Judge sets Oct. 24 trial date for Trump Organization, Weisselberg

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Judge sets Oct. 24 trial date for Trump Organization, Weisselberg

A New York judge on Friday set an Oct. 24 trial date for the criminal case against the Trump Organization and former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, capping off an especially tumultuous week for former President Donald Trump.

Acting Justice Juan Merchan denied a bid by the real estate company and Weisselberg to dismiss the charges against them, which they had argued were politically motivated. The judge ruled at a hearing in Lower Manhattan that the evidence presented to the grand jury was legally sufficient to support the charges in the indictment, and that the proceedings were properly conducted and their integrity unimpaired. The judge dismissed one count against the company on statute of limitations grounds.

The Trump Organization and former longtime CFO Weisselberg were charged last year with a sweeping 15-year scheme to compensate top executives of former Trump s company off the books and help them avoid paying taxes.

The Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to charges that included tax fraud and falsifying business records, while Weisselberg, 74, pleaded not guilty to grand larceny and tax fraud charges, among others, after prosecutors accused him of personally avoiding taxes on $1.7 million of his income.

Prosecutors say it was an orchestrated scheme to compensate executives off the books to avoid taxes.

Trump and his company claim the charges are the result of a biased investigation led by then Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and now by his successor Alvin Bragg, both Democrats.

Weisselberg's attorney, Nicholas Gravante, said he was looking forward to fighting the charges in court.

There was plenty of time to do it if there was a deal to be reached in this case, Gravante said. My mission is to lead this trial team and win, and that is what I intend to do. The hearing came at the end of a wild week for Trump that began with FBI agents executing a search warrant at Trump's Florida resort. The agents were looking for sensitive documents that Trump allegedly took from the White House in January 2021, according to the agents. Trump lawyer Christina Bobb said Tuesday that agents left a warrant that indicated they were investigating possible violations of laws dealing with the handling of classified material and the Presidential Records Act.

On Wednesday, Trump was deposed by lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James' office as part of a civil investigation into the Trump Organization'sTrump Organization's business practices. The former president invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination almost 450 times, according to a source familiar with the deposition.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said his office had probable cause to execute the search warrant, and moved to unseal the document and a redacted list of items FBI agents took from the property. Trump said on social media he would not oppose the release of the documents, which are expected to be public later Friday.

On Friday morning, Trump denied a report in The Washington Post that FBI agents had been looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons, calling it a hoax and suggesting the feds had planted evidence at his property.