As NBC News reported back at the beginning of the month, the 15-count indictment against Weisselberg is indicative of two things: the now-former CFO seems not ready to flip at the moment, and this is highly unlikely to be the end of the investigation underway by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. But the fact that Weisselberg is currently pleading not guilty isn’t an absolute sign that he’s locked in position. It’s a sign that Weisselberg—and Weisselberg’s attorneys—know that he’s not the end game of this investigation. Since Vance (and a number of other investigations) are really aimed at the guy whose golden letters are over the door, there’s no point in trying to make a deal too early.
Weisselberg’s team will sit back for the moment and see what Vance produces on his own. If it becomes clear that Vance absolutely needs the just-ousted CFO’s help to nail down charges against Trump, then Weisselberg will be in an excellent position to bargain away the indictments he is currently facing. If it starts to sound like Vance might pull up a net full of Trumps on his own, expect Weisselberg’s attorneys to be on the horn immediately, looking to spill while what he has to sell still holds value.
In any case, the change in Weisselberg’s role at the Trump Organization appears to be nothing but a transparent effort to put a pretense of distance between the company and the guy facing 15 counts of tax fraud. Weisselberg isn’t actually leaving the company, and it seems that his actual role isn’t really changing beyond where his name appears on the paperwork.
Which makes it worth setting the wayback machine to 2018, when Trump loudly defended Michael Cohen as someone “I have always liked and respected” and as someone who would not flip on him “despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media.” And that all turned out so well for Cohen.
As NBC News makes clear, the fact that the first set of indictments made by Vance didn’t include a laundry list of charges aimed at Trump may be disappointing, but it’s an indication of an investigation that’s proceeding in a way that is very carefully crossing the “t”s and dotting every “i.” If the evidence is there of Trump’s direct involvement in the fraud and disdain for legal governance that seems to be the hallmark of the Trump Organization, it will likely come forth in time.
On the other hand, Trump didn’t employ Weisselberg for nothing. On paper at least, the 500+ entangled corporations, many of which have—or at least, had—Weisselberg occupying that same CFO role, may actually make it difficult to find Trump’s signature in a spot where he is clearly, knowingly, approving an illegal act. As Cohen made clear during his testimony to Congress, Trump was very good at making clear to underlings what he wanted them to do, while not saying it outright.
Allen Weisselberg may not be ready to flip at the moment, but somewhere he and his attorneys better be building a very thick dossier of what they have to offer when the time comes. Because there’s no one left at Pennsylvania Avenue who’s going to see that the ex-CFO gets a nice, fast pardon.