Trump’s company conducted internal tax review after he became president, executive says

A longtime Trump attorney oversaw an internal probe into the Trump Organization’s tax practices in 2017 and 2018, leading the company “to do things differently,” an executive said Tuesday.

The revelation came in the middle of the second day of Sworn testimony of Trump Organization Comptroller Jeffrey McConneywho was the first witness called by the government in the company’s criminal case in New York trial for fraud.

McConney said the investigation was being led by Sheri Dillon, a lawyer known for a January 2017 press conference held by then-President-elect Donald Trump, in which she and Trump displayed stacks of papers they claimed were related to his businesses’ taxes.

Donald Trump holds a press conference in 2017
Stacks of papers and files are displayed as President-elect Donald Trump gives a press conference on January 11, 2017 in New York City.


In 2021, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and company, through two corporations – the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation – with over a dozen counts related to allegations that some executives received untaxed services. “indirect compensation of employees.” Weisselberg pleaded guilty in the case in August. The company maintains its innocence of all charges.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger said in her opening statement on Monday that corporate executives have been dodging taxes for years, “but evidence will show that when Donald Trump was elected president in late 2016, these companies ultimately had to clean up these fraudulent tax practices.”

McConney said on Tuesday that Dillon — a tax lawyer with law firm Morgan Lewis who has worked for more than a decade on matters related to the Trump Organization — was recruited after Trump left the firm in 2017 to assume the presidency.

A prosecutor asked if Dillon “basically asked you to clean things up at the Trump Organization?”

“She did,” McConney replied.

He said the investigation culminated in a memo, which was completed in late 2017 or early 2018.

“I was asked to do things differently,” McConney said.

Dillon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

As McConney began to describe the memo, attorneys for the Trump Organization objected, citing attorney-client privilege, and the judge called a box. Discussion of the note was then limited.

Prosecutors say company executives have used various methods to “hide” luxury benefits from tax authorities since at least 2005.

Lawyers for the company said in their opening statements Monday that it was Weisselberg alone who was hiding that he was not paying taxes on the benefits.

Weisselberg is expected to be called as a witness at trial. Weisselberg pleaded guilty in the case in August and agreed to testify as part of his plea arrangement. He will be sentenced at the end of the trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks.

McConney said Monday that his personal attorney is paid by the Trump Organization and that he met with the company’s criminal defense attorneys on Sunday, among other occasions.

A request by prosecutors to treat him as a hostile witness was denied by Judge Juan Merchan.


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