Donald Trump Jr. Likens Indictment to How 'Putin Treats His Political Enemies'

Donald Trump Jr. has compared charges against Trump Organization chief financial officer (CFO) Allen Weisselberg to how Russian President Vladimir Putin treats his political opponents.

Former President Donald Trump's eldest son, who is executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the company, spoke to Fox News' Jesse Watters about the indictments on Thursday.

Weisselberg was charged on 15 counts, including conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying business records as part of what prosecutors allege was a 15-year tax scheme "to compensate Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives in a manner that was 'off the books.'" The company was indicted on 10 counts.

Trump Jr. told Watters: "This is the political persecution of a political enemy."

"This is what Vladimir Putin does. Just ask Navalny," he said.

He was referring to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned with chemical weapon Novichock in August 2020.

An outspoken critic of Putin, Navalny is currently serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence in Russia. He was initially sent to a penal colony but went on hunger strike to demand better medical treatment for leg and back pain. He was transferred to a hospital at a different prison. He was later returned to the original correctional facility following his recovery.

"That's what's happened in New York," Trump Jr. said on Thursday. "It's the equivalent of Russia, Russia, Russia."

He later added: "This is what they do to their enemies. No different than Putin. No different than the mullahs."

The Witch Hunt continues folks. I’m beginning to wonder how this is any different than how Vladimir Putin treats his political enemies? My thoughts on the New York DA/AG and their political persecution. https://t.co/3wR7Xjfkbg

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 1, 2021

Trump Jr. also took to Twitter on Thursday to call the Manhattan district attorney's investigation a "witch hunt"—a phrase often used by former President Trump when criticizing other investigations.

"I'm beginning to wonder how this is any different than how Vladimir Putin treats his political enemies?" Trump Jr. wrote, sharing a video of his thoughts where he asked: "How is this any different than what Vladimir Putin does?

In his Fox News interview, Trump Jr. also questioned the charges themselves and the decision to indict Weisselberg, who he says is 75 years old. He is actually 73. The CFO is charged with evading taxes on $1.76 million of income over a 15-year period beginning in 2005.

"After five years, 3 million documents, countless witnesses and hours of grand jury testimony and forensic auditors, this is what they come up with," Trump Jr. said.

"They're going to charge a guy who is 75-years-old on crimes of avoiding paying taxes on fringe benefit. People in corporate America get a corporate card," he said.

Trump Jr. disputed prosecutors' claim that Weisselberg evaded more than $900,000 in state, federal and city taxes. They also allege that he received over $133,000 in state tax refunds he was not entitled to.

"The taxable portion of that to New York state is 8 percent," Trump Jr. said of the $1.76 million.

"That's $136,000 over 16 years. That's 10 grand a year," he said. "Half of that, because my father's a good guy, he paid for this guy's grandchildren's education."

"Our tax experts say that's not even taxable. You can pay for someone's education that way. So you cut it down. It comes out to less than 10 grand a year. It's about closer to five grand a year if you take out the education," Trump Jr. said.

Newsweek has asked the Trump Organization for comment.

Donald Trump Jr. Speaks at a Rally
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a Republican National Committee Victory Rally at Dalton Regional Airport January 4, 2021 in Dalton, Georgia. Trump Jr. has compared charges against the Trump Organization to Russian President Vladimir Putin's treatment of political opponents. Alex Wong/Getty Images