Manhattan DA convenes new grand jury in Trump Organization probe

The proceedings will reportedly take a look at the way Trump's company valued its assets

Published November 4, 2021 6:35PM (EDT)

Donald Trump (Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

Another long-term grand jury, created with the intention of hearing evidence against former president Donald Trump's business empire (and potentially vote on criminal charges), was convened by the Manhattan district attorney recently, according to a report.

These proceedings, the second grand jury formed in Manhattan DA Cy Vance's ongoing probe of the Trump Organization, are expected to examine whether Trump's company valued its assets in a way that allowed it to criminally skirt tax liabilities, according to a source who spoke with The Washington Post.

This differentiates the current grand jury from a previous one Vance had convened this past spring to handle allegations that the Trump Organization dodged millions of dollars on their taxes by hiding their compensation from the IRS using assets and apartment payments, among other things. That probe ended with charges against the company's former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and other executives. 

For their part, both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.

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Vance is set to leave office by the end of the year following Tuesday's election — leaving the new Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, to inherit the investigation into the twice-impeached former president's business dealings. Vance declined to speak with the Post about his investigation, while Bragg has also repeatedly declined to make a statement about the matter while on the campaign trail.

The new grand jury is set to meet at least three days a week over the next six months, the Post reported, and will be shunted off to a courtroom normally reserved for estate disputes due to the crush of post-pandemic trial activity.

Trump and his family have blasted Vance's probe in the past, saying the investigation — as well as another spearheaded by New York Attorney General Letitia James — is motivated strictly by political animus.

"This type of targeting and harassment violates every ethical guideline of a prosecutor," Eric Trump previously told the Post.It's wrong."

This isn't the first time the Trump Organization is facing allegations that it manipulated the valuation of its assets in order to avoid taxes — in court filings James has indicated that her investigation is focusing in part on the valuations of a Trump golf course in Los Angeles, an office building he owns on Wall Street in Manhattan and a suburban New York estate called Seven Springs.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen also made similar accusations during Congressional testimony in 2019.

"It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes," Cohen said at the time.

It is unclear whether Vance's second grand jury will return any charges — it remains possible that the proceedings end without issuing any indictments. 

More on the growing legal case against the Trump Organization:

By Brett Bachman

Brett Bachman was the Nights/Weekend Editor at Salon.

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