Allen Weisselberg was mentioned in a leaked conversation between President Donald Trump and his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. The conversation, published by CNN, took place about two months before the 2016 election and concerns possible hush payments to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model whom Trump allegedly had an longterm affair with.
In the back and forth, Trump suggested they pay McDougal with cash. Cohen disagreed with Trump, saying that they needed to set up a company to pay her from.
“I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up. So, I’m all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it,” Cohen said.
Who is Allen Weisselberg? We’ve yet to hear his name pop up throughout the president’s myriad of alleged scandals, though Weisselberg has worked closely with the Trump family since the 1970s. He serves as the Chief Financial Officer of The Trump Organization. The Washington Post reported that federal investigators are already looking into Cohen for bank fraud and campaign finance violations. If federal investigators turn their attention on Weisselberg after hearing the audio from the taped conversation, it stands to reason that the longtime Trump confidant knows much more than Cohen about Trump’s finances.
Here’s what you need to know about Allen Weisselberg, the longtime Trump family employee who has kept a remarkably low profile:
1. Weisselberg is the CFO of The Trump Organization
Weisselberg, 70, is considered to be one of Trump’s closest business confidants, according to Timothy L. O’Brien, a journalist who wrote a Trump biography called TrumpNation in 2005.
As the CFO of the Trump Organization, Weisselberg has deep knowledge of Trump’s finances and business decisions. He currently manages the company as a partner alongside Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr. He’s held a high position at the Trump Organization since the late 1980s.
Despite holding a high position within the Trump Organization since the late 1980s, Weisselberg has remained out of the limelight throughout his tenure working for Trump. He has been known, however, to play hardball with those who the Trump Organization owed money.
On one occasion reported by the New York Times, when lawyer Y. Daivd Scharf sought to collect $470,000 owed to him by the organization, Weisselberg tried to get the bill reduced by 50 percent due to a minor clerical error. Scharf had inadvertently placed a page of a separate legal bill in his invoice.
“Mr. Weisselberg threatened to call Mr. Icahn and utilize this inadvertent clerical error in an effort to embarrass Mr. Scharf and my firm — unless my firm agreed to a 50 percent discount on the outstanding legal bills,” Scharf’s co-worker David A. Piedra said in a letter to a lawyer representing Trump in 2007.
Scharf’s firm, Morrison Cohen, saw the play by Weisselberg as an attempt at extortion, though the parties eventually resolved the situation amicably.
It seems that Weisselberg’s actions as CFO almost always go through Trump himself, at least before he was elected president. Despited being the CFO, checks signed by the Trump Organization have historically been written by Trump, not Weisselberg.
In a 2016 email to the Wall Street Journal, Ivanka Trump detailed Weisselberg’s important role within the Trump Organization. “He plays an integral part in the Trump Organization’s growth and continued financial success. He is deeply passionate, fiercely loyal and has stood alongside my father and our family for over [three] decades.”
2. Weisselberg Also Worked for The Trump Foundation as Treasurer & Served on the board of the Miss Universe Organization
While serving as the CFO of the Trump Organization, Weisselberg also worked as the treasurer for The Donald J. Trump Foundation — the same foundation that the New York State Attorney General sued in June for repeated violations of state and federal law, including illegal self-dealing with Trump’s political campaign. The foundation had been under investigation since 2016 and has effectively remained dormant ever since. The foundations numerous ethical and legal violations included illegal donations, moving personal and business income into the foundation under the guise of donations, and failing to follow IRS grant rules, among others.
Weisselberg has not been charged with any crime for his role as treasurer at the Trump Foundation.
Before the Trump Organization sold the Miss Universe Pageant in 2015, Weisselberg served on the board.
3. Weisselberg Knew Trump had Retained Cohen but Claimed to Not Know About Payments to Stormy Daniels
According to a report from the New York Times, Weisselberg had knowledge of Michael Cohen’s retainer in 2017, which was used to pay off Stormy Daniels. President Trump paid Cohen $35,000 a month through his personal trust, money that was used to pay Daniels in October 2016 to keep her from going public about her alleged 2008 affair with the president.
Two sources close to Weisselberg said that although the CFO knew about the retainer, he did not know about the payments to Daniels.
4. Weisselberg Handles Some of Trump’s Personal Transactions as Well
Along with his duties at the Trump Organization, Weisselberg has handled a myriad of Trump’s personal purchases. These purchases include: household bills and expensive buys like cars and boats, according to a former Trump Organization executive.
5. Weisselberg Was Hired by Fred Trump Right Out of College as an Accountant
Weisselberg graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn in the late 1960s. He went on to attend Pace University and earned an accounting degree in 1970. Upon graduation, He became the personal accountant for Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father. Weisselberg has been married to is wife, Hilary, for 48 years.
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