Donald Trump must be melting down right now.
"New overnight, CNN was the first to report that the New York attorney general's office has opened a criminal tax investigation into the Trump Organization's chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg," John Berman said.
"Now people familiar with the investigation say it was opened a few months ago by the New York attorney general. It comes just after the New York attorney general announced that that office is joining the Manhattan district attorney's office in a criminal probe into the Trump organization."
He discussed the news with CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.
"If prosecutors manage to flip Allen Weisselberg, and they certainly are trying now, he could hold the keys to the kingdom," Honig explained.
"This is a financial case. He's the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. And let me show you why that's so important. For all the gilded towers and Trump Towers, at its heart, the Trump Organization is a small family-run operation. We know who the key players are. Donald Trump, of course, the owner. His sons Don Junior and Eric are executive vice presidents, Ivanka Trump, his daughter, was an executive VP before she went to work for the White House.
"The one person who is not a Trump is Allen Weisselberg. He's the chief financial officer, he's been there for decades. So if they flip him, he can really break this case open. And especially important when we look at what are the potential allegations here? The core of the investigation that we're seeing relate to finances. Did the Trump Organization falsely inflate or deflate the value of some of their real estate holdings, including these four that we see on the board. The theory is, when they applied for a bank loan, they would inflate the value to get bigger bank loans. and when it came tax time, they'd deflate the value so you pay less tax. Think about how Allen Weisselberg, if he flipped, could blow the lid off that."
"What are they looking at specifically in terms of Weisselberg? They're closing in on him or investigating -- we don't know how close they are to anything. they're investigating him for tax reasons," Berman said.
Honig said you need leverage to get someone to flip.
"The idea is he was paid income by the Trump Organization but disguised to pay tuition for his grandchildren. He should have to pay taxes on that. Cy Vance is the Manhattan DA on this case since 2018. It started with the hush money payments. now it's expanded. Letisha James, the state attorney general, announced she is joining the criminal piece of this investigation so they are joining forces and bringing even more resources to bear.
"Prosecutors know more than we do but we know some important things. Michael Cohen has been talking to these prosecutors many, many times. We know that because he likes to tell the public about it. He's been in many times to speak with the DA and the AG. You don't bring in someone as many times as they've brought in Michael Cohen unless you plan to bank on them."
Berman said they need corroboration to anything Michael Cohen says.
"Yes, you certainly do. They deposed Eric Trump. I assume they're seeing whether his testimony lines up with other things. The tax returns. We talk about corroboration. Prosecutors fought all the way to the supreme court. They have Trump's tax returns now. Measure those against Michael Cohen's testimony," Honig said.
He pointed out Weisselberg could face as much as 25 years, and that could certainly be enough to get someone to talk.