Michael Cohen has appointed 3 Trump Organization staff who could now face more congressional questions


Interviewed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York, Trump's former attorney and personal fixer pointed to three little-known officials of the Trump Organization, who might be aware of potential crimes.

Cohen replied "yes" when Ocasio-Cortez asked him if he knew that Trump was providing "inflated assets to an insurance company". When asked who knew if Trump had done this, Cohen replied, "Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari."

On Thursday, House Watch Chairman Elijah Cummings told CNN that he and other committees would be inclined to follow up with Cohen's appointed officials.

"All you have to do is follow the transcript – there were names that were mentioned or documents that were mentioned during the hearing," said the Democrat of Maryland. "They have a good chance of hearing from us."

An attorney from the Trump organization declined to comment.

Weisselberg: the man who "knows every transaction"

Weisselberg, at least one of these officials, has already been involved in an investigation by the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York. Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information on Cohen's role in paying hidden sums to women alleging business with Trump. The president denied the business.

Cohen has since pled guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, misrepresentation to a bank and violations of campaign financing. In addition, as part of the investigation led by special advocate Robert Mueller in Russia, Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress.

But Weisselberg 's limited co – operation and immunity agreement may not save him from further Congressional or prosecutorial investigations on other issues involving the government. Trump organization.

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Member of the Trump family, Mr. Weisselberg started as an accountant under the patriarch Fred Trump before becoming quietly financial director and close confidant of Trumps. He is one of only two people appointed as trustees of the Trump organization and the only member who is not part of the family. He was also treasurer of Trump's charity and even helped to prepare Trump's personal tax returns.

Trump publicly praised Weisselberg. "He's been with me for thirty years and is in control of everything, which is not easy work, he's very good at managing things," wrote Trump in his 2004 book, "How to Get Rich".

On Wednesday, in his testimony, Mr. Cohen stated that Weisselberg had played a key role in determining the repayment of the $ 130,000 paid to Cohen as a secret payment to actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy. Daniels.

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"I obviously wanted money at one time, I would have preferred it that way, but to be able to put it in the books, Allen Weisselberg decided to pay it in the next 12 months for this to happen. looks like a warrant, "said Cohen.

Weisselberg was also aware of Trump's alleged efforts to inflate his assets and income for insurance purposes and to undervalue his assets in order to avoid paying taxes.

Cohen also claimed that Weisselberg would have been informed of all other agreements Trump had with David Pecker, the head of the company that publishes the National Enquirer newspaper, to "capture and kill" unflattering stories.
A former employee of the Trump Organization had previously told CNN that Weisselberg "knew where all the financial organizations are buried", although the source makes no specific allegations about the finances of the Trump Organization.

"Allen knows every transaction, he knows every dealership, he knows every sale, everything that has been done," said the person.

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Weisselberg has been described to CNN as the number two commander of the Trump Organization, someone who oversees every dollar spent by the company.

Although he holds a high position in the Trump Organization and maintains close ties with the Trumps, Weisselberg prefers a low profile – a stark contrast to his boss.

His former colleagues told The Wall Street Journal in 2016 that he was calm, that he preferred to eat salads and tuna sandwiches in the dining room and that he was married to the same woman for 46 years. "It fits in the wallpaper," said a person in the newspaper.

Despite his low profile, Weisselberg is not afraid to take the example of the boss and play hardball.

In a case described by the New York Times, a law firm seeking outstanding invoices from the Trump Organization had accidentally included documents from another client. Weisselberg was quick to pounce, threatening to report his mistake to the other customer, unless the firm offers a 50% discount on overdue bills. The problem has finally been solved, but it reveals that Brooklyn's discreet accountant has not hesitated to use hand-to-hand tactics.

Calamari: the man who went from security guard to chief of operations

Cohen pointed to two other little-known employees of the Trump organization when he was asked to name other people who would have known that Trump was overvaluing his assets for insurance purposes. One of the men identified by Cohen was the company's chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari.

Trump discovered Calamari at the US Open Tennis Tournament in 1981, after the businessman had liked the way Calamari treated rowdy players during a match. Trump has hired him, without maintenance, to help with security.

Calamari made his debut, essentially, as a security guard. But he rose through the ranks to become safety director and came closer to Trump during a move to bodyguard. Finally, Calamari was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

"After meeting Matthew, I realized that he had a lot more to offer than the title of his job does, and he proved that I was right," writes Trump in "How to Get Rich".

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Barbara Res, a former leader of the Trump Organization, said that she had telephoned for the first time Calamari – under the leadership of Trump – to propose him the position of security officer.

"He's in a great position given his qualifications and experience," Res told CNN. "When I left, he was the bodyguard.When I heard that he was the COO, I had to pull myself off the ground."

While he was employed by the Trump organization as chief security officer and then chief operating officer, Calamari was accused of questionable force and lax security policies. A 1990 lawsuit alleges that Calamari pushed and threatened a 12-year-old boy and his mother – while other members of the security forces held them against their will – after the woman's husband, an employee of Trump Organization, had promised to make public allegations prejudicial to society, according to a report by BuzzFeed.

In response to BuzzFeed's report on the incident, a spokesman for the Trump organization said: "The allegations, dating back more than 20 years, are completely inaccurate, ridiculous and totally false".

Calamari was also named in a Politico article in 2017 reporting that the campaign's private security force – which he often relied on for campaign events – lacked concrete procedures, leaving journalists and demonstrators free security in the manner that he deems appropriate. The history of Politico quoted a testimony of Calamari, responsible for hiring and supervising security forces, in which he acknowledged that the Trump operation had not produced any document on security procedures for decades.

Calamari had a brief overview of the scene during the NBC live finale of "The Apprentice" in 2004. He stood up to say a few words about the competitors, but after two stuttering and confessing "We are not doing too well, are we," he finally sits down.

The clip has attracted a new wave of attention since Cohen's public testimony on Wednesday.

Lieberman: the man behind the Bronx golf course

Cohen claimed that a third Trump organization leader, Ron Lieberman, was aware of Trump's alleged efforts to overstate his assets for insurance purposes.

Lieberman is a relatively new employee of the Trump Organization, but has been closely involved with the company for years. Lieberman worked for the Parks and Recreation Department of New York City until 2007, when he was hired by the Trump organization as Executive Vice President in charge of Management. and development.

He works closely with Weisselberg on financial matters, including on insurance matters, according to a person familiar with the company's business.

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Lieberman helped the Trump organization win prestigious contracts with the city, including Central Park Carousel and the Bronx Ferry Point Golf Course.

The deal that Lieberman had negotiated between the city and the Trump organization under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the Ferry Point golf course was particularly enjoyable. The financial benefits he helped secure the Trump organization from his former employer included decades of revenue-sharing with the city, free water and no concession rights for the first four years, according to a report from New York Daily News.
Ocasio-Cortez drew attention to the Ferry Point deal when she interviewed Cohen at Wednesday's hearing. She highlighted a 2016 Washington Post report, noting that taxpayers in New York City spent $ 127 million to build the Trump Golf Course, but that Trump was allowed to keep almost the same amount of money. total proceeds from the sale.

"And that does not seem to be the only time the president has benefited at the public's expense," Ocasio-Cortez said.

Manu Raju and Cristina Alesci from CNN contributed to this report.

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