Prosecutions on hold as Trump company trial moves faster than expected

According to the judge presiding over the case, Juan Merchan, prosecutors must show that Mr. Weisselberg acted for interests other than his own – that he sought to benefit the company, whether he succeeded or not. Depending on how Judge Merchan explains this concept to the jury and how thoroughly the jurors analyze his instructions, one or more of them could conclude that Mr. Weisselberg acted only for himself, leading to an acquittal. or to a suspended jury.

Defense attorneys sought to point out that Mazars USA was responsible for failing to alert the Trump Organization to the illegality of the scheme. They seem to believe that some jurors can be convinced that the Trump Organization was not guilty and that the responsibility lies solely with Mr. Weisselberg, Mr. McConney, the comptroller – who is immune from prosecution after testifying before the grand jury – and Mr. Bender.

On Monday, they questioned Mr. Bender about his relationship with the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump and employees, including Mr. Weisselberg and the company’s comptroller, Mr. McConney. Mr. Bender testified to a relatively close relationship with the company, by far its biggest customer, saying he attended Mr. Trump’s wedding and the wedding of Mr. Weisselberg’s son.

They were close enough that Mr. Bender felt comfortable blowing off steam with a heated email exchange that included Mr. Weisselberg. It was triggered when Mr Bender sent a blank email with the subject line “ALLEN CAUSING ME GRIEF”.

When Mr. Weisselberg responded, saying his questions about the company’s invoices were “nothing personal, just business”, Mr. Bender fired back in all caps: “I KNOW IT’S NOT PERSONAL BUT I AM THE BEST INVESTMENT YOU HAVE.”

The defense asked Mr. Bender to testify about a document that showed him calculating two different scenarios that would determine how much money Mr. Weisselberg earned and how much tax he paid. One took into account part of the scheme in which executives declared part of their compensation as if they were independent contractors; in this scenario, Mr. Weisselberg brought in more money and paid less tax. The document appeared to suggest that Mr. Bender was aware of this part of the scheme.

On Friday, Mr. Weisselberg had testified that Mr. Bender had never told him that he was committing a crime by filing his tax returns without declaring the benefits he had received. He said that if he had been told that certain practices were illegal, he would not have practiced them.

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