The Trump Organization’s longtime former chief financial officer, is no longer being represented by his Trump Organization-funded attorneys.
Allen Weisselberg, who is currently serving out a 5-month sentence at Rikers Island after pleading guilty to 15 counts of tax evasion to protect his former boss, is no longer served by attorneys Nick Gravante and Mary Mulligan.
There is a lot of speculation, but no clarity about what this means.
Some legal experts say that it’s possible Weisselberg has flipped on Trump, but there could be several explanations.
Karen Agnifilo, former chief assistant district attorney of the Manhattan D.A.’s office, had a couple of suggestions she discussed at MSNBC.
But the Daily Beast has some reporting “with three sources familiar with the situation” that Weisselberg hasn’t flipped at all, but that the Trump Org (Eric Trump) was nervous that those lawyers weren’t Trumpy enough.
According to the Daily Beast, Nick Gravante, one of the lawyers let go who was essential to Weisselberg securing a plea deal, “was so protective of Weisselberg that he was willing to have sit-downs with prosecutors to ensure the executive wouldn’t be in further legal jeopardy—even if that made the Trump Organization uncomfortable.”
But Susan Necheles, an attorney that represented the Trump Org. at trial, disagreed.
“Nick made sure that Weisselberg cooperated with both the defense and the prosecution and Weisselberg’s testimony at trial was extremely helpful to the defense and hurt the prosecution,” Necheles said. “Mr. Weisselberg’s decision to change lawyers was entirely his own, a decision which I understand Mr. Weisselberg made in consultation with his family after the conclusion of the trial.”
Five people who spoke to The Daily Beast did confirm that Weisselberg is now being represented by defense lawyer Seth L. Rosenberg, who previously spent time running the rackets bureau at the very same DA’s office that is now investigating the case.
In Michael Cohen’s book, he describes how he and Weisselberg discussed the payoff in Trump Tower just weeks before the election. Cohen recalls how Weisselberg initially suggested faking business records by running an invoice through the Trump National Golf Club outside Los Angeles or selling a Mar-a-Lago membership.
“We definitely don’t want any paper trail leading back to the Boss… if the Boss pays it and signs the check, it’s like disclosing it to the world…. it needs to come from a third-party to ensure secrecy,” Weisselberg is quoted as saying.
* However, Weisselberg got immunity from the feds for discussing his role, so local prosecutors can’t threaten him with criminal charges for the Stormy Daniels affair.
But then there’s this: Letitia James found that Weisselberg lied to an underwriter from an insurance company by submitting an independent property appraisal that was actually done by the Trump Organization itself.
There may be pressure for Weisselberg to flip on Trump, and agree to talk with Alvin Bragg about the 2016 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels anyway, even with the immunity he earned in the plea deal. Weisselberg reportedly has knowledge of the payment.
But even if Weisselberg isn’t looking to cooperate with an extended Manhattan investigation from the comforts of Rikers, he could face additional charges.