Who’s who in New York criminal probe into Trump

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Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida February 28, 2021. — Reuters pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida February 28, 2021. — Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, May 20 — A Democratic prosecutor nearing the end of his term, a loyal lieutenant of the Trump family and a lawyer determined to sink his former boss: AFP details some of the players in New York’s criminal probe into Donald Trump.

Cyrus Vance 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr leaves a hearing in US President Donald Trump’s tax case in the Manhattan borough of New York City, October 23, 2019. — Reuters pic
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr leaves a hearing in US President Donald Trump’s tax case in the Manhattan borough of New York City, October 23, 2019. — Reuters pic

The 66-year-old Democrat has been Manhattan District Attorney since 2010. He was the first to launch a criminal investigation into the Republican ex-president. 

Vance, whose father was US Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter, has sometimes been accused of a reluctance to prosecute the rich and powerful.

He delayed filing charges against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein before securing a landmark conviction last year.

Vance has doggedly pursued Trump, though, first by winning a years-long battle to obtain his tax records and secondly by deploying significant human and financial resources to the politically sensitive investigation.

He has announced that he will not run for a fourth term when his current one expires in December, and many observers expect him to go out with a bang by filing what would be the first indictment against a former US president.

Letitia James

New York State Attorney General Letitia James November 19, 2019. — Reuters pic
New York State Attorney General Letitia James November 19, 2019. — Reuters pic

The Democrat became the first Black woman to become New York state attorney general in 2018. 

Since then, the 62-year-old has forged a reputation as a combative and independent prosecutor, filing countless civil actions against large companies, particularly tech giants, and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

When Trump was in the White House, James launched dozens of civil actions against his government. 

She is also investigating New York’s powerful Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, over sexual harassment allegations and his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

James has been cited as a possible successor to Cuomo, particularly if her investigation forces him to resign. 

Allen Weisselberg

The 73-year-old is the Trump Organization’s long-serving chief financial officer and one of the family’s most loyal servants. 

He began as an accountant for Trump’s father’s company before joining the Trump Organization as financial controller in the 1980s when Donald established himself as a Manhattan real estate mogul.

Weisselberg has been around for all of Trump’s entrepreneurial adventures, including when his Atlantic City casinos went bust. 

According to Barbara Res, a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization, Weisselberg “thought Trump was a god,” she told the Daily News

Investigators believe Weisselberg knows all of the Trump family secrets and have been putting pressure on him for months to cooperate with their investigation.

Observers are closely watching whether Weisselberg will turn against his former boss. 

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for US President Donald Trump, arrives back at home after being released from prison during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in New York City, New York, US, May 21, 2020. — Reuters pic
Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for US President Donald Trump, arrives back at home after being released from prison during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in New York City, New York, US, May 21, 2020. — Reuters pic

Trump’s ex-personal lawyer was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws relating to Trump’s 2016 vote win.

Cohen was one of Trump’s closest henchmen for a decade, once proudly boasting that he was prepared to “take a bullet” for the real estate mogul-turned-president.

He turned against his former boss, though, deciding to collaborate with federal investigators in Manhattan.

During a Congressional hearing in February 2019, Cohen alleged — among other things — that Trump regularly undervalued or overvalued his assets, both with banks and insurance companies.

Cohen openly rejoices in Trump’s legal troubles on Twitter and through his podcast “Mea Culpa.” — AFP

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