Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced Friday that he will not run for re-election—but it sure sounds like he’s trying his hardest to ensure his last months in office come to a dramatic climax as he weighs up whether to charge a case against former President Donald Trump.
In a piece for The New Yorker, investigative journalist Jane Mayer reports that Vance’s office has dramatically accelerated the investigation into Trump’s business dealings in recent weeks—particularly since it got its hands on Trump’s tax records at the end of a long legal battle last month. As one person said to be closely involved in the investigation told The New Yorker: “They mean business now... It hit me—they’re closer.”
One interesting new detail from the probe comes from Jennifer Weisselberg—the former daughter-in-law of Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. Allen Weisselberg has reportedly been identified by prosecutors as the most likely candidate to flip against Trump and spill all the gory details of his business dealings. And, by the sounds of it, his former daughter-in-law has already picked her side.
In her first substantial public comments on the case, Jennifer Weisselberg confirmed that she’s spoken to investigators about ex-husband Barry Weisselberg’s time managing the Trump-operated ice-skating rink and carousel in Central Park. Specifically, Jennifer Weisselberg said that investigators have asked about the seven rent-free years they spent in a Trump-owned apartment overlooking Central Park.
“Only a small part of your salary is reported,” she said. “They pay you with apartments and other stuff, as a control tactic, so you can’t leave. They own you! You have to do whatever corrupt crap they ask.” If this alleged gift wasn’t declared in tax forms, prosecutors could use it against the couple—and as leverage to tempt Allen Weisselberg into cooperating.
However, Jennifer Weisselberg thinks it’s unlikely her ex-father-in-law will play ball, saying: “He has more feelings and adoration for Donald than for his wife... For Donald, it’s a business. But for Allen, it’s a love affair.” As an example, she recalled to Mayer being hit on by Trump in front of her then father-in-law—at a shivah for Allen’s deceased mother—and said with incredulity: “He didn’t stand up for me!” Jennifer Weisselberg also said that, at the same event to mourn the dead, Trump showed people photographs of naked women with him on a yacht.
Separately, Mayer also reported the first details of the whereabouts of Trump’s tax documents after they were provided to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in February. The hard drive is believed to be in an incredibly high-security chamber within the Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building. The chamber is reported to be sealed by bank-vault-style doors, and lined with copper foil to stop remote tampering attempts.
Meanwhile, CNN reported Friday that Trump’s time in the White House has given New York prosecutors a possible boost for any case against Trump. Prosecutors have reportedly discussed using a section of New York criminal procedure that allows for the extension of the statute of limitations if a defendant has been out of state “continuously,” as Trump has been since he took office in 2017. According to CNN, prosecutors think that could afford them more time to investigate Trump’s business dealings.
However, while the investigation is heating up, there is clearly still a lot of work to do before Vance departs office in nine months—and there’s still a possibility that the investigation will be closed with no charges.
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told The New Yorker, “All the signals indicate that there’s a belief on the part of that office that there’s a good chance of a charge... [But] no one should be under the illusion that this is easy or a slam-dunk case.”