David Fahrenthold: Assume Trump will run in 2024 ‘until he says otherwise’

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves after a rally on July 3, 2021, in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, a weekly guest of Seattle’s Morning News, has been focused on Donald Trump and the Trump Organization’s finances.

His latest piece on the Trump Organization is about Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization who, two weeks ago, was indicted for tax fraud.

Fahrenthold: ‘Cheapness won out’ in Trump Organization’s record keeping

“So the Trump Organization has a million little LLCs and corporations that run its individual properties,” Fahrenthold explained. “That’s how it’s administered to this sort of web of LLCs. And they’ve begun removing Weisselberg’s name from individual LLCs. … They haven’t, as far as I can tell, actually kicked him out of his job as CFO of the whole organization.”

“So these changes, for now, are kind of more of a formality. It may have posed problems for those individual LLCs to get loans or deal with regulators that they had an indicted guy on their on the board of directors. If they get rid of Weisselberg from the company, the Trump Organization itself, that to me is more significant, or if he leaves on his own accord,” he added.

Weisselberg would also be a key witness for prosecutors if he spoke out against the Trump Organization.

“So we’re alive for any sign that Weisselberg has turned or that Trump is alienating him by kicking him out at just the time when he needs him to be close to him,” Fahrenthold said.

For now, Fahrenthold doesn’t think what happens in court will impact former President Donald Trump’s decision to run again in 2024.

“He hasn’t announced it but I think it’s pretty clear he is planning [to run],” Fahrenthold said. “I think we should all assume that he’s going to until he says otherwise, but I don’t see the downside for him and it allows him to raise money and build a platform.”

“To me, the consequences of this court proceeding in New York will be for Allen Weisselberg, maybe for Trump if they indict him. I think that’s kind of a ways off, if it’s ever going to happen. The biggest consequences will be on the company,” he said. “Remember, the Trump Organization is already running on one cylinder, two wheels. … You’ve got a lot of problems and if the loss of Weisselberg, the extra legal fees, the legal pressure, that could cause the Trump Organization to fail as a company or sort of roll up and leave. I don’t think it will hurt Trump as a politician or change his mind about running in 2024.”

As far as the 2022 election, Fahrenthold says Trump seems to be endorsing candidates based on loyalty to him and his “big lie about the 2020 election, often choosing people who are not good candidates and who may lose.”

“So I think Republicans are sort of worried about that, that Trump seems to be choosing basically people based only on their loyalty to him,” Fahrenthold said. “He’s not picking people that may win in 2022.”

That said, the only person Fahrenthold points to as a challenge to his leadership of the party or as a potential next leader would be Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.

“He is waging this really interesting campaign where he’s on Fox News a lot, he’s trolling the liberals a lot. He’s done a lot of things both to enact conservative priorities in Florida, but also to sort of get people mad at him about coronavirus and other things,” he said. “So in polls, you’re starting to see him creep up, up, and up.”

“He certainly hasn’t said anything so far that he wants to take Trump head on. But he may be hoping that if Trump decides not to run or if people get tired of Trump, that he’s sort of anointing himself as the next guy. Eventually, that strategy may start to take some of Trump’s oxygen away as people look to a new guy rather than this guy we’ve all heard about for six years,” Fahrenthold said.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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