Notes indicate Trump Organization tax-fraud jury may be zipping through deliberations on its 2nd day

This side-by-side photo shows former President Donald Trump, left, and the exterior of Trump Tower, where the Trump Organization is headquartered.
Former President Donald Trump, left, and the exterior of Trump Tower, where the Trump Organization is headquartered.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, left. Nicolas Economou/Getty Images, right.
  • Tuesday is the first full day of deliberations in the Trump Org. tax-fraud trial in Manhattan.

  • Jury notes have asked for readbacks of the law for counts 2, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

  • The requests may indicate the jury is moving briskly through the nine-count case. Or it may not.

A Manhattan jury began its second day of deliberations Tuesday in the state tax-fraud case against the Trump Organization.

And while it's impossible to tell what's going on in the jury room, jurors' first two notes could indicate they are working their way briskly through the nine-count indictment.

On Monday, during their first four hours of deliberations, jurors sent out a note asking for a readback of the jury charge for count two, which charges Trump's real-estate and golf-resort empire with conspiring in a decade-long tax-dodge scheme run by its top financial executives.

Then, on Tuesday morning, the jurors asked for readbacks of the law for counts 6, 7 and 8,which allege the company falsified business records when it generated false W-2 forms for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Later, at 11:30 a.m., they sent out their third note, requesting a readback for the jury charge for the final count, 9, which alleges falsifications in an important set of general ledgers kept for Trump himself.

Are they zipping through the nine-count indictment? Are they at the deliberations finish line, less than six hours into deliberations?

There is, of course, no way of knowing what's going on; defense lawyers and prosecutors often caution each other not to try to interpret the inscrutable "tea leaves" that are juror notes.

Just before the lunch break, jurors sent back a note requesting readback of testimony by the prosecution's second witness, Deborah Tarasoff, the Trump Organization's accounts payable supervisor.

Tarasoff provided key testimony on the ninth count — describing how she inputted the falsification. She also brushed off the DA's strongest evidence linking Trump to the scheme, his signatures on a series of checks, as mere "gifts."

But there was one clear sign of juror unanimity, also on Tuesday.

A court officer sent in to the trial judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, a folded-over piece of white notebook paper.

On it was written in pen the numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, and 11.

"Five jurors who are not taking notes are requesting to be given writing materials so they can take notes now," the judge told the parties, five Trump lawyers and three prosecutors who had gathered in the courtroom for the latest update.

"It was a communication from the court officer," Merchan said, holding up the note, which listed the juror numbers of those to receive notebooks.

"There are no words on it, just the numbers," the judge said of the new court exhibit, with some wryness in his voice. "But I'll hand it down so you can take a look at it."

A court clerk, a young woman, held the notebook paper gingerly by one corner, between her thumb and index finger, and walked it past first the defense table, then the prosecution table. The attorneys all leaned forward as it passed them.

"Let the record reflect," the judge said, still sounding bemused by the odd court exhibit, "that the defendants and the prosecution have seen—" he paused and smiled — "the numbers."

The five jurors got their new blank notebooks in time to take notes on charges 6, 7, 8, and 9.

The four-women, eight-man jury is deciding if two Trump subsidiaries — the Trump Corporation, which directly employs its top executives, and the Trump Payroll Corporation, which pays everyone, both doing business as the Trump Organization — are criminally liable for a decade-long tax-fraud scheme.

Defense lawyers insist that no one named Trump was involved in the scheme, which was admittedly run by ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg and top payroll executive Jeffrey McConney.

Prosecutors have countered that Weisselberg and McConney were not "rogue" executives but highly loyal ones. They told jurors that Weisselberg and McConney intended to benefit not just themselves through the tax-dodge scheme, but their company as well — an essential element under New York's corporate liability law.

Prosecutors have also cited numerous documents signed by Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump as evidence they were aware of the scheme.

Trump himself is not on trial, nor is any of his three eldest children, who have all served as his executive vice presidents — just the two subsidiaries.

But a tax-fraud conviction would cost the Trump Organization a penalty up to $1.6 million. Felony status for his company would also be a significant black eye for Trump as he gears up his third campaign for the presidency.

 

Read the original article on Business Insider