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The Trump Organization's conviction will help connect the man himself to the fraud cases: legal experts
The fine that the Trump Organization will be forced to pay in the New York case is not tax-deductible, quipped New York Times reporter Susanne Craig about the recent 17 guilty verdicts. She went on to explain that listening to the trial it became very clear that the idea that only CFO Allen Weisselberg got the fringe benefits were not believable.
This happens amid the possibility that the Manhattan District Attorney could levy a case he'd been criticized for putting aside, which could result in a $250 million fine. In this case, it is no more than $1.7 million.
Former FBI general counsel and NYU law school professor, Andrew Weissmann explained that the charges specifically focused on the company and not Donald Trump himself. The DA did not pursue Trump as an individual despite him directing the company.
"But there is a big 'however,' which is that, in the proof at trial, as the government said in its summation, included proof that Donald Trump knew of this wide-ranging, as you said, 15-year conspiracy, that was ongoing in the two Trump Organizations," he explained. "And, frankly, the idea that it would have been ongoing for 15 years in a small company and it was happening behind his back, when his own company and he were benefitting from it which seems, you know, laughable. I think that's part of the reason that the jury came back, you know, so quickly here."
Former U.S. Attorney, Harry Litman explained that the conviction here will likely make the New York attorney general's case broader.
Attorney General Letitia James released a statement saying, "We can have no tolerance for individuals or organizations that violate our laws to line their pockets. I commend Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his team for their successful prosecution of the Trump Organization, and I was proud to assist in this important case. This verdict sends a clear message that no one, and no organization, is above our laws."
Her state charges against the Trump Organization include a charge for CFO Allen Weisselberg as well around insurance fraud.
Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu recalled that Bragg had previously dropped the case against Trump as an individual, leading to the resignation of top prosecutors Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz who believed that a case could be made.
"Sure the case is significant but Trump will spin it - as did his defense counsel - as being all his CFO Alan Weisselberg's fault who pled guilty to tax fraud and happily took his sweet-heart of 5 months jail followed by probation," said Wu.
Harry Litman agreed with Wu, noting that Bragg targeting Trump is likely on the horizon.
"Just on the evidence in the trial, not only was the Trump stuff part of it," said Litman. "But it was actually joined at closing by the defense. In other words, you can see this, and law authorities will see this as a likely determination by a jury of Trump's involvement in the overall scheme."
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen also explained that he has spoken to the DA over a dozen times about exactly this.
The next question is whether the IRS will also take up the case. As Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation at NYU Daniel Shaviro explained, it will be difficult to see how the Trump Org. could be considered innocent of federal tax fraud while being guilty of state-level charges. James has made a referral to the IRS already.
"But arguably of greater interest would be federal and state tax fraud (and other) charges against Trump himself," Shaviro said.
Legal commentator Bradley Moss quipped, "You know who doesn’t have a corporation named after him that was convicted of tax fraud? Joe Biden."
Not only did Weisselberg score the benefits, but so did Trump's own children.
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On Monday, "Cheers" actor Kirstie Alley was reported to have died after a brief illness. “We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” wrote her children True and Lillie Parker in a statement.
But according to VICE News, this explanation from her loved ones did not satisfy the QAnon movement, an infamous group of believers in an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that America is controlled by cannibalistic, child-trafficking Satanists. Many of them are now convinced that Alley, an outspoken anti-vaxxer, was assassinated for her opposition to the COVID vaccines.
"On the QAnon message board the Great Awakening, members concluded that the sudden nature of Alley’s death was a clear sign that her death was part of a global plot to silence critics of the COVID vaccines," reported David Gilbert. "'I wholly believe the [deep state] has a way of dosing people with poisons that create aggressive cancers,' one member wrote. Another added: 'She either just drew the short straw or she was poisoned by the Deep State for being a public Patriot.'"
Alley previously claimed that she would be "ignoring" vaccine mandates until they "can prevent me from getting COVID or prevent you from getting it." In fact, the vaccines do both those things. A supporter of former President Donald Trump, Alley has also promoted QAnon content herself.
As the report noted, the QAnon movement often attributes any sudden death of a public figure to the COVID vaccines, spurred by the recent release of a debunked antivaxxer propaganda film, "Died Suddenly." Because Alley was well known not to have taken the vaccine, some believers are now speculating that she was forcibly given the shot, in order to kill her.
"Some conspiracy theorists claimed on extremist message boards, as well as social networks like Truth Social, Gab, and Telegram, that because she had recently joined the cast of The Masked Singer Alley would have been 'forced' to get a vaccine against her will. Others speculated, without any evidence, that she would have had to be vaccinated in order to receive treatment for her cancer," said the report. "One member of a conspiracy group on Telegram claimed they had called the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, where Alley was being treated to try and find out if patients there needed a COVID vaccine in order to be admitted. The person got no answer but encouraged others to call the hospital on Tuesday morning to try and get an answer. 'Can't help but wonder if 'they' got her in another way,' another member of the group wrote."
Michael Cohen spoke out after the guilty verdict against the Trump Organization on Tuesday. A jury convicted the company of 17 charges involving tax fraud and other forms of financial wrongdoing.
"Despite the quick and accurate determination by the jury convicting the Trump Organization on all counts, once again the man behind all the decisions and actions at the company escapes culpability," Cohen told Raw Story in a statement.
Trump has been ranting for the past several weeks that his actions over the past 15 years were just "fringe benefits" that all companies do. It doesn't, however, mean that it is legal.
Speaking to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace after the verdict was announced, Cohen explained that he was shocked that Allen "Weisselberg has been less than truthful, despite the potential consequences of a lengthy prison sentence."
Weisselberg made was that he would tell the truth and if he didn't, he would be sent to prison for much longer than just a few months. Testifying before the court, Weisselberg refused to cooperate and did not fully implicate Donald Trump. Weisselberg even went so far as to say that he was the one responsible for the fringe benefits. The jury, however, found that Weisselberg was lying, finding the Trump Org. guilty of a company-wide conspiracy.
Cohen also mentioned the recently renewed investigation in Alvin Bragg's Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
He explained that he's spoken with the DA's office more than a dozen times and that it has made Trump "very nervous."
"Without getting into the specifics, I don't think it's right for the case, especially as it looks like there might be a case being brought. I can tell you he should be very uncomfortable. Alvin Bragg to have looking at this new attorney Matthew Colangelo, he really should be quite concerned," Cohen closed.
See the interview below: