Trump Organization Jury Is Considering a Momentous Decision
The 12 jurors who will decide whether Donald J. Trump’s company is guilty of felonies related to a tax fraud that its executives engaged in began deliberating shortly before noon Monday and will continue Tuesday.
They have returned to the courtroom only once, to hear the judge repeat his specific instructions on one of the 17 counts the Trump Organization faces. Otherwise, they have been meeting in private, leaving the 15th-floor courtroom at State Supreme Court in Manhattan in a mood of anticipation that hardly dulled as the day wore on.
They are weighing whether the actions of the executives, in particular the longtime chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg — who has already pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the same conduct — implicate the company itself.
As the judge explained directly to the jury for the first time on Monday, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office must have successfully proven that Mr. Weisselberg intended in some measure to help the company when he was compensated in perks like an apartment rental, luxury cars and free cable, which allowed him to avoid paying his full tax burden.
Their momentous decision is now being awaited by the trial lawyers, who spent five weeks vociferously arguing the case, frequently interrupting each other with objections or asking the judge to weigh in on a particularly heated legal dispute.
The stakes are high for several players in the legal drama:
Mr. Trump, who has referred to the investigation that led to the charges as a “witch hunt,” will find out whether the company that served as his launching pad to the presidency will be branded as a felon. (Mr. Trump was not implicated in the tax scheme though in their closing arguments, the prosecution asserted that he had “sanctioned” tax fraud.)
The jurors will also have the power to shape the early tenure of the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg. The trial has marked the highest-profile proceeding of Mr. Bragg’s tenure so far, and a guilty verdict would stand out as a high point, while an acquittal would be an embarrassing blow.
Mr. Weisselberg himself will either see his testimony convict the company that he spent most of his adult life working at, or his account could deliver a loss to the prosecutors — who could then still investigate him for other crimes or, if they decide that he did not stick to the conditions of his plea deal, request that he serve more time behind bars for the ones to which he has already pleaded guilty.