That level of organization—spreadsheets documenting rigorous tax evasion, for heaven’s sake!—should answer the questions about whether these charges will hold up. Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, tweeted, “I’m not optimistic that Weisselberg will flip but I am optimistic he’ll be convicted. The law is fairly clear on what is income & what is taxable. He’s a sophisticated executive; mistake is implausible. The company booked much of it as income. And juries hate rich tax cheats.”
But there are still more questions than answers at this point.
Will these be the first of several waves of charges? That in part depends on a second question: Will prosecutors convince Weisselberg that he’s in enough danger to be worth cooperating, opening up a greater possibility of charges against members of the Trump family? Thus far Weisselberg has remained staunchly loyal to Trump, and appears to be betting on being able to beat the felony charges he faces, including scheme to defraud, grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, and more. But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James do have more investigations in play, and they could still uncover further leverage against Weisselberg or nail down more potential charges against the Trump Organization or the Trump family.
Will the charges make it more difficult for the Trump Organization to do business? Probably, but how much so remains to be seen. Officials at a major holder of Trump debt, Deutsche Bank, “have determined that it could demand immediate repayment of its loans to the company only if the Trump Organization were charged—and convicted—of bank-related fraud, according to a person familiar with the internal deliberations,” and so far the charges don’t include bank fraud. But the company’s ability to find partners in new deals has already taken a hit thanks to Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and these criminal charges are unlikely to have new deal-making partners lining up for a piece of the action.
How, if at all, will the charges influence Donald Trump’s political future? One possibility is that he definitively decides to run for president in 2024 because doing so would help insulate him from prosecution, since prosecutors are traditionally reluctant to appear to interfere in elections. “But several allies and advisers believe he would not risk losing another general election,” The New York Times reports. “On Wednesday, shortly after the indictments were filed, Mr. Trump said at a Fox News town hall that he had made a final decision on whether to run. He did not say what the decision was.”
Of course, Trump claiming to have made a final decision does not mean Trump has made a final decision. One thing is certain about Trump’s relationship to these charges, though: He—along with his family members and supporters—will continue to claim they’re a partisan witch hunt. Because Donald Trump does not believe that he or anyone close to him could ever legitimately face consequences for their own actions, and he’s not about to start understanding that now.