"Enormous help": Convicted ex-Trump Org CFO left behind "potentially priceless paper trail"

Emails reveal Allen Weisselberg had a secret campaign role, according to The Daily Beast

By Charles R. Davis

Deputy News Editor

Published May 2, 2024 10:00AM (EDT)

Former CFO Allen Weisselberg leaves the courtroom during a trial at the New York Supreme Court on November 17, 2022 in New York City.  (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Former CFO Allen Weisselberg leaves the courtroom during a trial at the New York Supreme Court on November 17, 2022 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Allen Weisselberg is currently sitting in a cell on Rikers Island, again, after pleading guilty to perjury, so it may come as little surprise that the long-time financial controller for the Trump Organization may have been less than honest about the the role he played in his former boss' 2016 campaign for president. But emails obtained by The Daily Beast suggest not only that Weisselberg provided unreported labor for the campaign, in possible violation of campaign finance laws, but specifically helped on its filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The 2016 Trump campaign's compliance with FEC filing requirements is tied to Manhattan criminal case against the former president, who is charged with falsifying business records to avoid reporting a hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Though Weisselberg is not expected to testify in the case, he "left behind a potentially priceless paper trail" for prosecutors, according to the report.

Weisselberg's contribution to the 2016 campaign was detailed in an email sent by Rick Gates, a former Trump aide who himself pleaded to lying about his lobbying for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine.

“I would like to introduce you to Allen Weisselberg who is with the Trump Organization and was an enormous help to us on the campaign,” Gates wrote in the April 19 email, according to The Daily Beast. “Please reach out to Allen and walk him through [the] auditing process for PIC and the activities that were conducted throughout [the] project,” he continued, referring to Trump's presidential inaugural committee.

A printed copy of that email, obtained by The Daily Beast, shows notes in Weisselberg's own handwriting indicating that he "spoke to Rick Gates today about the inauguration accounting" and had requested "full reports showing all money raised and spent" from the third-party firm helping the Trump campaign comply with FEC regulations.

Weisselberg's work appears to constitute an in-kind contribution to the campaign — donated labor — but does not show up on any FEC filings, The Daily Beast noted.

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The revelation that Weisselberg worked on the 2016 campaign comes as prosecutors say they plan to introduce evidence at Trump's criminal trial showing that the former Trump Organization executive was involved in the hush money scheme.

Last month, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo told jurors that Weisselberg worked with former Trump fixer Michael Cohen to cover up the $130,000 payment to Daniels, which the Manhattan District Attorney's Office says should have been reported as a campaign contribution. Cohen was ultimately reimbursed for the payment to the tune of $420,000, an amount intended to cover the taxes he would have to pay for claiming the money as income for legal work.

Prosecutors plan to introduce handwritten notes from Weisselberg showing that the payment from the Trump Organization was intended as a "clever way to pay Cohen back without being too obvious about it," Colangelo said, arguing that the former president would have had to sign off on the arrangement. "They agreed to cook the books."

By Charles R. Davis

Charles R. Davis is Salon's deputy news editor. His work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The New Republic and Columbia Journalism Review.

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Allen Weisselberg Donald Trump Rick Gates