Trump Was Not Indicted. But the Charges Still Threaten Him.

To him, the indictment was political persecution since “Allen Weisselberg is a very decent man.”

When asked if the group had been methodical in avoiding its tax obligations, Mr. Trump refused to answer but termed the matter “ridiculous.”

Donald Trump’s refusal to explore the claims in depth contrasted with his glee when a real estate rival, Leona Helmsley, was convicted with tax offences in 1989, prompting Mr. Trump to brand her a “disgrace to humanity.”.

In some ways, the charges announced on Thursday are a culmination of the district attorney’s probe into the former president, but they may also signify another phase in that inquiry, to which the New York state attorney general Letitia James has been added. Is it possible that Trump kept two sets of books: one for his bankers, which he overvalued, and one for tax authorities which he undervalued? This is the subject of the investigation.

Despite the fact that Mr. Weisselberg is approaching his fifth decade of service to the Trump family, he has been under to enormous pressure from prosecutors for months as they seek to transform him into a cooperating witness. It’s a tough decision for a former coworker, who regarded the CEO as a “disciple” for his dedication to President Trump, to make.

It’s unusual for criminal prosecutions to be based simply on the failure to pay taxes on fringe benefits, according to tax specialists. Those familiar with Mark F. Pomerantz’s tactics, the veteran prosecutor Mr. Vance selected to assist in the probe, say that Thursday’s indictment could represent the beginning of a larger case.

“It could absolutely be used as a foundation. Robert S. Litt, a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Pomerantz’s and a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official, said, “In any case involving an organisation, you’re going to indict people and try to flip them.”

It’s possible that Weisselberg will opt to save himself at the expense of others if the evidence is strong enough and his fear of going to prison is strong enough.