Manhattan prosecutors have convened the grand jury that will weigh criminal charges against Donald Trump, according to reports on Tuesday.
The grand jury will also consider whether other Trump Organization executives or the business itself will be prosecuted, The Washington Post reported.
Investigators are looking into whether his business manipulated the value of his real estate portfolio to defraud banks and insurance companies and if any tax benefits were obtained through the evaluations.
The president has denied any wrongdoing and believes all the investigations into him are just further examples of Democratic witch hunts.
Manhattan prosecutors have convened the grand jury that will weigh criminal charges against Donald Trump, according to reports Monday
The Post reported that the panel will sit for three days a week for roughly six months.
The members on the panel will hear a number of cases, which is traditional with New York State grand juries. They aren’t convened on a case-by-case basis.
The convening of the grand jury is the latest development in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s case against the former president which has picked up steam in the last two weeks.
It also indicates Vance may have evidence of criminality against Trump, according to Rebecca Roiphe – a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan who is now a professor at New York Law School.
She said that seating a long-term grand jury indicated that that ‘prosecutors are convinced they have a case.’
Vance’s team may present the entirety of their case at once or in between the panel reviewing other cases. It is unclear if the grand jury will be asked to consider returning any indictments, the outlet reported.
Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor and columnist for Politico, said that if charges come they are still ‘months away’ but the grand jury will allow prosecutors the authority to issue subpoenas for documents and testimony.
‘The mere fact that a special grand jury was empaneled does not mean that any particular person will be charged. It does not necessarily mean that Trump himself will be charged,’ Mariotti tweeted.
‘But it is fair to say that Vance’s investigation is far along and that charges are on the horizon.’
Vance is leaving office at the end of the year meaning there’s a good chance he’ll pass the two-year probe to his successor.
Trump is facing two investigations into his business practices in New York.
Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James announced last Tuesday that her civil investigation into Trump’s business conduct has turned criminal as she claims he manipulated the value of his assets to mislead tax authorities and lenders.
She did not say what prompted her office to expand its investigation into a criminal probe.
James announced on Friday that her office would also working alongside Vance’s probe as she said she has assigned two lawyers to work with the his office on a criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings.
James, a Democrat, said her office is also continuing its ongoing civil investigation into the the Republican ex-president and his company, the Trump Organization.
‘Two of our assistant attorney generals have been cross designated as district attorneys,’ James said at a news conference on an unrelated topic.
The investigations by James and Vance both seem to have started because of Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen who turned on his longtime friend after pleading guilty to lying to Congress and making hush-money payments for him.
Vance started his criminal investigation in 2018 after Cohen pleaded guilty and quickly expanded as he sought out Trump’s tax records.
James began her civil investigation of the Trump Organization in 2019 after Cohen testified before Congress, claiming Trump inflated and deflated the values of his assets – misleading lenders and taxing authorities.
Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of Trump’s longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg, has been cooperating with both investigations.
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.
Trump issued a statement last Wednesday complaining that he’s being ‘unfairly attacked and abused by a corrupt political system.’
He contends the probes are part of a Democratic plot to silence his voters and block him from running for president again.
Trump was pictured arriving at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday morning just days after James announced the criminal probe into his business.
He stepped out of his car on Fifth Avenue and looked at cameras after a trip from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending the summer away from the heat of Mar-a-Lago.
Since James announced the probe, there have been mounting questions over whether Allen Weisselberg will turn on him.
On Thursday, Weisselberg former daughter-in-law Jennifer said he would ‘definitely’ flip on the president and former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res said she believes he is already cooperating with prosecutors.
Mariotti explained that, in order to prove fraud, prosecutors will need to prove if the defendant knew the statements in the documents were false.
‘It’s easier to prove knowledge for people involved in preparing or authorizing the documents, like Weisselberg,’ he said.
‘So don’t be surprised if people like Weisselberg are their initial target, to induce him or others to flip.’
He added: ‘Someone like Trump or his children will only have liability if they knew of the false statements and participated in the scheme in some way or moved it forward somehow.’
Who’s who in New York criminal probe into Trump
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.
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.
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.’