The Trump Organization and former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg on Tuesday asked a judge to dismiss the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal fraud and tax evasion charges against them, claiming they’ve been targeted because of politics.
Former President Donald Trump’s eponymous company was accused in July of providing executives with lavish untaxed perks, or “indirect employee compensation.” Weisselberg, who had been at Trump’s side at the company for decades, was accused of receiving perks — including an apartment and car — worth $1.7 million.
Weisselberg and the company have entered not guilty pleas.
In Tuesday’s filings, lawyers claimed the company and former CFO were “improperly targeted….based on political animus.” Trump is a Republican, while Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James are Democrats.
A spokesperson for Bragg did not immediately return a request for comment.
Weisselberg’s lawyers claimed the tax charges are related to federal income tax returns, and are therefore not in the Manhattan district attorney’s jurisdiction. They also wrote that the charges against Weisselberg should be tossed because he received immunity against certain federal charges when he testified to a federal grand jury investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
They argued that Cohen’s later cooperation in the Manhattan case was in part due to Cohen having a “vendetta” against Weisselberg for his role in Cohen’s conviction.
In a text message to CBS News on Tuesday, Cohen said, “There is no vendetta, as alleged here…only an interest in seeing justice served and to ensure that no one is above the law!”
Weisselberg’s attorneys are also asking the judge in the case to suppress evidence from two Manhattan district attorney investigators who they say “struck up small talk” with Weisselberg while he was in custody, arguing the investigators essentially tricked him into divulging information he might otherwise not have with a lawyer present.
The judge will rule on the motions to dismiss after prosecutors file their response.
The filings comes less than a week after Trump and the company suffered a defeat in their fight against a parallel civil investigation being run by James. A judge ruled Thursday that Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, can be deposed as part of the New York Attorney General’s Office’s fraud probe.
A February 14 filing in that investigation revealed that Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, recently informed the Trump Organization that it was recanting a decade of financial statements prepared for the company and would no longer work for it.
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