President Trump may be investigated for tax fraud, NY DA says

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance leaves a hearing in US President Donald Trump’s tax case in the Manhattan borough of New York

Vance leaves a hearing in US President Donald Trump's tax case in the Manhattan borough of New York, October 23, 2019.

Lawyers working for the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. issued a new filing in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday, arguing that a grand jury probe could be initiated exclusively based on misstatements and other public allegations about the president's finances.

Trump's legal team has argued that Vance is misrepresenting the true scope of the investigation to support the president's recent challenge to the legality of the subpoena. Despite all the president's efforts to stall and fight the requests in court, the D.A. now says there is sufficient evidence to proceed with an investigation for criminal tax fraud, insurance fraud, falsification of business records, and scheming to defraud.

Vance's office declined to comment.

The lawyers said the "mountainous" public allegations of misconduct, including misstatements about business properties, could justify a grand jury probe into possible tax fraud, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. Trump has said he expects this case to make it to the Supreme Court, where he is now rushing to seat a new conservative Justice before the November election.

These included New York Attorney General Letitia James' probe into whether the company overstated asset values to obtain loans and tax benefits, and the guilty plea of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen to campaign finance and other charges.

The New York Times reported that Vance's office gave details about the investigation that it has been working on for the past two years.


Vance's lawyers also justified the subpoena by pointing to "numerous" reports of possible financial improprieties involving the Trump Organization and its affiliates.

Even if Trump loses, he can try to get the Supreme Court to take up the case a second time, and grand jury secrecy laws limit the ability of Vance's office to make Trump's papers public.

The dispute over whether the records will be turned over is before the Second Circuit appeals court after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the president's claim to absolute immunity from a state criminal investigation.

But lawyers for Vance said Trump's arguments, including that the Mazars subpoena largely copied an earlier subpoena from Democrats in the US House of Representatives, were "recycled" from when he claimed immunity.

A lower-court judge last month rejected Trump's latest bid to block the subpoena, which is directed to his accountants at Mazars USA.

Though the appeal was fast-tracked, it is unlikely the public will know what's in Trump's tax returns before the November 3 election.

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