When Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg leaked this week that he was finally presenting a criminal case against Donald Trump to a grand jury, the question was just how serious Bragg was about it. One easy way to determine that is by the witnesses that are being lined up. Michael Cohen, a key inside witness in the case, has already met with the DA’s office and is on board. And yesterday Bragg leaked that Trump Organization Controller Jeff McConney was also testifying against Trump.
This raised questions about what would happen with longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. His guilty plea for tax fraud put him in a position where he was legally required to testify against the Trump Organization in matters related to that same tax fraud – but he’s not legally required to testify about other crimes that Donald Trump has committed.
So now it turns out Bragg has found a creative way to corner Weisselberg and try to force him to testify against Donald Trump in this campaign finance criminal case. According to ABC News, Bragg is threatening to bring additional criminal charges against Weisselberg related to insurance fraud unless he cooperates against Donald Trump in the campaign finance case.
It’s not yet clear what Weisselberg will do. He previously chose to serve a short prison sentence instead of flipping on Donald Trump. But now that Weisselberg is sitting in prison, and he’s being threatened with significantly more prison time, he could end up coming around.
Weisselberg also has to consider that McConney’s willingness to testify against Trump means that McConney is surely willing to testify for any additional charges that Weisselberg might face. In other words, if Weisselberg can see that he’s likely to be convicted for insurance fraud and spend most of the rest of his life in prison (he’s 75 years old), he might reluctantly conclude he has no choice but to flip on Trump.
Whether Weisselberg caves or not, a few things stand out here. First, it’s becoming clear that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who spent last year dragging his feet and refusing to bring a different criminal case against Donald Trump, is now very serious about nailing Trump. Second, the cooperation of Cohen and McConney means that Trump is likely to be convicted even if Weisselberg doesn’t testify. Finally, these leaks to the media have to be coming from Bragg himself, which means he’s very publicly committing himself to indicting Donald Trump and seeing this through to conviction.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report