Here’s the thing about Allen Weisselberg’s prison sentence and testimony

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Allen Weisselberg’s lenient prison sentence is what got the Trump Organization convicted of seventeen felonies. Without his testimony, that conviction probably doesn’t happen. So let’s wait for the Trump Organization sentencing before judging whether Weisselberg’s leniency was worth it.

The other aspect that everyone is overlooking: Weisselberg’s guilty plea legally requires him to cooperate with all investigations into the crimes he participated in. If the Manhattan DA (or DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith or New York Attorney General Letitia James) indicts Donald Trump on tax fraud, Weisselberg will have to testify in those trials as well. Failure to do so would make Weisselberg guilty of new crimes, and would land him a longer prison sentence.

So it’s important to take a longer view when trying to evaluate these kinds of stories. This particular story was widely reported in misleading fashion from the start, with most news outlets and pundits glossing over the fact that pleading guilty to a crime eliminates Fifth Amendment rights regarding that crime, and instead painting an outrage-inducing picture of Weisselberg having gotten a lenient sentence without having to cooperate at all.

   

It’s now clear for all to see that this was never the case, given that Weisselberg did indeed reluctantly testify in the criminal trial against the Trump Organization, and that the result was a felony conviction on seventeen counts. And this is before getting to the question of whether other prosecutors have also quietly tapped Weisselberg on the shoulder and forced him to provide testimony in those criminal cases as well. Stay tuned; the outcome here is far from settled.

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