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Trump accused of witness tampering in investigative report

Former President Donald Trump

While Donald Trump awaits a July 11 sentencing in New York on his recent felony convictions, a new investigative report by ProPublica has unearthed potential instances of witness tampering by the twice-impeached and four-times criminally indicted former president.

An in-depth exposé by the award-winning news site noted that, despite being convicted on all 34 felony charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, who promised to be a dictator “on day one,” could see his legal woes mount as ProPublica suggested that he was involved in a concerted effort to sway eyewitness testimony in the trial that ended last month with 34 unanimous guilty verdicts.

The report said that nine witnesses embroiled in criminal cases against Trump had received “significant financial benefits,” including substantial pay raises, hefty severance packages, and prestigious positions within his campaign and media empire. The perks, distributed at pivotal junctures during the case, has cast yet another shadow over the integrity of Trump and those who vouched for the MAGA leader.

Neither Trump’s campaign or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg returned messages left by the Black Press seeking comment.

However, ProPublica quoted legal experts who opined that such benefits could potentially constitute evidence of criminal behavior if the intent was to influence witnesses’ statements. Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney,  said there were “grave concerns” over the potential corrupting influence of such action. McQuade also cautioned that it could prove a difficult case to prosecute.

While ProPublica said it did not find direct evidence linking Trump to the pay increases, the site said it’s well-known that he closely monitors his operations and prides himself on being frugal. One former aide likened working for the Trump Organization to “a small family business” where every employee “in some sense reports to Mr. Trump.” Trump’s demand for loyalty from his subordinates is a consistent theme, exemplified by his reaction when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, prompting Trump to angrily question, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” referring to his former fixer.

Journalists on the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism team reported that several notable figures in Trump’s circle have seen significant financial benefits. For instance, Trump campaign adviser Boris Epstein’s pay more than doubled, and Susie Wiles, head of Trump’s campaign, saw payments to her firm spike while her daughter was also hired by the campaign. Trump aide Margo Martin received a roughly 20% raise, and Dan Scavino was appointed to the board of Trump Media. Trump attorneys Jennifer Little and Evan Corcoran saw dramatic increases in payments to their law firms, while Allen Weisselberg, a Trump Organization executive, received a lucrative severance package.

According to ProPublica, witness tampering and efforts to influence testimonies have been recurring themes in Trump-related investigations and criminal cases. In past instances, Trump’s former campaign manager and adviser were convicted on federal witness tampering charges, with the latter advising a witness to lie to investigators. Trump later pardoned both individuals. Additionally, during the congressional investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot, a former White House staffer testified about receiving a call suggesting she stay loyal to Trump in her testimony.

A former Trump employee, who was a key witness in the classified documents investigation, recounted being offered various benefits, including golf tournament tickets and a raise, upon quitting his job. This witness, Brian Butler, declined the offers, but noted the timing of these benefits raised suspicions about their intent.

The issue of financial rewards for witnesses has surfaced in Trump’s New York trials as well. In a civil fraud case, prosecutors questioned a former Trump Organization controller about his $500,000 severance agreement, which he continued to receive during his testimony.

Steve Witkoff, a longtime friend and real estate executive, testified as an expert witness for Trump’s defense and subsequently received over $370,000 from the Trump campaign for air travel expenses. The Trump campaign confirmed using Witkoff’s private jet for multiple trips, citing “availability, space, and convenience” as reasons for the choice.

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