The possibility that former President Donald Trump, his associates or his company could face criminal charges started to seem more real this week when The Washington Post announced that a special grand jury had been convened in New York to hear testimony from prosecutors investigating Trump’s business dealings.
The grand jury is expected to serve a six-month term, far longer than the one-month term of most grand juries. He will hear evidence gathered in a two-year investigation that involved two Supreme Court rulings giving the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office access to the former president’s tax returns.
The length of the grand jury term signals that prosecutors are preparing to present a complex and lengthy case, said Rebecca Roiphe, a New York Law School professor who previously served as a Manhattan prosecutor.
It’s the start of a process, Roiphe said, that usually leads to criminal prosecution. “It’s unlikely we won’t see an indictment when this is over,” she said. State-level data is difficult to obtain, but a Washington Post To analyse of federal grand juries in 2014 found that they dismissed indictments in 99.99% of cases.
What is a Grand Jury?
In the US federal court system as well as many states, including New York, a criminal charge is brought after a grand jury determines that there is “probable cause” to believe that a person or entity has committed a criminal offence.
A grand jury proceeding is not like a trial; no one represents the person suspected of a crime. The standard joke about grand juries in the United States is that the standard of proof is so low that a competent prosecutor could ask a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.
But according to Roiphe, it’s important to note that the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has made it a point not to prosecute borderline cases. “They’re not going to go to a grand jury with just the bare minimum to get an indictment,” she said. Additionally, she noted, New York’s grand jury rules are stricter than federal evidentiary rules, making hearsay testimony inadmissible.
Who is investigating Trump?
Vance, the son of former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, had been investigating Trump’s business practices for at least two years. Last week, Letitia James, the New York State Attorney General, announced that a separate investigation, originally civil in nature, had been turned into a criminal investigation and that her office would share resources with Vance, essentially joining the two surveys.
The combined judicial power of Vance and James’ offices is supplemented by outside assistance. Vance made the unusual decision to hire Mark Pomerantz, a white-collar criminal defense attorney who previously served as chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he led several high-profile investigations. on organized crime.
What do we know about the survey?
Details of the investigation are not public, and Trump has fought to discredit it.
“We have known for some time that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office was investigating him for a host of possible criminal offenses, including tax evasion, insurance fraud, tampering with records and others,” the statement said. attorney Danya Perry, who previously served as New York State Deputy Attorney General and as a federal prosecutor.
Trump’s son, Eric Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify, and there are reports that investigators are investigating payments the Trump Organization made to his daughter Ivanka Trump that were written off as fees. consultation.
Who is Allen Weisselberg?
Prosecutors seem particularly interested in Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer. Among other things, prosecutors are believed to be investigating whether Weisselberg received compensation from Trump that was not reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
There is widespread speculation that the focus on Weisselberg is an effort to pressure him into a deal with prosecutors that would secure his testimony against the former president.
Weisselberg, who worked for Trump’s father Fred Trump before Donald Trump took over the company, has been the chief financial officer since 2000.
Could Trump go to jail?
The former president is a private citizen, and much of the activity under investigation took place before he took office, meaning his service as chief executive is not a shield.