New York state has opened a criminal investigation into former US president Donald Trump (pictured November 2020)
A Democratic prosecutor nearing the end of his term, a loyal lieutenant of the Trump family and a lawyer determined to sink his former boss: AFP details some of the players in New York’s criminal probe into Donald Trump.
The 66-year-old Democrat has been Manhattan District Attorney since 2010. He was the first to launch a criminal investigation into the Republican ex-president.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (pictured May 2020) has doggedly pursued Donald Trump, winning a years-long battle to obtain his tax records and deploying significant human and financial resources to the politically sensitive investigation
Vance, whose father was US Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter, has sometimes been accused of a reluctance to prosecute the rich and powerful.
He delayed filing charges against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein before securing a landmark conviction last year.
Vance has doggedly pursued Trump, though, first by winning a years-long battle to obtain his tax records and secondly by deploying significant human and financial resources to the politically sensitive investigation.
He has announced that he will not run for a fourth term when his current one expires in December, and many observers expect him to go out with a bang by filing what would be the first indictment against a former US president.
The Democrat became the first Black woman to become New York state attorney general in 2018.
Since then, the 62-year-old has forged a reputation as a combative and independent prosecutor, filing countless civil actions against large companies, particularly tech giants, and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In addition to Donald Trump, Letitia James (pictured August 2020) is also investigating New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, over sexual harassment allegations and his response to the coronavirus pandemic
When Trump was in the White House, James launched dozens of civil actions against his government.
She is also investigating New York’s powerful Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, over sexual harassment allegations and his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
James has been cited as a possible successor to Cuomo, particularly if her investigation forces him to resign.
Allen Weisselberg: Trump Organization CFO
The 73-year-old is the Trump Organization’s long-serving chief financial officer and one of the family’s most loyal servants.
He began as an accountant for Trump’s father’s company before joining the Trump Organization as financial controller in the 1980s when Donald established himself as a Manhattan real estate mogul.
Allen Weisselberg, pictured standing behind former president Donald Trump and his son Donald Jr. in January 2017, has served as the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization since the 1980s
Weisselberg has been around for all of Trump’s entrepreneurial adventures, including when his Atlantic City casinos went bust.
According to Barbara Res, a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization, Weisselberg ‘thought Trump was a god,’ she told the Daily News.
Investigators believe Weisselberg knows all of the Trump family secrets and have been putting pressure on him for months to cooperate with their investigation.
Observers are closely watching whether Weisselberg will turn against his former boss.
Jennifer Weisselberg: Ex-daughter in law of Allen Weisselberg
Earlier this year, investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office were seen carrying boxes of documents and laptops from Weisselberg’s Manhattan apartment.
She was married to Allen Weisselberg’s son Barry from 2004 to 2018.
In an interview with DailyMail.com in June, she said the former president was a ‘sweet’ and ‘generous’ man who helped pay for her children’s private schooling out of kindness and goodwill, rather than to dodge taxes.
If there was any unlawful activity within the Trump Organization it would be thanks to her former in-laws who still work for the company, she added.
Up until 2018, the mother-of-two was married to Barry Weisselberg, who manages Trump’s Central Park ice rinks, and her father-in-law was Allen Weisselberg, who became the chief financial officer when Trump became president.
‘Allen orchestrated the finances, and Donald is just sort of naïve,’ Jennifer said.
‘It’s provable that his trusted CFO is putting [Trump] and his children in a bad legal position.’
She is also set to testify to the grand jury.
Earlier this year, investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office were seen carrying boxes of documents and laptops from Weisselberg’s Manhattan apartment. She was married ton Allen Weisselberg’s son Barry (right) from 2004 to 2018
Jeff McConney: Trump Organization Senior Vice President
McConney was known as the man in the Trump Organization who would hand over key documents to Trump and CFO Allen Weisselberg before meetings and would be responsible for cutting checks for big payments.
He was the first high-profile member of Trump’s business empire known to have testified in front of the New York Grand Jury deciding whether to indict Trump.
Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen told The Daily Beast: ‘Think of The Trump Organization as a small, one-teller bank.
‘Donald [Trump] would be the president. Allen [Weisselberg] would be the branch manager. Jeff [McConney] would be the teller. Every single transaction was booked through McConney.
Concerns for prosecutors is that McConney is seen as a Trump loyalist and, as The Daily Beast reported, someone who hates left-wing politics.
Trump’s ex-personal lawyer was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws relating to Trump’s 2016 vote win.
Cohen was one of Trump’s closest henchmen for a decade, once proudly boasting that he was prepared to ‘take a bullet’ for the real estate mogul-turned-president.
Michael Cohen, pictured March 2021, openly rejoices in former boss Donald Trump’s legal troubles on Twitter and through his podcast
He turned against his former boss, though, deciding to collaborate with federal investigators in Manhattan.
During a Congressional hearing in February 2019, Cohen alleged — among other things — that Trump regularly undervalued or overvalued his assets, both with banks and insurance companies.
Cohen openly rejoices in Trump’s legal troubles on Twitter and through his podcast ‘Mea Culpa.’