Recap: Trump Organization criminal tax-fraud trial kicked off in New York

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at CPAC in Dallas, Tex., on August 6, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty Images
  • The criminal tax-fraud case against the Trump Organization is taking place in Manhattan.

  • Donald Trump's business empire was accused of defrauding tax authorities by paying executives off the books.

  • Trump's lawyers were fighting over three words that could affect who wins the trial.

Trump Org is battling prosecutors over 3 little words that could swing the New York tax-fraud trial

Trump
Former President Donald Trump talks to supporters at Mar-a-lago on November 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida.Andrew Harnik/AP

Donald Trump's business empire is in a pitched, behind-the-scenes battle with prosecutors over three little words that could make or break the company's ongoing Manhattan tax-fraud trial.

The three words are "in behalf of."

The words have permeated the three-week-old trial taking place at New York Supreme Court in lower Manhattan, though the jury has barely heard reference to them.

They are crucial to each of the 15 criminal charges against the Trump Organization — charges alleging that the former president's real-estate and golf-resort company conspired with its own top financial executives in a 15-year tax-dodge scheme.


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Trump Org begins turning prosecution witnesses to their own advantage in 'politically motivated' tax-fraud case

Trump Organization lawyers have begun in earnest their trial strategy of turning prosecution witnesses to their own advantage, on Thursday getting a key DA witness to rail against the "politically motivated" tax-fraud prosecution of Donald Trump's business.

"Did you feel you were being treated unfairly?" by prosecutors, a defense lawyer asked the witness, Jeffrey McConney, the senior vice president in charge of payroll and tax filings for the former president's real-estate and golf-resort empire.


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The Trump Organization tax-fraud trial has resumed

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.Joe Maiorana/AP Photo

The criminal tax-fraud trial of Donald Trump's real-estate and golf-resort empire resumed on Thursday after the prosecution's first witness tested positive for COVID-19 on November 1, temporarily delaying proceedings.

Jeffrey McConney, the Trump Organization's $450,000-a-year controller, is now back on the stand in the Manhattan courtroom.

"I'm glad you're feeling better," the trial judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, told McConney as he took his seat in the witness box.

"I want to take a minute to apologize for the delays. I want to thank all of you for your patience and understanding," the judge told the jury, all of whom made it through sitting a few yards from the controller last week and the week before without apparent illness.

The Trump Organization tax-fraud trial is still on hold

The Trump Organization tax-fraud trial is still on hold in Manhattan while a key prosecution witness continues recovering from COVID-19. Jurors have been told to try back Thursday, according to court personnel.

The sick witness is Jeffrey McConney, who as  the Trump Organization's controller handles its payroll and tax filings.

McConney had coughed his way through a day and a half of testimony when prosecutors noted on Tuesday afternoon that he was only feeling worse as the day wore on. They handed him a rapid test during the lunch break that came back positive.

Trump Org jury sees 1st evidence linking what prosecutors say is Donald Trump's Sharpie to alleged tax-dodge scheme

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.Mary Altaffer/AP

Jurors in the Trump Organization criminal tax-fraud trial have seen the first evidence directly linking Donald Trump to the case, including key documents bearing the former president's distinctive Sharpie-scrawled signatures and initials.

This early prosecution breakthrough came Tuesday in the Manhattan courtroom where Trump's real-estate and golf resort empire — though not Trump himself — is on trial for allegedly helping its executives cheat on their income taxes.

Jurors were shown what the prosecution said and what a witness confirmed were Trump's signatures on some half-dozen important letters and payroll documents. It's evidence meant to soundly refute defense claims that the tax-dodge scheme stopped one rung down from the very top of the company, meaning just short of involving anyone named Trump.

The documents were introduced through the trial's first witness, Jeffrey McConney, who as Trump Organization's controller is responsible for its payroll and tax reporting.


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The Trump Org trial derailed after DA's coughing witness tests positive for COVID-19

A court officer speaks to the media outside of the court room at New York State Supreme Court during the start of jury selection in a case against the Trump Organization
A court officer speaks to the media outside of the court room at New York State Supreme Court during the start of jury selection in a case against the Trump OrganizationSpencer Platt/Getty Images

The Trump Organization tax-fraud trial has been halted for at least the rest of the week after the prosecution's first witness tested positive for COVID-19 during the break.

Jeffrey McConney, the longtime controller for Trump's namesake business, tested positive for the virus after coughing throughout his time on the witness stand on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in New York Supreme Court in lower Manhattan.


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A prosecution witness in the trial is still paid $450,000 a year — by the Trump Organization

Manhattan prosecutors called their first witness in the Trump Organization tax fraud trial on Monday.

Prosecutors immediately explained to jurors that this witness, the company's controller, is not on their team, but on team Trump.

Early on in Jeffrey McConney's testimony, lead prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked him about how much Trump's company still pays him — he answered $450,000 a year — and about how he'd stopped cooperating with prosecutors.

McConney told jurors that he is in fact meeting with the defense, who coached him on his testimony as recently as Sunday, the day before his taking the stand.


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Trump Organization unveils its defense strategy: Keep any of the blame away from Trump

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020.Al Drago/Getty Images

Defense attorneys in the New York criminal tax-fraud trial of former President Donald Trump's international real-estate company unveiled their strategy in the case on Monday — keep all blame off the former president and anyone else with the Trump name.

Trump Organization lawyer Susan Necheles told the jury during opening statements on Monday that the fraud scheme "started with" former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg "and it ended with Allen Weisselberg."


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Trump and his company have cases in 3 NYC courthouses this week — but only 1 could really hurt him

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump's lawyers will be in a New York state of mind this week, when they'll argue on behalf of the former president and his company before state judges in three courthouses within the city limits.

Just one of the three cases could ultimately do Trump severe damage — New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million fraud lawsuit, which seeks to run him, his three eldest children, and his company, the Trump Organization, out of New York state.

Opening statements in that trial will begin on Monday.

Why people who dislike Trump were allowed on the jury for the Trump Organization criminal trial

Trump
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Legacy Sports USA on October 09, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Of the 12 jurors serving in the Trump Organization trial, three openly expressed dislike for the former president.

The fact that two people who expressed negative views of Trump made it onto the jury suggests that Trump's lawyers ran out of peremptory strikes to dismiss these jurors, Lawyers told Insider.

"I absolutely believe that once the jury is picked, the case is over," one lawyer specializing in jury selection told Insider. "You pick the right jury, you're going to win. You don't pay attention to these things ... you're just rolling your dice. You might as well go to the craps table in Vegas. In fact, you probably get better odds there."


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Trump Org prosecutors reveal some of their own witnesses 'won't even talk to us' because they're pro-Trump

At least three prosecution witnesses in the Trump Organization tax-fraud trial are still on the former president's payroll and two have stopped speaking with the Manhattan DA's office entirely, prosecutors have revealed in open court.

In fact, some are meeting instead with lawyers for Trump's company.

"Many of the witnesses still work for the Trump Organization," Lead prosecutors Joshua Steinglass told a panel of prospective alternate jurors on Friday morning.

"Their loyalty lies with that side of the courtroom," he said, pointing toward the defense table.


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The Trump Organization tax-fraud trial jury has been chosen, and it's mostly minority and mostly male.

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.

The twelve jurors for former President Donald Trump's company tax-fraud trial have been chosen.

The list includes four women — one that is white — and eight men — three of whom are white.

Three of the jurors have expressed their dislike for the former president but promised to be unbiased throughout the trial.

Trump is not on trial but his $3 billion real-estate and golf resort empire is.


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A quarter of the Trump Org trial jury openly dislikes Donald Trump

People walk by New York State Supreme Court building
People walk by New York State Supreme Court buildingSpencer Platt/Getty Images

A quarter of the jury that will decide the criminal case against Donald Trump's business empire has openly said they're not fans of the former president.

Of the 12 people serving on the panel, three have expressed their disfavor of Trump during questioning by prosecutors and defense attorneys in the courtroom, but said that they could be fair and impartial as jurors.

One man who would become juror No. 8 called Trump "narcissistic" on Thursday.

"Honestly, I used to think he was funny before he was president," the man said in court of Trump, adding, "Then he started acting a little crazy and narcissistic."

"That's the only reason I didn't like him as president — not so much policy," he said.


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All 12 jurors have been selected for the Trump Organization trial

A dozen jurors have been chosen to serve for the criminal trial of Donald Trump's business empire.

They will determine if the Trump Organization defrauded tax authorities by paying executives some of their compensation off the books, in the form of untaxed perks like free apartments and cars.

Prosecutor: If we excused everyone who dislikes Trump, we wouldn't have a jury

A prosecutor in the New York criminal tax-fraud trial of Donald Trump's international real-estate company said on Thursday that if every prospective juror who disliked the former president was excused from the case then there wouldn't be a jury.

"If we were to strike every juror who had a negative opinion about Donald Trump, we wouldn't be able to get a jury at all," lead prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger, told New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Manuel Merchan on the third day of jury selection in the high-profile Manhattan trial.


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A prospective juror was excused after saying serving on the jury would be unhealthy for him.

Donald Trump waves to the camera
Former President Donald TrumpGetty

The middle-aged man old New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Manuel Merchan on day three of jury selection in the Manhattan trial that he had "strong feelings" about Trump that "turned into a very visceral feeling in my gut" overnight.

The man said he had not had feelings like that about the Republican businessman-turned-politician in the two years since Trump was president.

"I don't feel like it's a very healthy thing for me to be here," the man told Merchan before he was ultimately excused.


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The Trump Organization tax-fraud jury has 7 jurors so far — and 2 openly dislike how he ran the country

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.

The Manhattan jury that will decide whether former President Donald Trump's international real-estate company is guilty of tax fraud includes two women who said in court that they didn't like how the former president ran the country.

The first seven jurors were selected Tuesday in the state Supreme Court case, which alleges that the Trump Organization ran a 15-year scheme to help top executives cheat on their taxes.


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7 jurors have been selected as of Tuesday afternoon

As of Tuesday afternoon, seven people — four women and three men — have been selected to serve on the jury that will decide if Trump's business empire broke the law.

Lawyers have been questioning jurors all morning, with many of them saying they disliked former President Donald Trump.

When asked by lawyers who had strongly held beliefs about Trump, about a dozen people out of the 18 prospective jurors raised their hands.

Lawyers at the trial of Donald Trump's business are having a hard time finding Manhattan jurors who don't dislike him

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020.Al Drago/Getty Images

Jury selection in the New York criminal tax-fraud trial of Donald Trump's real-estate and golf-resort empire is already proving to be an uphill battle with potential jurors on Tuesday openly sharing their disdain for the former Republican president.

About 11 of the 18 prospective jurors questioned Tuesday by lawyers in the high-profile trial playing out in New York Supreme Court in lower Manhattan said they have strong feelings against Trump.

One called Trump a "criminal" who did "irreparable harm." That man was dismissed and will not serve on the jury.


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See the 32 questions prospective jurors for the Trump Organization criminal trial are being asked

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File

Prospective jurors in the New York criminal tax-fraud trial of Donald Trump's real-estate and golf-resort empire are being questioned on Tuesday by lawyers from each side.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are using a questionnaire made up of 32 questions, including ones about what the potential jurors do for a living, whether they watch the news, and if they have "strong opinions" or "firmly held beliefs" about Trump, the former president.


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Some potential jurors gasped in court as a judge revealed they might serve on the Trump Org criminal trial

Donald Trump speaking at rally
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America rally Friday, July 22, 2022, in Prescott, Ariz.Ross D. Franklin/AP

Some potential jurors in the criminal tax-fraud trial of Donald Trump's real-estate and golf-resort empire gasped in a Manhattan court on Monday when they learned they might serve in a case surrounding the former president's business.

The jury that is ultimately chosen in the high-profile trial will determine if the Trump Organization defrauded tax authorities .

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A prospective juror excused from Trump Organization tax evasion trial said 'there is no chance in hell' she could have been impartial

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.Mary Altaffer/AP

A New York advertising executive who was excused from the potential jury pool in the criminal tax-fraud trial of Donald Trump's real-estate and golf-resort empire on Monday said that "there is no chance in hell" she could be impartial about anything to do with the former Republican president.

"He's guilty in my mind whatever the case is — anything he does, anything his corporation does," the 34-year-old Manhattan woman who would only identify herself as Adrienne told reporters in reference to Trump as she was on her way out of New York Supreme Court in lower Manhattan.

The woman, who lives in the Midtown East neighborhood, made the remarks as jury selection was underway in the tax evasion trial of Trump's business, the Trump Organization.

Even though Trump himself is not on trial in the high-profile case, Adrienne said there was "no way" she could be impartial.


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Jury selection for the Trump Organization trial started with a warning: Brace for a long trial

Donald Trump
Donald Trump at a rally in Minden, Nevada, on October 8, 2022. Newly released footage shows Trump complaining about his popularity with American Jews.José Luis Villegas/AP

Jury selection began in the criminal tax-fraud trial of former President Donald Trump's business, the Trump Organization, on Monday morning.

Some 130 prospective jurors were crammed into a downtown Manhattan courtroom on Monday for the initial culling of the pool based on whether they can be impartial and serve on a trial that could last until the brink of the holidays.

"Some of you are about to be selected for a trial in a criminal case," they were told by New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who swore them in at just after 11 a.m.


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