June 13, 2021

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Grand jury seated to consider Trump business dealings evidence, reports say – CBS News

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New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business dealings, a person familiar with the case told CBS News. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which cited “two people familiar with the development.” An anonymous source also confirmed the news to The Associated Press.

The Post said the panel “is expected to decide whether to indict” the former president, “other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges.”

The CBS News source said it appears the panel was convened recently and is handling several cases in addition to the one involving Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization.

The Post said the grand jury will sit three days a week for six months.

In a statement late Tuesday night that didn’t specifically confirm that the grand jury had been empaneled, the former president said, “This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it’s never stopped.”

He said it “continues to this day, with illegally leaked confidential information.”

Mr. Trump also called it “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.”

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

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

His office declined to comment.

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 Mr. 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.

The new panel is the latest sign of increasing momentum in the criminal investigation into the Republican ex-president and the Trump Organization.

New York State 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 Mr. Trump evolved into a criminal matter.

James, a Democrat, said her office also is continuing its civil investigation into Mr. Trump. She didn’t 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 Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, 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.

Mr. Trump said in a statement last week that he’s 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 Mr. Trump’s accounting firm and obtain eight years of tax returns and related documents involving  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 Mr. Trump’s longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg. His former daughter-in-law, Jen Weisselberg, is cooperating with both inquiries.

She’s 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 by the AP with Jen Weisselberg’s lawyer.

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