Trump tax record investigation extends beyond hush money payments

Trump tax record investigation extends beyond hush money payments

Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance stated in court filings with a district judge on Monday that the scope of his investigation into United States President Donald Trump’s tax records extends beyond hush money payments.

Vance’s attorneys wrote in court filings to Victor Marrero, senior judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, that the investigation was into “extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization.

The prosecutors’ filings outlining the scope of the investigation against Trump’s finances come after the Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump was not immune from Vance’s subpoena demanding his tax records.

However, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts, stating that Trump could still object to the scope and relevance of the subpoena.

Trump went on to file an amendment complaint last week claiming that Vance’s subpoena, which seeks eight years of Trump’s business and personal tax records from his accounting firm, Mazars, USA, was “wildly overboard” and politically motivated.

Vance responded in court filings on Monday that the subpoena was issued not just because of the hush money payments but also because of the “public allegations of possible criminal activity at [the] Plaintiff’s New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade."

Until now, it was largely assumed that Vance’s subpoena demanding Trump’s tax records was for hush money payments made to two women Trump allegedly had an affair with before being elected president in 2016. The payments, made by Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, were deemed in violation of campaign finance laws.

Prosecutors argued in court filings that the “Plaintiff’s argument that the Mazars subpoena is overbroad fails for the additional reason that it rests on the false premise that the grand jury’s investigation is limited to so-called ‘hush-money’ payments made by Michael Cohen on behalf of Plaintiff in 2016."

As evidence, the prosecutors pointed out that the subpoena was issued at the time when news reports alleged Trump may have illegally inflated his property values and net worth to obtain loans from lenders.

The prosecutors also pointed to the congressional testimony of Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, according to which Trump had allegedly committed insurance fraud, adding that with extensive public reports “of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization, there was nothing facially improper (or even particularly unusual) about the Mazars subpoena, which [was] issued in connection with a complex financial investigation, requesting eight years of records from an accounting firm."

The broader investigation could pose a much greater risk for Trump and his organization as it could potentially lead to charges of insurance and bank fraud, much more serious felonies than the filing of false business records when the hush money payments were made.

Trump responds

On Monday, Trump responded to Vance’s court filings in a press briefing, saying, “It’s Democrat stuff. They failed with Mueller. They failed with everything."

Trump further called the investigation a “continuation of the worst witch hunt in American history” adding in reference to Democrats, “it’s a terrible thing that they do. It’s really a terrible thing.”

The scope of Vance’s investigation was outlined to the court in 2019. However, several paragraphs over three pages were redacted from public view because grand jury investigations, such as these, are subjected to secrecy by law.

Marrero had viewed the unredacted files in private and found that the subpoena issued against Trump was not overly broad.

The grand jury secrecy rules mean that even if Vance is able to obtain Trump’s tax records after publicly outlining the broader scope of the investigation by citing news reports of Trump’s financial wrongdoing, the records are unlikely to be made public anytime soon.

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