New grand jury seated for next stage of Donald Trump investigation

Donald Trump
Trump contends the investigation is a 'witch hunt.'

New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business dealings, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The development signals that the Manhattan district attorney’s office was moving toward seeking charges as a result of its two-year investigation, which included a lengthy legal battle to obtain Trump’s tax records.

AP said the person familiar with the matter was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into a variety of matters such as hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf, property valuations and employee compensation.

The Democratic prosecutor has been using an investigative grand jury through the course of his probe to issue subpoenas and obtain documents. That panel kept working while other grand juries and court activities were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The investigation includes scrutiny of Trump’s relationship with his lenders; a land donation he made to qualify for an income tax deduction; and tax write-offs his company claimed on millions of dollars in consulting fees it paid.

The new grand jury could eventually be asked to consider returning indictments. While working on that case, it also will be hearing other matters. The Post reported that the grand jury will meet three days a week for six months.

Trump contends the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

“This is purely political, and an affront to the almost 75 million voters who supported me in the Presidential Election, and it’s being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors,” Trump said in a statement.

Vance’s office declined to comment.

The new grand jury is the latest sign of increasing momentum in the criminal investigation into the Republican ex-president and his company, the Trump Organization.

Attorney General Letitia James said last week that she assigned two lawyers to work with Vance’s office on the probe after her civil investigation into Trump evolved into a criminal matter.

James, a Democrat, said her office also is continuing its civil investigation into Trump. She did not say what prompted her office to expand its investigation into a criminal probe.

In recent months, Vance hired former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to help run the investigation and has been interviewing witnesses, including Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Vance declined to run for reelection and will leave office at the end of the year, meaning the Trump case is likely to pass to his successor in some form. An election next month is all but certain to determine who that will be.

Trump said in a statement last week he has being “unfairly attacked and abused by a corrupt political system.” He contends the investigations are part of a Democratic plot to silence his voters and block him from running for President again.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court buoyed Vance’s investigation by clearing the way for the prosecutor to enforce a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm and obtain eight years of tax returns and related documents for the former President, the Trump Organization and other Trump entities.

The documents are protected by grand jury secrecy rules and are not expected to be made public.

Vance’s investigation has appeared to focus in recent weeks on Trump’s longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg. His former daughter-in-law, Jen Weisselberg, is cooperating with both inquiries.

She has given investigators reams of tax records and other documents as they look into whether some Trump employees were given off-the-books compensation, such as apartments or school tuition.

Allen Weisselberg was subpoenaed in James’ civil investigation and testified twice last year. His lawyer declined to comment when asked Tuesday if he had been subpoenaed to testify before the new grand jury.

A message seeking comment was left with Jen Weisselberg’s lawyer.

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Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


One comment

  • Doug

    May 26, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Only in the beyond hyper-partisan world that Trump stoked the last 5 years would the party of the prosecutors be called out. Prosecutors, R and D, prosecute criminals regardless of their party.

    Some good additional info in this article would be that:
    – his dad was a tax cheat
    – Weisselberg worked for his dad as well
    – Donald Trump’s inheritance was increased substantially because of his dad cheating on taxes
    – Donald Trump has been hit twice already, with significant financial penalties being levied due to financial malpractice with his “charitable” foundation and with Trump University.
    – The information revealed already on his taxes smells really bad and looks to be way beyond “aggressive tax treatment”
    – everyone with common sense knows why he wielded the Justice Department to use every tool in their quiver to protect him from having his taxes and financials turned over to investigators.

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