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Trump executive’s son was given sizable salary, generous perks, documents show

Jennifer Weisselberg, former daughter-in-law of a Trump Organization officer, delivered evidence to investigators outside her New York apartment on April 8. (Video: Shayna Jacobs/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — Former president Donald Trump's company paid a skating rink manager more than $200,000 in annual salary, $40,000 yearly bonuses and provided free company-owned apartments for his family, according to testimony of the employee, Barry Weisselberg, and his financial documents.

Such payments and perks, as well as other financial support provided to Weisselberg and his family, have drawn new scrutiny from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) as a potentially key component of his ongoing criminal investigation into the former president's business activity and finances.

Barry Weisselberg is the son of Trump's longtime confidant and chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, whose cooperation prosecutors are maneuvering to secure, a person familiar with the investigation said, as they evaluate whether there is sufficient evidence to charge Trump, or members of his family or inner circle. Like others, this person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Although authorities have not accused Trump, Allen Weisselberg or his son of wrongdoing, investigators could use any legal vulnerability involving Barry Weisselberg to pressure his father into turning against the former president.

An attorney for Barry Weisselberg did not respond to a request for comment. Allen Weisselberg's attorney declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the district attorney's office. Trump has dismissed the investigation as politically motivated.

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On Thursday, Barry Weisselberg's ex-wife, Jennifer Weisselberg, provided documents and a laptop to Vance's office in response to a grand jury subpoena requiring her to produce all of the records she possessed for her ex-husband's bank accounts and credit cards plus his statements of net worth and tax filings.

Those records were entered into the couple's divorce proceedings, which began in 2017, and some were obtained by The Washington Post this week along with a transcript of the deposition Barry Weisselberg gave as a part of that legal process. The documents show an array of payments and perks that Barry Weisselberg and his family received as a result of his employment for Trump's company over 18 years, likely raising key questions for investigators analyzing the finances of the cash-only skating rink and working to ascertain whether the proper taxes were paid.

Barry Weisselberg was in his 20s when he joined the Trump Organization, first to work on the Miss Universe pageant for a year and then to manage Wollman Rink, which the company operated under a contract with the city from 1986 until earlier this year.

For his work as a manager at the rink, which operates from October through April, Barry Weisselberg said during his divorce proceedings that he had been paid an annual salary of over $200,000 for "as long as he could remember," according to the transcript.

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In the deposition, Weisselberg acknowledged making errors in explaining information about his finances. He said, for instance, that he had forgotten that he shared an investment account with his father and he misstated his salary, prompting interjections from his attorneys when repeatedly confronted with contradictory information, the transcript shows.

He could not answer some questions about his taxes, the transcript shows. When asked whether taxes had been paid on the corporate apartment where his family previously lived, he said he wasn't sure. Asked how the company determined the size of his bonuses, which tallied about $40,000 annually from 2015 to 2017, he said he had "no idea."

When pressed in the deposition to explain discrepancies between what he said he earned and what he reported on tax forms for the Internal Revenue Service, he said: "I'm not an accountant. I know what I make. I'm not too sure of certain things."

The August 2018 deposition and related financial documents also show that Allen Weisselberg, 73, provided expansive financial support to his son, 45.

Despite the six-figure compensation he received for his work at the rink, Barry Weisselberg conceded in his divorce testimony that his living expenses were mostly covered by his father. While they were married, Barry and Jennifer Weisselberg lived rent-free for several years in two Trump-owned apartments in Manhattan, including one on Central Park South, an upscale neighborhood where rents are among the highest in the city. He said in his deposition that he was unsure how taxes on the property were handled.

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At the time of the deposition, Allen Weisselberg paid for a variety of his son’s other expenses, the documents show, including $7,900 in monthly rent for a non-Trump-owned apartment where the couple later lived, $546 a month for a leased Range Rover Velar SUV, $49,000 annually for each of his children to attend private school, $25,000 each for their sleep-away camp and $2,200 for his daughter’s Hebrew school.

His father charged the couple’s dental care to his account as well as the retainer fee to the law firm handling their divorce, according to the transcript of his testimony. Barry Weisselberg told the attorneys conducting the deposition that he did not know whether his father had been billed beyond that and whether the bills had been paid, noting he did not consider the support from his father to be gifts but rather “financial assistance.”

The deposition also provides some insight into Trump’s direct role in Barry Weisselberg’s compensation. He said that before being elected president, Trump had been the one to decide his salary, along with his father. When asked whether he thought that Trump personally was helping to pay for some of his expenses, he responded, “I don’t know.”

Barry Weisselberg testified in the deposition that while receiving financial help from his father he had amassed a collection of between 150 and 175 pairs of sneakers. The company facilitated this hobby as well, since he bought the shoes at a Nike store that had been a tenant of the Trump Organization until the store relocated. That allowed him a discount, Barry Weisselberg explained. “I wasn’t paying full price for sneakers,” he said, according to the transcript.

Barry and Jennifer Weisselberg, 49, were married from 2004 to 2018. She has previously said that she had seven boxes of financial records from her ex-husband and his father, some of which were obtained through the divorce litigation. She turned over three boxes and the laptop this week and indicated she may be in possession of other information relevant to the investigation.

The district attorney’s subpoena, a copy of which also was obtained by The Post, ordered her to produce all of the records she possesses for her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. It asks specifically for records related to the Trump Organization and the skating rink.

Vance’s inquiry is focused on whether the values of certain properties in the Trump Organization’s portfolio were manipulated to gain tax advantages or favorable loans and insurance rates under false pretenses. It is one of three known criminal probes focused on the former president.

Another was opened in Atlanta, where the Fulton County district attorney is investigating Trump’s controversial conversations with Georgia state officials amid his failed bid to subvert the election results there. The D.C. attorney general’s office is scrutinizing Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters assaulted the U.S. Capitol in a deadly bid to prevent Congress from tallying the electoral-college results.

O’Connell and Fahrenthold reported from Washington.