t know at that time that we probably shouldn’t be using foundation funds for this type of thing… we made a mistake,” McConney told an investigator, according to The Daily Beast.
McConney also addressed Trump’s donation to a political action committee supporting former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who declined to pursue an investigation into the scandal-ridden and now defunct Trump University. The donation was not initially reported to the IRS.
“We found out we made the contribution to… a political organization as opposed to a charitable organization,” McConney said, according to The Daily Beast. He added: “Anything and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, with this one request.”
The Trump Foundation settled the civil lawsuit with the New York attorney general’s office in 2019, paying $US2 ($AU3) million in restitution before dissolving. As part of the settlement, Trump and his children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. have been barred from sitting on the board of New York state charities.
ABC News reported that McConney testified for the Manhattan grand jury in June. The grand jury is expected to last through at least November. Prosecutors are examining whether employees of the Trump Organization took perks without paying the appropriate taxes on them; whether the company misrepresented property values for favorable tax, loan, and insurance rates; and whether it broke state laws by facilitating a hush-money payment to the adult-film actor Stormy Daniels.
The investigation appears to be focused on “flipping” Weisselberg into cooperating with prosecutors. The executive has worked for the Trump Organization for 40 years and has a vast knowledge of the company’s and the Trump family’s finances.