Court Battles

Prosecutors hint at probe into ‘possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization’

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Monday hinted that its subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns is part of an investigation into “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” including potential fraud allegations detailed in media reports in recent years.

In response to the latest legal challenge by Trump’s attorneys, New York County prosecutors said that news reports about the president’s financial history provide sufficient justification for requesting the extensive amount of information from the accounting firm Mazars in their grand jury investigation.

“In light of these 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,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing submitted Monday.

A footnote in the court filing listed three media stories published in 2018 and 2019 about the president’s financial history. One of them, a Washington Post story published last year, reported that Trump had inflated his net worth to potential lenders and investors.

Prosecutors also cited a 2018 New York Times investigation that found Trump had employed “dubious tax schemes” that included “outright fraud” while managing the Trump Organization, which he still owns, in the 1990s.

A third story, from The Wall Street Journal, details former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s allegations that the president directed him to pay hush money to two women who claim to have had affairs with the president. Those allegations had been previously cited by the prosecutor’s office in issuing the subpoena.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Trump did not have any special immunity to a grand jury investigation like the one being pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

In light of that ruling, Trump’s personal attorneys filed a new complaint with the federal district court in Manhattan last week that argued the subpoena is overly broad and “amounts to harassment of the President.”

“This is not a straightforward request to review specific business transitions; it is an overreaching demand designed to pick apart the President and each related entity from the inside out, without regard to the geographic limits of the District Attorney’s jurisdiction or the scope of the grand jury’s investigation,” Trump’s legal team wrote.

“Plaintiff’s baseless [complaint] merely serves to delay the grand jury’s investigation,” the prosecutor’s office wrote in a court filing on Monday. “Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.”

Vance’s office responded on Monday by arguing that the latest complaint fails to put forth any valid legal challenges to the subpoena that haven’t already been considered and rejected by the higher courts. The prosecutors argued that under federal court procedural rules, Trump’s complaint should be thrown out.

Trump’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

–This developing report will be updated.

Tags Donald Trump Manhattan district attorney's office Michael Cohen trump tax returns

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