Former President Trump came out swinging against the New York prosecutors who brought criminal charges against his organization, comparing the situation to a “communist dictatorship targeting political opponents” over the weekend.
Speaking at a Fourth of July-themed rally Saturday night in Sarasota, Fla., which began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Surfside condo collapse, the 45th commander-in-chief railed against the tax fraud and conspiracy charges filed Thursday against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial adviser, by Manhattan DA Cy Vance.
“It’s really called prosecutorial misconduct. It’s a terrible, terrible thing,” Trump told the crowd gathered at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds, “They’ve mobilized every power of government to come after me, my family, my wonderful employees and my company solely because of politics.”
“You didn’t pay tax on the car, or the company apartment,” he added, getting specific on the charges, “Or education for your grandchildren. I don’t even know, do you have to put, does anyone know the answer to that stuff?”
“They indict people for that, but murder and selling massive amount of the worst drugs in the world that kill people left and right, and that’s alright?” the former president then asked.
The rally, Trump’s second since leaving office in January, came three days after Weisselberg and lawyers for the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. each pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors charged the company and Weisselberg engaged in a 15-year tax fraud scheme to pay the CFO — a longtime Trump loyalist — and other executives at the company in “manner that was ‘off the books,’” according to an indictment unsealed soon after the court appearance.
“The beneficiaries of the scheme received substantial portions of their income through indirect and disguised means, with compensation that was unreported or misreported by the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp,” the indictment states.
They also charged Weisselberg received “indirect compensation” of more than $1.7 million during the 15 years.
He allegedly accepted a number of gifts from the organization, including free rent at a Manhattan apartment, luxury cars and private school tuition for his family members — but failed to pay taxes on the bonuses.
The longtime Trump Organization CFO was ordered to surrender his passport after prosecutors called him a flight risk with access to private jets for foreign travel.
He was released without bail, however, and left the courthouse without commenting to assembled reporters.
The indictment against the longtime Trump confidante are the first charges related to Trump or his company brought by Vance , who, along with New York Attorney General Letitia James, have been investigating Trump’s business empire for more than two years.
Vance, who leaves office at the end of the year, has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into a variety of matters involving Trump and the Trump Organization for more than three years.
Both prosecutors, who are Democrats, watched from the gallery as Weisselberg appeared in the 11th-floor courtroom at 100 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.
Trump’s comments at his Florida rally were not his first on the charges. The former president released two statements lambasting the prosecutors in the hours after the charges were filed.
“The political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Democrats, with New York now taking over the assignment, continues. It is dividing our Country like never before,” he remarked in the first.
“Do people see the Radical Left prosecutors, and what they are trying to do to 75M+++ Voters and Patriots, for what it is?” he asked in the second.