Why the Trump Organization Suddenly Fired the Lawyer for Their Imprisoned Moneyman Allen Weisselberg

The Trump Organization has suddenly changed the attorney representing its jailed former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, after some people in Trumpworld expressed concerns that he was too willing to play with the Manhattan district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump, so three well-known sources the situation.

For months, the Trump Organization paid New York attorney Nicholas Gravante to represent Weisselberg. But according to two people familiar with the situation, who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, Gravante wasn’t “Trumpy” enough to stay on board.

Gravante, one of the city’s top criminal defense attorneys, aggressively lobbied Weisselberg last year and played a key role in securing a plea deal that helped the Trump Organization’s executive avoid a lengthy sentence in state prison — by testifying in the tax fraud trial against Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation.

Weisselberg’s lukewarm testimony wasn’t exactly kind to Manhattan prosecutors, but it was enough to convince the jury to convict the companies, which were fined $1.6 million.

According to a source familiar with the dispute, Trump aides were embittered by Gravante’s decision to have Weisselberg meet with Manhattan prosecutors to prepare his testimony for that trial, a move they felt was too friendly with law enforcement. This source added that the Trump Organization’s attorneys were troubled by this agreement and convinced Eric Trump – the Trump son, who is now the Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization – to release Weisselberg’s attorney. The other two sources who confirmed Gravante’s departure from the case also said he is not considered a Trump ally.

In essence, Gravante was so protective of Weisselberg that he was willing to sit down with prosecutors to make sure the executive branch didn’t face further legal jeopardy — even if it made the Trump organization uncomfortable.

Susan Necheles, a defense attorney who represented the Trump Organization at the trial, contradicted this version of events as “completely false.”

“Nick ensured that Weisselberg cooperated with both the defense and the prosecution, and Weisselberg’s testimony in court was extremely helpful to the defense and detrimental to the prosecution,” Necheles said. “Mr. Weisselberg’s decision to change counsel was entirely his own, a decision which I understand Mr. Weisselberg made in consultation with his family after the trial concluded.”

Five people who spoke to The Daily Beast confirmed that Weisselberg is now being represented by defense attorney Seth L. Rosenberg, who previously spent time running the racket office in the same DA’s office now investigating the case.

Rosenberg did not respond to a request for comment.

But even though the corporate tax fraud case is over, Weisselberg is still in hot water over the way he handled Trump Organization property valuations. And that makes him a prime target for local New York County prosecutors, who would benefit from having a key witness testify about these details while they pursue another criminal case involving Trump.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has a grand jury underway that could soon vote on indicting the former US president on falsifying business records and evading campaign finance laws. For years, local prosecutors have tried to find a way to criminally indict Trump himself for agreeing to pay porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election to keep her secret about their sexual affair — salacious details that that might have fueled his presidential campaign.

Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen provided the money and was repaid by the Trump Organization over the course of a year, hiding the deal from an outside attorney as a corporate expense.

The Manhattan Attorney’s Office is trying to fill the void at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Federal prosecutors only pursued criminal charges against Cohen in 2018, relying in part on grand jury testimony from Weisselberg, who, as the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, then approved the repayments.

Cohen’s memoirs, Disloyal, describes how he and Weisselberg discussed the payout in Trump Tower a few weeks before the election. Cohen recalls how Weisselberg first suggested falsifying business records by issuing an invoice through Trump National Golf Club outside of Los Angeles or selling a Mar-a-Lago membership.

“We definitely don’t want a paper trail leading back to the boss…when the boss pays and signs the check, it’s like exposing it to the world…. it has to come from a third party to ensure secrecy,” Weisselberg is quoted as saying.

However, Weisselberg received immunity from the Fed for discussing his role, preventing local prosecutors from threatening him with charges in the Stormy Daniels affair.

But Bragg’s prosecutors are still trying to get him to talk.

According to two people familiar with the situation and a law enforcement source, prosecutors have been discussing for the past few weeks putting additional pressure on Weisselberg, who is currently behind bars in New York’s feared prison on Rikers Island until at least April.

According to two of these sources, investigators are considering the possibility of filing a second criminal case against Weisselberg, this time charging him with insurance fraud. As New York City prosecutors pointed out in a parallel investigation that led to a civil lawsuit last year, the Trump Organization received authorization from Zurich Insurance Group to obtain sureties — the kind that guarantees work on a business project will go ahead. State investigators, however, allege that Weisselberg lied to a Zurich-based insurer by handing over financial reports that allegedly showed property appraisals were carried out by an outside firm – when this was not the case.

“Weisselberg’s representations to Zurich’s underwriter … were false,” the lawsuit states. “The Trump Organization did not hire a professional valuation firm to create any of the valuations used for the statements; Instead, the reviews were prepared by Trump Organization employees, contrary to what the Zurich underwriter was expressly told and believed.”

New York AG investigators Letitia James argue that if Zurich had known the truth, it would have given the Trump Organization a deal on less favorable terms — or questioned its relationship with the company altogether.

Investigators at the Manhattan DA’s office are now dangling that over Weisselberg’s head, adding additional stress to his final weeks at Rikers, according to two sources.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-the-trump-org-suddenly-fired-its-jailed-money-man-allen-weisselbergs-lawyer Why the Trump Organization Suddenly Fired the Lawyer for Their Imprisoned Moneyman Allen Weisselberg

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