The investigations into Donald Trump have taken a turn that is reminiscent of the famous gangster movie The Untouchables, in which Al Capone is taken down by the feds after they rather dramatically grant immunity to Capone’s bookkeeper. Well, this time the bookkeeper in the eye of the storm is none other than the longtime CFO for the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg.
Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into President Donald Trump‘s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, NBC News reported Friday, citing multiple people with knowledge of the matter.
On Tuesday, without using Weisselberg’s name, federal prosecutors accused him in a document of instructing an unidentified Trump Organization employee to reimburse Cohen for hush-money payments to one of two women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump.
The immunity grant to Weisselberg, who is referred to as “Executive 1” in the Manhattan federal court documents, adds to the legal woes of the president.
This is likely a big part of why Michael Cohen decided to plead guilty on Tuesday. In order for Allen Weisselberg to have been granted immunity, he would have needed to proffer incriminating evidence to prosecutors, likely irrefutable proof that Michael Cohen, and likely Donald Trump, committed the crimes that Cohen pleaded guilty to.
Of course, the proffer of evidence by Allen Weisselberg wasn’t just bad news for Michael Cohen, it was, and is, and will be bad news for Donald Trump. The prosecutors who obtained whatever evidence that Allen Weisselberg proffered also allowed Michael Cohen to state in a court of law that Michael Cohen had committed the crimes while he had been acting upon instructions given to him by Donald Trump. This likely means that the prosecutors were given evidence that showed that Donald Trump had been instructing Michael Cohen, and just as likely that this evidence had been proffered by Allen Weisselberg.
Now, it has been standard Trump operating procedure in these types of matters for Donald to come out swinging against the person who has offered up evidence against him. But, it appears unlikely he could figure out a way to do that in this case, leaving Trump with quite the quandary. One of Trump’s favorite tactics is to try to undermine the accuser’s legitimacy by laiming that their involvement in the inner workings of Trump were extremely limited. However, it is pretty difficult to imagine a way Trump could take that tactic against Allen Weisselberg, as can be seen below.
From Wikipedia: Allen Weisselberg
Following college, Weisselberg worked as an accountant for real estate magnate Fred Trump in the 1970s. By the late 1980s, he was controller of the organization and worked under CFO Stephen Bollenbach. In 2000, Weisselberg was named chief financial officer and Vice President of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. He also served as treasurer of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and has handled the household expenses of the Trump family.
This is no bit player. Weisselberg’s link to Trump goes back 40 years, and as CFO for the last 18 years, he knows all of the inner workings of Trump’s finances.
So, what happens next? Well, if Weisselberg has made the fateful decision to proffer evidence to investigators regarding the Cohen hush money payments, it is by no means a stretch that he might offer other kinds of evidence, too. Donald Trump has been acting and speaking more and more like a mafia boss every day, and turning over any kind of evidence is certainly a big no-no for remaining in the good graces of a mafia boss. Weisselberg’s decision to turn over evidence was surely akin to crossing the Rubicon. He is probably figuratively dead to Trump now, and he likely knew full well that would be the case. And that means he could end up providing more evidence to investigators, evidence that could be helpful to the Russia investigation, possible Russian money laundering, the Trump Foundation investigation, possible Cohen bribery payments from corporations, and a host of other things that might not even be known about yet.
Trump has to know that this development could mean his days are numbered. The question will be how he wants to handle it. Will he start the process of negotiating a resignation for the promise of a Nixon-like pardon? Or will his narcissism prevent that option, leading him to wage an ugly battle to the bitter end?