Trump CFO Weisselberg emerges as key person of interest for Dems

The spotlight is shining brightly on the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer following explosive testimony this week from Michael Cohen, who repeatedly pointed to Allen Weisselberg as someone who could tell Congress all it wants to know about the president’s business.

Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, told lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday that Weisselberg would be able to support allegations that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTelevised impeachment begins: Are Democrats ready for their close-up? Trump goes on retweeting offensive ahead of public impeachment hearing North Korea issues warning over US-South Korea drills MORE knew about hush money payments made to women alleging affairs with Trump, and that he could provide details on the president’s potentially illegal tax practices.

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Weisselberg reportedly has an immunity deal with federal prosecutors in New York, who Cohen said Wednesday are investigating other alleged illegal acts involving Trump. If he appeared before Congress — and several Democrats are signaling they want him to — it could give lawmakers an opening to learn what those prosecutors have already found out.

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings's widow, will run for his House seat Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (D-Md.), Oversight’s chairman, said the committee will “probably” call in Weisselberg.

And he told reporters on Thursday that any individuals that came up during the hearing “multiple times” were likely to be called in to appear before the panel, or to at least meet with congressional investigators.

The House Intelligence Committee will also request that Weisselberg meet with the panel, a Democratic committee aide confirmed to The Hill Thursday. 

Mary Mulligan, an attorney representing Weisselberg, declined to comment to The Hill about Cohen’s testimony or whether her client would be willing to speak with lawmakers.

The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment from The Hill about Weisselberg’s role with the company or Cohen’s testimony. The White House declined to comment.

Cohen, who worked for a decade as Trump’s personal lawyer, on Wednesday rattled off the names of several individuals in addition to Weisselberg who he said had additional knowledge of the president’s alleged transgressions: Trump Organization executive vice presidents Matthew Calamari and Ron Lieberman, and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr. visit to 'The View' boosts ratings to highest in six months Sean Spicer eliminated from 'Dancing with the Stars' Trump Jr.: How can Dems beat Trump if they can't boot Sean Spicer from DWTS? MORE, among others.

But Cohen identified Weisselberg, the Trump Organization CFO and former treasurer of the Trump Organization whose work with the family dates back decades, as the real key player.

Cohen, who is facing a three-year prison sentence, identified Weisselberg’s signature on a check he said he received as reimbursement for a hush money payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with the president.

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He later told Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez calls for Stephen Miller to resign over leaked emails Ocasio-Cortez meets Sasha Velour following DC performance Sanders 'very concerned about what appears to be a coup' in Bolivia MORE (D-N.Y.) that Weisselberg knew Trump had inflated his assets to an insurance company, and would be familiar with the family’s tax practices.

Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday said that after Cohen’s hearing, she thinks Weisselberg is “absolutely a good candidate to consider bringing in.”

And she’s far from alone.

“I'd put him in the category of relevant witnesses,” House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDemocrats sharpen their message on impeachment Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Republicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDemocrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Bolton lawyers in contact with impeachment committee members: reports Democrats see John Bolton as potential star witness MORE (D-Vt.) also indicated during a break in Wednesday’s hearing that he would be interested in hearing from Weisselberg.

Fellow panel member Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiSondland emerges as key target after Vindman testimony Ex-Trump official's refusal to testify escalates impeachment tensions Five takeaways from US envoy's explosive testimony MORE (D-Ill.) said Thursday that he thinks Weisselberg “should be one of those people that we focus on because it’s kind of interesting that he keeps coming up.”

“And he has access to the financial records,” he said. “Those financial statements looked so fishy to me yesterday that [Cohen] presented, so [Weisselberg] would be able to shed light on that.”

Krishnamoorthi also said that it’s possible that Weisselberg could help to shed light on exactly what federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating, if the executive does have an immunity agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office.

That federal investigation could pose some logistical hurdles for congressional inquiries: Lawmakers would have to work with the Manhattan office to determine any potential conflicts that could be raised by a House investigation.

Cummings said Thursday that he had “no clue” if Weisselberg had an immunity deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Republicans are already speaking out against any move to ask Weisselberg to testify.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine House Republicans prepare for public impeachment proceedings with mock hearing Live updates on impeachment: Schiff fires warning at GOP over whistleblower MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that Democrats’ desire to question Weisselberg and Trump Jr. was “purely political” and reflected the party’s goal to “try to impeach the president.”

Democrats avoided impeachment talk during Cohen’s testimony, and party members were split on whether the hearing moved Congress closer to such proceedings.

If he appeared before Congress, Weisselberg would likely serve as both a treasure trove of information for investigators and a thorn in the side of a president fiercely protective of his private business dealings.

The executive has worked for the Trump family business for decades, first for Trump’s father before rising through the ranks of the business in its current form.

Barbara Res, who worked on and off at the Trump Organization for 18 years, said during a CNN appearance Thursday that Weisselberg “was not in the inner circle” when he joined the family’s business a few decades ago.

“But it looks like that changed,” she added.

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said federal prosecutors have likely already gathered information on much of what Cohen alleged to Congress, in part because of the reported immunity deal with Weisselberg.

Cohen’s claims could give Congress the opportunity to follow up with individuals like Weisselberg and press them on Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents, McQuade said.

She added that Cohen’s allegations against Trump could constitute conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws or bank fraud, which “could be a basis for considering impeachment” or possible criminal charges when the president leaves office.

“I do think Allen Weisselberg is a really key witness,” McQuade said. “He’s someone who has more credibility than Michael Cohen, and someone who likely knows more about the Trump Organization than Michael Cohen.”