- Jennifer Weisselberg told NBC News Donald Trump controls people by giving them "homes and things."
- She's Barry Weisselberg's ex-wife. Prosecutors are reportedly investigating to flip his father.
- Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg has been loyal to the Trumps for more than 40 years.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Jennifer Weisselberg, whom Manhattan prosecutors are speaking with as part of a wide-ranging investigation into former President Donald Trump's finances, said Trump instills loyalty in close aides through control.
"They control people by compensating you with homes and things," Weisselberg said in an interview with NBC News published Friday. "It's not easy to walk away when they provide your home."
Weisselberg has spoken with prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office "multiple times," she told NBC News. The office is examining the finances of Trump and The Trump Organization. Court filings suggest that investigators are looking into whether they broke tax laws by keeping two sets of books to receive both favorable loan terms and low tax rates, which ProPublica previously reported.
Prosecutors in the office are trying to "flip" Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization and personal bookkeeper of the Trump family's finances, The Washington Post reported. They've obtained millions of pages of documents about Trump's finances through subpoenas and want Weisselberg to guide them through the paperwork, according to the Post.
Weisselberg, who divorced Allen's son Barry in 2018, may be helping prosecutors flip him. She told Bloomberg News in 2020 that she and Barry received an apartment from Trump when they got married in 2004 and didn't pay any rent for it. Prosecutors appear to be looking into whether Barry broke tax laws by miscategorizing the apartment on his filings, and whether those details could be used to secure Allen's cooperation. Allen's other son, Jack, also lived in the building for a time, property records reviewed by Insider showed.
"The likelihood of him cooperating goes up significantly if, in fact, the prosecutors have criminal charges that can reasonably be brought against his sons," Jeff Robbins, a former federal prosecutor, previously told Insider. "For the simple human reason that what father would not do something unpleasant in order to help his sons out of a legal jam?"
Allen Weisselberg has been one of Trump's most loyal employees, working for the family since Fred Trump, Donald Trump's father, hired him in the 1970s.
His former daughter-in-law suggested to NBC News that the extensive and unusual financial ties between Trump's high-ranking employees and the Trump Organization itself may help explain that loyalty. Barry Weisselberg also runs the Wollman Rink, operated by the Trump Organization, in Central Park. Matthew Calamari, the COO of the Trump Organization and another loyal aide, also has an apartment at the Trump Parc View building and also has a son who works for the company.
"His office is right next door. He discusses everything with him," Jennifer Weisselberg told NBC News of her former father-in-law. "And Donald trusts him to continue the legacy the way his father set things up."
Jennifer Weisselberg also said she's speaking to the public because of a custody dispute with Barry Weisselberg over her two children.
"I have no reason to be here except that I am not a woman who is willing to live a life of secrecy, out of fear, any longer," she told NBC News. "They will out resource me in the courts forever, and I have tried to be graceful, and I have tried to handle this privately. And they are not agreeing to do so at all. What choice do I have?"
Her lawyer also previously told Insider that Jennifer Weisselberg "refuses to be silenced any longer by those who are conspiring to prevent her from sharing what she has learned over the past 25 years."
A representative for the Trump Organization didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.