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There may come a day when Donald Trump’s legal woes do not dominate the news cycle, but that day is not today.

This morning, the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg pled guilty to all 15 criminal counts in a tax evasion scheme perpetrated by the former president’s eponymous company. As described in the July 2021 indictment, Weisselberg received hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in the form of indirect income which was then deducted from his pretax salary, thereby reducing his overall compensation and stiffing Uncle Sam and Auntie New York Department of Taxation and Finance of their rightful share.

Prosecutors wrote last year:

The scheme was intended to allow certain employees to substantially understate their compensation from the Trump Organization, so that they could and did pay federal, state, and local taxes in amounts that were significantly less than the amounts that should have been paid. The scheme also enabled Weisselberg to obtain tax refunds of amounts previously withheld and remitted to federal and state tax authorities. Further, the scheme involved the failure of the “Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. to withhold income taxes on wages, salaries, bonuses and other forms of compensation paid to certain employees. The scheme also allowed the Trump Organization to evade the payment of payroll taxes that the Trump Organization was required to pay in connection with employee compensation.

Essentially, Weisselberg received $940,000 in salary and bonus every year between 2011 and 2018, but the Trump Organization paid for many of his living expenses, including rent, cars, and his grandchildren’s private school tuition, with pretax earnings, so that his reported taxable income was reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Naturally, the company kept an internal set of books documenting the running tally.

Weisselberg’s steadfast refusal to “flip” on Trump was reportedly one of the reason’s Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal prosecution of the former president fizzled out. It may also land the 75-year-old accountant in Rikers for a five month stretch — an act of loyalty which would certainly not be reciprocated were the shoe on the other foot. He’ll also have to pony up almost $2 million to repay taxes, penalties, and interest to the state of New York.

“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,” his attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr. said today. “Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him.”

While Weisselberg refused to give up his boss, he has agreed to testify against the company itself. And since the company and Trump were essentially co-terminus for decades, that may turn out to be a distinction without much of a difference. After all, Trump is the one who put his name on those tuition checks. And while DA Bragg may have tapped out, New York Attorney General Letitia James is hot on the trail of the Trump Organization, and the CFO’s incriminating testimony about its internal business practices will certainly inform her efforts to prosecute it civilly.

As DA Bragg said this afternoon, “This plea agreement directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation.”

Of course this comes on the same day when a magistrate judge in Florida said he’d be releasing a redacted version of the affidavit underlying the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. A day after the president’s lawyer testified for six hours to a grand jury in Atlanta about efforts to interfere in the 2020 election. And the same week that news broke that the FBI interviewed former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin about their efforts to secure the return of classified documents retained by the former president in a storage closet near the pool at his private club.

So, perhaps the Weisselberg plea isn’t even top-of-mind in MAGAworld.

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

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