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The New York Times

Here’s the rest of the Trump tax investigation

NEW YORK – Terabytes of data. Dozens of prosecutors, investigators and forensic accountants review millions of pages of financial documents. An outside consulting firm exploring the intricacies of commercial real estate and tax strategies. That’s the monumental task that awaits us in Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and his family business after a U.S. Supreme Court order clears the way for prosecutors to secure eight years of tax returns and other Trump financial records. The brief, unsigned order was a resounding victory for prosecutors and a defeat for Trump, ending his bitter and prolonged legal battle to block the release of the files – an effort that has twice reached the Supreme Court – and has rocked the efforts of prosecutors. after the lawsuit blocked them for over a year. Sign up for The Morning New York Times newsletter The investigation is one of two known criminal investigations into Trump, the other from prosecutors in Georgia reviewing Trump’s efforts to persuade local officials to overturn the results elections there. When Trump left office, he lost the protection against charges that the presidency granted him. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. issued a terse statement, saying: “The work continues.” A spokesperson for his office declined to comment further on the investigation. The next crucial step in the Manhattan investigation will begin in earnest this week when investigators from the District Attorney’s Office collect records from the law firm that represents Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, according to people familiar with the matter. as well as former prosecutors. and other experts who described the next steps on condition of anonymity. Investigators, armed with a copy of the August 2019 grand jury summons that was at the heart of the trial, will travel to the Westchester County law firm office in New York City. They will walk away with a vast treasure trove of digital copies of tax returns, reams of financial statements, and other tax documents and communications from Trump and his companies. Then, investigators will provide the bulk of data to Vance’s office, where the team of prosecutors, forensic accountants, and analysts investigated Trump and his companies for a wide range of possible financial crimes. Vance, a Democrat, examined whether Trump, his company and his employees committed insurance, tax and banking fraud, among other crimes, people with knowledge of the matter said. Even before the Supreme Court ruling, the investigation had flared up, with Vance’s office issuing more than a dozen subpoenas in recent months and questioning witnesses, including employees of Deutsche Bank, the one of Trump’s main lenders. The subpoenas relate to a central aspect of Vance’s investigation, which focuses on whether Trump’s company, the Trump organization, has inflated the value of some of its signature properties to get the best possible loans, while minimizing values ​​to reduce property taxes, people with knowledge. of the question have said. Prosecutors are also reviewing the Trump organization’s statements to insurance companies about the value of various assets. Now armed with Mazars records – including tax returns, the business records they are based on, and communications between the Trump Organization and its accountants – prosecutors will be able to see a more complete picture of the potential discrepancies between what the company has told his lenders. and tax authorities. Prosecutors have also subpoenaed the Trump Organization to obtain files related to tax write-offs over millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have been paid to the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, an arrangement reported for the first time by The New York Times. The company handed over some of those documents last month, two people familiar with the case said, although prosecutors questioned whether the company had fully responded to the summons. It is still unclear whether prosecutors will ultimately lay charges against Donald Trump; the company; or one of its leaders, including Trump’s two grown sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. In a lengthy and angry statement that included a reiteration of many of his familiar grievances, Donald Trump criticized the Supreme Court and the inquiry, which he called “a continuation of the biggest political witch hunt in the world.” history of our country ”. He added, “For over two years, New York City has looked at almost every transaction I have ever made, including looking for tax returns that were done by one of the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the United States. ” Trump’s lawyers are likely to argue to prosecutors that Trump could not have fooled Deutsche Bank because the bank, a sophisticated financial player, conducted its own analysis of Trump’s properties. Mazars said in a statement that he was aware of the new decision. “As we have supported throughout this process, Mazars remains committed to fulfilling all of its professional and legal obligations,” the statement said. The biggest challenge for Vance’s attorneys will be piecing together the puzzle of the tax records, financial statements, and supporting documents that Trump’s companies have provided to accountants. Earlier this month, Vance enlisted a prominent figure in New York law circles, Mark F. Pomerantz, to assist with the investigation. Pomerantz, a former senior federal prosecutor with significant experience in both investigating and defending complex white-collar and organized crime cases, will handle interactions with key witnesses, among other duties. To get further help, Vance’s office hired FTI, a large consulting firm that can analyze some of the industries Trump’s businesses operate in, including commercial real estate, as well as tax matters, people said. knowing the subject. The company will also load the document mine into a data analysis and document management system that it can use to explore them and find models to support the investigation, the people said. The action of the Supreme Court justices, who, without dissenting, denied Trump an emergency stay so the court can fully consider the issues in the case for the second time, will not hand over the tax returns in the hands of Congress or will not automatically make them public. Grand jury secrecy laws will keep records private unless Vance’s office lays charges and enters documents into evidence at a trial. The public has already learned a lot about Trump’s taxes in other ways. The New York Times has obtained tax return data spanning more than two decades for Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information about his first two years in office. The Times ran a series of investigative articles last year based on an analysis of data showing that Trump paid virtually no income tax for many years and is currently doing the subject to an audit in which an unfavorable decision could cost it more than $ 100 million. He and his companies file separate tax returns and use complicated and sometimes aggressive tax strategies, the investigation found. But the Supreme Court’s action has sparked a series of events that could lead to the extraordinary possibility of a criminal trial for the former president. At a minimum, the ruling wrests control of his most closely held financial records from Trump and the power to decide when, if any, they would be made available to the public for inspection. Trump and his lawyers have long fought to keep the files a secret. After promising in the 2016 campaign that he would release his tax returns, as all presidential candidates have done for at least 40 years, he refused to do so, offering Democrats a lingering line of criticism. and other adversaries. In addition to fighting the subpoena for Vance’s office in court, Trump has filed a lawsuit to block the subpoena from Congress and successfully challenged a California law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their statements. The Supreme Court ruling comes nearly 18 months after Trump first sued Vance, seeking to block the subpoena from his office and sparking a legal battle that first reached the Supreme Court last summer . In a landmark ruling in July, the court rejected Trump’s argument that, as sitting president, he was immune from investigation. The case was defended by Vance’s general counsel, Carey Dunne, who is helping with the investigation. But the court said Trump can challenge the subpoena on other grounds, such as its relevance and scope. Trump then launched a new legal fight, arguing the subpoena was too broad and amounted to political harassment. After losing that argument in lower courts, Trump asked the Supreme Court to delay the execution of Vance’s subpoena until it can decide to hear Trump’s appeal. It was this request that the Supreme Court rejected, ending the former president’s legal quest, legal experts said. “Trump will not be referred as a former president,” said Anne Milgram, a former Manhattan assistant attorney who later served as New Jersey’s attorney general. “Under New York State law, he has the same rights as everyone else in the state. No more no less. Longtime defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Reed Brodsky said Trump’s lawyers will likely tell him that further attempts to block the subpoena could jeopardize their ability to make a case for his defense. . “They run the risk, if they continue to make frivolous arguments, of undermining their credibility,” Brodsky said. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company


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