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

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

The revelation came in the middle of the second day sworn testimony by Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConneywho was the first witness called by the government in the New York criminal company fraud trial.

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McConney said the investigation was led by Sheri Dillon, an attorney best known for a January 2017 press conference held by then-President-elect Donald Trump in which he and Trump presented a stack of papers they said were related to his corporate taxes.

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McConney’s testimony was halted later Tuesday after he tested positive for COVID-19. The trial is expected to resume on Monday, November 7.

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

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images


The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2021 charged former Trump Organization financial officer Allen Weisselberg and his company, through two corporate entities – Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation – with more than a dozen criminal counts related to allegations that certain executives were provided without pay. “indirect employee compensation.” Weisselberg entered a guilty plea in the case in August. The company maintains its innocence of all charges.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger said in Monday’s opening statement that the company’s executives have been avoiding taxes for years, “but the evidence will show that when Donald Trump is elected president at the end of 2016, these companies will finally have to clean up these fraudulent tax practices” .

McConney said Tuesday that Dillon — a tax attorney at the Morgan Lewis law firm who has worked for more than a decade on issues related to the Trump Organization — was brought in after Trump left the company in 2017 to assume the presidency.

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

“She is,” McConney replied.

He said the investigation led to the memo, completed in late 2017 or early 2018.

“I was instructed from now on, to do things differently,” McConney said.

Dillon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When McConney began to explain the memo, lawyers for the Trump Organization objected, citing attorney-client privilege, and the judge called a sidebar. The discussion about the memo was then limited.

Prosecutors admitted the company’s executives used various methods to “hide” luxury benefits from tax authorities dating back to at least 2005.

The company’s lawyers said Monday in opening statements that it was Weisselberg himself who hid that he had not paid taxes on the profits.

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

McConney testified Monday that his personal attorney was paid by the Trump Organization, and that he met with the company’s criminal defense attorney on Sunday, among other things.

A request by the prosecution to treat him as a hostile witness was rejected by Judge Juan Merchan.

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