The indictment in New York has been unsealed. Dana Milbank writes:
The charges in New York against the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg are extensive and serious. Scheme to Defraud. Conspiracy. Grand Larceny. Criminal Tax Fraud. Offering a False Instrument. Falsifying of Business Records. There were 15 counts in all, and New York prosecutors left hints that this is but an amuse-bouche compared to what’s coming. There were references to unnamed “other executives” compensated the same way Weisselberg was, “others” who implemented the fraudulent scheme, “including unindicted co-conspirator #1.”
The alleged scheme was straightforward, if sleazy: Weisselberg, like other Trump executives, was paid “off the books” in the form of rent payments, private school tuition, luxury-car leases, end-of-year cash payments disguised as “Holiday Entertainment,” and new beds, televisions, carpeting and furniture. The indictment makes clear the Trump executives knew they were doing wrong and tried to hide it: “On or about September 2016, Allen Weisselberg directed a staff member in the accounting department to remove the notations ‘Per Allen Weisselberg’ from the entries in Donald J. Trump’s Detail General Ledger relating to tuition payments paid on Weisselberg’s behalf to his family members’ private school.”
There is nothing surprising in any of this:
What’s most remarkable about the indictment is how unremarkable it is. Fraud? Conspiracy? Falsifying? Anybody who has lived through the past five years knows that this is Trump’s M.O. He ran the country with an endless series of falsifications, conspiracies and frauds. He ran his charity as a personal piggy bank. The surprising thing would be if Trump hadn’t run his business the same way.
The frauds and falsehoods of the Trump presidency led hundreds of thousands of Americans needlessly to lose their lives and provoked the worst attack on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812. Compared to that, the scheme alleged by prosecutors is small potatoes: $1.76 million in indirect compensation to Weisselberg, translating to just over $1 million stolen from the U.S. and New York city and state treasuries, and the taxpayers. Even if the case expands to other executives and other schemes, even if the entire Trump Organization turned out to be an Enron-style shell game, the damage done would be a pittance compared to the damage done by his presidency, and the much greater damage that could be done by another.
But, as it always is with Trump, there is more to come. This is only the beginning.