Jury selection was set to begin Monday in the Manhattan criminal case against the Trump Organization, which is accused of helping its executives dodge taxes on perks like free apartments and cars.
The tax fraud case was built after Manhattan prosecutors went to the Supreme Court twice to gain access to former President Donald Trump’s tax records. It is the only criminal trial to stem from those efforts to date.
Trump, 76, isn’t on trial or expected to testify, though he did sign some checks at the center of the case. He has denied any wrongdoing and slammed the case as a “political witch hunt.”
It’s expected to take one to two weeks to pick a jury. Defense attorneys and prosecutors will likely look to keep people with strong political opinions out of the jury box, which may prove challenging in Manhattan, where Trump earned just 12% of the vote for president in 2020.
Justice Juan Manuel Merchan expects the trial to last at least four weeks once a jury is seated. If found guilty, the Trump Organization could be fined more than $1 million and lose leverage in business dealings.
The prosecution’s star witness will likely be longtime Trump Org chief financial officer-turned-government cooperator Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty this summer to accepting $1.7 million under the table from the company in a scheme to defraud the government.
The investigation into Trump and his business dealings was inherited by District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who continued to pursue it after two prosecutors handling the case resigned earlier in the year amid doubts about its direction.
The turncoat longtime Trump confidant, who copped to 15 tax evasion felonies, agreed to testify against the company in the coming trial as part of his plea deal.
Bragg, who has faced heat from both sides of the aisle over his soft-on-crime policies, had declined to specifically prosecute the ex-president, who transferred ownership of the company to Weisselberg and his oldest children in 2017 after ascending to the White House.
The Trump Org faces more legal action in Albany, where it — along with Trump and his kids Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr. — is being sued for $250 million by Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly fraudulently inflating the value of properties.
With Post wires