Trump’s Loyal, ‘Low Profile’ Money Man Could Bring Him Down

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos via Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos via Getty
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When leaders of The Trump Organization would prepare important documents like asset evaluations or taxes, there were usually only two people in the room: Donald Trump and chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

To this point, prosecutors are still searching for ways to flip Weisselberg against his boss. And Trump is Trump. But according to a source with direct knowledge of the company’s inner workings, the man who brought the original documents and tranches of raw data to Trump and Weisselberg—the man who might know how those documents changed in those rooms over the course of more than three decades—is Jeffrey S. McConney.

McConney, a senior vice president at the Trump family empire, was brought in to testify before the grand jury in recent weeks—in the same expansive probe that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is using to potentially indict former President Trump and others, as ABC reported last week.

“Think of The Trump Organization as a small, one-teller bank,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer and former personal lawyer, told The Daily Beast. “Donald [Trump] would be the president. Allen [Weisselberg] would be the branch manager. Jeff [McConney] would be the teller. Every single transaction was booked through McConney.”

When the company made a big payment, McConney would order someone to cut the check—and demanded to get a final copy with the boss’s signature. If there is something in the vast archives of Trump Organization documents and tax paperwork that prosecutors are trying to use against Weisselberg or the twice-impeached former president, McConney is one of the few people on the planet who would have intimate knowledge of what’s off.

The problem for investigators, however, is McConney has a long-standing reputation in the Trump orbit as a loyal footsoldier, as someone who both despises the political left and keeps his mouth shut, according to people who’ve worked with or known McConney. And that’s particularly true if he knows something that could hurt the Trump family.

When asked about McConney, two words frequently come up with people who’ve moved in and out of the Trump Organization: “low profile.”

He started at the Trump Org. in 1987, according to his LinkedIn resume. And though his exact title has changed over those 34 years, his role has remained the same: the guy in charge of the books.

Four people who’ve worked with or know McConney independently described him as a generally quiet and diligent numbers man at Trump Tower. They said he keeps his head down amid the controversies and louder personalities that have often defined the family empire. And Trump has personally commended McConney for his years of loyalty. At the moment, there is little fear in the upper ranks of Trumpworld that McConney would turn on the former president or harm Weisselberg in his grand-jury testimony, according to these sources.

“He takes instruction well, and has followed orders faithfully and very carefully,” one of these people said.

McConney is generally well-liked at Trump Tower, and has gained a reputation as being, among other things, “not a blabber,” according to another source with knowledge of the matter.

Calls and emails to McConney went unanswered. And The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

In describing his politics, which the Trump Organization controller usually keeps private and among friends, this source added that McConney “hates liberals, thinks New York was being run to shit by [Mayor Bill] de Blasio, and said Obama was terrible for business. A true, rank-and-file Republican voter.”

During certain stages of Trump’s 2016 presidential run, McConney was also there, quietly working in the background. He was one of the main Trump Org. lieutenants overseeing the preparation of the financial records that Team Trump released during the 2016 campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter.

And throughout the decades, well before the 45th U.S. president’s political rise, Trump and his inner circle have leaned so heavily on McConney that he has at times found himself in the room when Trump and his closest advisers were figuring out how to navigate some of the organization’s biggest crises and cash woes.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, when the Trump Organization was slammed with heavy losses and financial turmoil during the 1990s, McConney was among the small group of people present in the boardroom on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, where Trump would pace back and forth, thinking about how to dig himself out of a gaping financial hole.

“All I need is one more deal… We’ll get through this, we’ll get through this,” Trump would say, according to this source, trying to reassure himself and the rest of the boardroom crew.

While others at Trump Tower would walk or taxi into work, McConney would take the train, one source said. He’d travel from the same house in Marlboro, New Jersey that he purchased just after landing his job at the company, records show. And when others would go out for lunch, this source said, McConney would sit and watch golf in the conference room with fellow mid-level executives and his boss, Weisselberg. Or he’d eat at his desk.

McConney was so loyal that, when milling about Trump’s Manhattan headquarters, he’d often be spotted dutifully wearing a Trump-branded necktie.

But while McConney developed a trusted reputation, and had the responsibility of monitoring the money flow, he was kept out of the room when the company’s top officials got creative with financial statements, according to one source with direct knowledge of the company’s inner workings.

For example, when it came time to prepare tax paperwork, McConney would bring printouts of the company’s numbers and meet one-one-one with Weisselberg. At that point, he’d leave the room, and Weisselberg would discuss the documents with the company’s go-to taxman at Mazars USA, Donald Bender. Those two would then be joined by Donald Trump himself—and then Bender would eventually leave the room so that just Weisselberg and Trump could finalize the numbers as they saw fit, this source said.

That process was alluded to in an October 2007 issue of Worth magazine, where Trump praised his core in-house financial advisers, singling out people like McConney and Weisselberg.

“I listen to what they have to say, and make my own decisions in the final analysis,” Trump told Worth. “I know the responsibility rests with me, but I have excellent people and I respect their input.”

Trump continued that Weisselberg, McConney, and assistant controller Eric Sacher all worked well together. “I meet with them as we need to, maybe a couple of times a week, and with Allen on a daily basis,” he said.

It is precisely this process that will be examined by law enforcement. The New York investigation into the ex-president and his sprawling business, which now involves the state’s attorney general and the Manhattan DA, is exploring whether the company falsified the values of assets to obtain bank loans and dodge taxes, according to court filings. Their case could hinge on the actions of the company’s chief financial officer, Weisselberg. And that’s where McConney could be pivotal.

As the organization’s controller, McConney has answered directly to Weisselberg.

Investigators recently examined McConney and have been asking about his role at the Trump Organization, largely as part of an effort to “tighten” their focus on Weisselberg, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office declined to comment on McConney or confirm the ongoing secret grand jury proceedings.

In recent months, those approached by investigators have answered questions and supplied documents specifically regarding McConney, one of the sources added. But like Weisselberg, McConney could be difficult to crack.

When the New York State AG looked into what it called a “shocking pattern of illegality” at the Trump Foundation for coordinating with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, investigators interviewed McConney.

Although he was not a target himself, emails showed he played a central role in cutting checks and redistributing incoming donations from Trump’s rich friends. For example, when the New York Daily News caught Trump stiffing a charity for homeless veterans in 2016, McConney was at the center of the effort to make good on promises to charities.

“Please cut a check out of DJTs foundation in the amount of $40,000 to Veterans in Command,” McConney instructed an employee, referring to Donald J. Trump. “Put a note on the check and return a signed check to me.”

Emails showed that McConney coordinated all the donations, and then ordered all the checks signed by the boss—“DJT”—to be sent back to him. The Trump Foundation was later forced to shut down after a state judge found it broke the law when donations meant for veterans were “used for Mr. Trump’s political campaign and disbursed by Mr. Trump’s campaign staff, rather than by the Foundation.”

McConney popped up again in Aug. 2019, when the Manhattan DA was seeking information about Trump’s hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. McConney was one of the few Trump Organization employees to be singled out in a grand jury subpoena that wanted three years’ worth of documents and communications to see if the payments were criminal, according to court records.

“McConney is supposed to be in charge of all financial and accounting controls. That’s what he does,” said Marty Sheil, a retired supervisory special agent at the IRS. “If somebody is cooking the books, he almost has to be involved. If Weisselberg is the chief chef cooking the books, McConney has to be the sous chef.”

Still, McConney could prove tough to flip. His loyalty runs so deep it apparently extends to his offspring.

His son, Justin McConney, was dubbed by Politico in late 2015 as “Trump’s 29-year-old social media whiz.” The younger McConney is even credited with convincing Trump to adopt social media—particularly Twitter—as a primary tool for political messaging and sniping at celebrities and bitter rivals.

In a 2018 interview, also with Politico, Justin McConney said the moment he found out Trump could tweet himself, it was “comparable to the moment in Jurassic Park when Dr. Grant realized that velociraptors could open doors. I was like, ‘Oh, no.’”

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