NEW YORK (AP) – Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has fought for a year and a half to gain access to former President Donald Trump’s tax records.
Now, thanks to a United States Supreme Court ruling, he will have them soon. But what will this mean for the Democrat’s investigation into Trump’s business affairs?
Former prosecutors say the mine of documents could give investigators new tools to determine whether Trump lied to lenders or tax officials, before or after taking office.
“Prosecutors are looking for gaps in the paperwork. For example, if Trump tells the IRS he’s broke and the lenders he’s rich, that’s just the type of gap they could build a case around, ”said Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor. federal who has worked on a wide range of white collar cases as Chief of Vance. confiscation of property.
“These documents are a very important piece of the puzzle,” said Levin.
It is not certain that Trump’s archives will contain evidence of a crime. The former president has argued for years that he did not break any laws and that he was unfairly targeted by Democrats for political reasons.
Here is an overview of areas where tax records might be useful, and where they might not help much, in the district attorney’s investigation:
MORE THAN JUST RETURNS
Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent his federal tax returns from becoming public, but those aren’t the only valuable documents included in that transport.
Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, is supposed to deliver not only final versions of Trump’s tax returns, but also drafts of those returns and “all statements of financial position, annual statements, periodic financial reports and reports ”held by the company.
It could give state prosecutors an “open book” on Trump’s finances, said Adam D. Citron, former attorney and partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. “It really is the kitchen sink.”
Reviewing these other documents could be critical in determining whether Trump or his companies have given tax authorities information about his income different from what they have presented to other officials, such as banks and business partners.
When the district attorney’s investigation first began, one of the initial subpoenas sent to the Trump organization requested information about the payments former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had arranged for the women. who claimed to have had extra-marital sex with Trump.
Cohen said Trump’s company then reimbursed him for one of those payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, disguising it in the form of legal fees.
It is not clear, however, whether Trump’s tax records will add much to this part of the investigation. The New York Times, which obtained years of tax data from Trump, wrote that it contained “no new revelations” about the payment to Daniels and did not include any itemized payments to Cohen.
The district attorney’s office has investigated some of the steps Trump has taken to reduce his tax bill. The data contained in the declarations could be essential to analyze whether any of these maneuvers crossed the legal limits.
One of the breaks under review is the one Trump got for donating part of his estate in Seven Springs, upstate New York, to a conservation trust. Some pundits have questioned whether Trump is overvaluing the pitch to get a bigger break than he deserves.
Investigators have already assigned and received numerous documents related to the land transaction. Trump received a similar donation for conservation in California.
DECLARATIONS TO LENDERS
Vance’s office did not disclose the full nature of his investigation. But in court filings, prosecutors pointed to news reports that questioned whether Trump has chronically exaggerated the value of his assets for banks and insurance companies. The Associated Press reported last month that Vance’s office recently interviewed Cohen for hours, asking him, among other things, about Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his largest and oldest creditor.
A Washington Post article cited by prosecutors detailed how various financial disclosures from the Trump organization inflated the number of lots for sale on a California golf course, the area of one of its vineyards, and the number of stories at Trump Tower while excluding information on debts from its Chicago and Las Vegas hotel projects.
Tax records will only be one tool that prosecutors will use to determine if any of these returns constituted fraud.
“They’re going to look at appraisals and property values,” Citron said of state prosecutors. “They will look at the lawyers’ invoices to see what their expenses were used for.”
Monday’s decision does not guarantee that the public will see Trump’s financial statements. For now, they are protected by the rules of grand jury secrecy. Even if charges were laid in the case, these documents would likely be heavily redacted if they were put on the record.
“Even then, I’m sure there will be tons of litigation about it,” Citron said.
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