Why the Allen Weisselberg subpoena is so dangerous for Trump

Allen Weisselberg, the man at the financial center of Trump's businesses, presents a new problem for the president.

Allen Weisselberg, a top Trump Organization official, was subpoenaed this week by federal prosecutors working on the Cohen probe. (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Allen Weisselberg, a top Trump Organization official, was subpoenaed this week by federal prosecutors working on the Cohen probe. (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Allen Weisselberg, the man at the financial center of President Trump’s sprawling business operation for the past several decades, has been subpoenaed as a witness in the federal criminal probe into longtime Trump associate Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

According to the Journal, the exact date of the subpoena is currently unknown, so it’s possible Weisselberg may have already testified.

News of the subpoena comes days after a secret audio recording of Cohen speaking with Trump was leaked to the press. In the recording, the two men are overheard discussing a payment to American Media Inc. (AMI), which had purchased former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of an alleged affair she had with Trump years earlier, shortly before the 2016 election. The company — whose CEO, David Pecker, is friends with Trump — never ran the story, allegedly employing a practice known as “catch and kill,” to ensure McDougal never took her story public.

Cohen can be heard in the recording saying he had talked to Weisselberg about the logistics of purchasing McDougal’s story from AMI. “I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with…funding,” Cohen says, adding that he and Weisselberg had discussed what happens “when it comes time for the financing.”


Weisselberg also reportedly arranged the $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who also claims to have had an affair with Trump, in the weeks leading up to the election. Weisselberg has said he didn’t know the payments, which were routed through Cohen and meant to act as hush money, were meant for Daniels.

It’s unclear if prosecutors are interested in that payment or in something more fundamental to Trump’s business or charity, which Weisselberg also spearheaded.

Weisselberg serves as the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, having joined the company after he graduated college in the 1970s. He mostly keeps a low profile: his name does not appear on the Trump Organization’s website, and he has been described as Trump’s “closest business confidant,” and a Trump aide who “fits in with the wallpaper.”

Since Trump’s inauguration, Weisselberg — along with the president’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric — has been responsible for any company decisions, supposedly without any involvement on the part of the president.

He was named a trustee of the neither blind nor independent Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which holds the president’s assets (and from which the president can withdraw money whenever he wishes). Bloomberg reported that Weisselberg also became deeply involved in Trump’s personal finances over the years; among other things, he “paid household bills, made large purchases for Trump, and has communicated with Trump’s outside investment advisers.”


Weisselberg was also the treasurer of the now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation. The charity is being sued by the state of New York for “extensive and persistent violations of state and federal law,” including allegedly using charity funds to support Trump’s presidential campaign. Weisselberg’s name notably showed up in an email Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sent before the Iowa caucuses asking, “Is there any way we can make some disbursements this week while in Iowa? Specifically on Saturday.”

Weisselberg has not been charged with anything, but his involvement with the investigation could open up new avenues for investigators.

The probe is being conducted by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, following a raid on Cohen’s office and residences earlier this year. During that raid, investigators seized scores of documents and papers related to Cohen’s work for the president, including the aforementioned audio recording, which he took without Trump’s knowledge.

The raid itself was instigated following a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction by Trump and his associates. That could spell trouble for the president: even if Trump interferes with the Mueller probe or attempts to have it shut down, the Cohen investigation would proceed, leaving Trump exposed.

“Alan knows everything and anything about all the financials…He knows every dollar that goes in and every dollar that leaves,” a former Trump Organization employee told Washington Post White House bureau chief Philip Rucker on Thursday. “He knows where all the bodies are buried.”


As of yet, the president has not commented on the new development. Spokespersons for the Trump Organization also declined the Journal’s request for comment.