On Tuesday, December 6, a Manhattan jury found two companies under the Trump Organization umbrella, The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., guilty of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. Former President Donald Trump and his children Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump were not defendants in the case, which was prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. This was strictly a case against the Trump Organization itself.
In a separate case, the Manhattan DA's office prosecuted Allen Weisselberg, long-time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, for financial crimes. And Weisselberg entered a "guilty" plea in August, agreeing to pay $1.9 million in back taxes along with interest and penalties. Donald Trump wasn't a defendant in that case either.
Following the December 6 verdict, one of the jurors in the Trump Organization case granted an interview to the Daily Beast. The juror did so on condition of anonymity, fearing possible retaliation from MAGA Republicans and Donald Trump loyalists.
In an article published on December 14, the Daily Beast's Jose Pagliery explains, "The juror, whose identity we have confirmed, asked to remain anonymous to avoid threats from angry MAGA loyalists. This person carefully detailed the way the 12 jurors examined the evidence, wrestled over the various criminal charges, and reacted to the lawyers' presentations during the two days of deliberations in a room at the Manhattan criminal courthouse."
The trial, Pagliery notes, took six weeks.
The juror told the Beast, "I constantly fought my knee-jerk belief that, of course, anything with the name Trump on it is crooked. I shocked myself in mid-November when I realized that I wasn't sure I could find the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation guilty. We talked in the jury room about having to put on blinders and look just at these two companies. One of the guys started calling Trump 'Joe Smith.' From there on, we referred to 'Mr. Smith's company.'"
The juror recalled that during the deliberations, one of the other jurors commented, "Do you want the potholes fixed sooner? That's where this money comes from."
Similarly, the juror told the Beast, "The total Medicare tax they dodged was maybe $25,000. We were supposed to consider (it) pittance. It might be a pittance for you, but it wasn't a pittance for any of us. I want my Medicare funded."
The juror also told the Beast, "I was very clear, as was every juror, that DJT was not a party to this lawsuit. But I couldn't help but remember the 2016 debate with (Hillary) Clinton when she showed he hadn't paid federal taxes and he proudly remarked that was because he was 'smart.' That was his opinion of taxes, and this was his company. Taxpayers are losers in Trumpland."
The jurors, according to the interviewee, disliked the way Trump Organization lawyer Michael van der Veen, during the trial, mocked one of the witnesses: Donald Bender of the firm Mazars USA. The juror interviewed by the Beast recalled, "Michael van der Veen did nothing to help himself by imitating Donald Bender's voice and speech impediment…. impugning his manhood because the guy spoke with a high voice. People really, really didn't like that."
One of the jurors, during deliberations, described van der Veen's attack on Bender's voice as "small-minded and unnecessary."
Pagliery notes that "nothing seemed to piss off jurors more than the way the company enriched its executives by paying them part of their salary as 'independent contractors,' which allowed several of them — even ones who weren't indicted — to dodge even more taxes."
The juror interviewed by the Beast recalled, "Everybody was disgusted to some degree that they were making good salaries and yet, they still had to get more."
The juror predicts that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Jr. will eventually indict Donald Trump but believes that Bragg is taking it slow and being extra cautious.
"You've gotta know you're gonna win," the juror told the Beast. "You can't waste the money. You can't take Trump to court and lose because then, he's not 'not guilty.' He's 'innocent.' That's how he'd interpret it."