A Look at the Stakes as Trump Trial Begins

Trump Organization (but not the ex-president) faces criminal charges of tax avoidance
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2022 9:45 AM CDT
Big Trial Begins for Trump's Business Empire
Former President Donald Trump is seen at a rally at the Minden-Tahoe Airport in Minden, Nev., on Oct. 8.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Villegas, Pool, File)

One of the legal issues Donald Trump has been embroiled in comes to a head on Monday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Jury selection begins in a trial to determine whether the former president's family business empire ran afoul of tax laws. The notable part here: While the Trump Organization has been involved in plenty of civil cases over the years, this is the first criminal trial, reports the Wall Street Journal. Coverage:

  • Allegations: The Manhattan district attorney says company execs received lucrative perks for years but failed to pay taxes on them. Essentially, the company is accused by District Attorney Alvin Bragg of keeping two sets of books to conceal the perks from the IRS, per the Washington Post. (The company's longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, previously pleaded guilty.)

  • Not charged: Trump himself isn't charged, nor are any members of his family, and the former president isn't expected to testify. The AP notes that Trump is calling the case a "political witch hunt," and his lawyers have echoed the sentiment: "Compensation cases are resolved by civil tax authorities, not criminal charges," the company's lawyers have said, per the Journal. The company is expected to argue that Weisselberg shirked taxes on his own, not in cahoots with the company, per the New York Times.
  • The stakes: If found guilty, the company faces a fine of more than $1 million, which the Times notes is a relative "rounding error." More significantly, NPR suggests a guilty verdict "could make it very difficult for the company to continue doing business with banks and insurers." The Times, however, isn't so sure about that. Yes, some, lenders and partners might be scared off, but the company "has survived years of scrutiny from prosecutors and lawmakers." Still, it's a potentially "embarrassing" case for Trump himself and just one of a number of legal fights he's engaged in.
  • Early challenge: One potentially difficult task begins Monday with jury selection. The AP notes that potential jurors will likely be asked about their feelings on Trump and whether they can be neutral either way. The process could take several days as both sides try to assemble an open-minded group.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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