Ex-Mueller prosecutor says charges against Trump Org are likely a 'shot across the bow' with more to come
- Andrew Weissman, the lead prosecutor on the Mueller probe, commented on the Trump Org. charges.
- He said last week's charges are likely a warning to executives at the company to cooperate.
- NY prosecutors last week charged Trump's firm and its CFO with tax avoidance crimes.
The lead prosecutor on Robert Mueller's Russia probe described the charges facing the Trump Organization as a "shot across the bow" ahead of more serious action.
Andrew Weissman described the charges against the company and its CFO Allen Weisselberg a warning to other executives of the potential legal cost of not cooperating.
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office last week charged the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Donald Trump's businesses, and Weisselberg with using valuable fringe benefits to avoid tax.
-Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) July 3, 2021
Observers wondered whether the charges might be the only ones against the company, or whether it could be part of a broader case. In particular, the speculation has focussed on whether Trump himself could be targeted.
Weissman, who formerly served as general counsel for the FBI, weighed in on the debate in a tweet Saturday.
He said the charges were likely about sending a message warning other executives at the company to cooperate.
"With all due respect to those who think the DA charges this week were all there is, I disagree. This was a shot across the bow. More to come. DA message to Trump Org employees cooperate now or face charges and jail," wrote Weissman. "That's how this works."
Other legal analysts have questioned why prosecutors would file relatively low-level tax avoidance charges last week if there were other more serious offences they could pursue.
According to reports, prosecutors from the Manhattan DA and from the New York attorney general's office are conducting a broad probe into business affairs at the Trump Organization, including whether financial statements were falsified for tax or insurance purposes.
Michael Cohen - formerly one of Trump's most trusted aides and now an adamant critic - has claimed that all major financial decisions at the company required Trump's approval.
Trump has claimed the charges are a politically motivated witch hunt, comparing it to the Mueller probe which he had also claimed was a plot to damage him politically.
The Mueller probe wrapped up in 2019, with the investigation providing evidence that Trump had sought to obstruct the probe, but declining to reach a judgement on whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.
Weissman, in a book published last year, was sharply critical of decisions by Mueller not to subpoena Trump or examine his financial records.
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