ALBANIA – President Donald Trump’s taxes were already at the center of at least two major investigations in New York, even before the New York Times released a report on a yield mine on Sunday that raises a new round of questions and concerns.
Investigators from New York Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance have scrutinized the president and his companies for more than a year, with Vance battling to get Trump’s tax returns all the way to the Supreme Court.
In recent weeks, James and Vance’s court documents have shed more light on the scope of their respective investigations and the kind of potentially improper activity they are looking for.
Now, those investigations are likely to get new attention in the middle of the New York Times investigative report, which analyzed more than 15 years of Trump’s federal tax returns the paper obtained from classified sources.
Here’s a closer look at the investigation:
Payments investigation leads to Trump’s tax battle
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office has been locked in a battle for Trump’s yields at least since early 2019, when Trump sued Vance in an attempt to block the attorney’s subpoena for tax documents.
At the time, Vance, a Democrat, was investigating a $ 130,000 cash payment made by former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels at the height of the presidential campaign in 2016. Daniels said. of having had a deal with Trump years ago.
Cohen admitted that he was reimbursed by Trump and the Trump Organization, raising doubts that corporate documents were forged to protect himself from potential political harm.
Vance has been suing Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from Mazars USA, the president’s accounting firm, for eight years. Last year, Trump sued in a federal court to block the release, fully backing the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that he was entitled to immunity as president of the United States. But the court allowed Trump, a Republican, to return to lower courts to make other arguments against the subpoena, even if it is excessive and burdensome.
Court documents suggest Trump’s fraud investigation may be justified
The court battle continues, with Trump and Vance attorneys discussing the case in a mid-level appellate court just last week.
As part of these arguments, Vance’s team filed a court statement suggesting that Trump might be subjected to a broader investigation into the fraud, citing an earlier New York Times report and other news articles examining tax strategies. of the Trump family and the approaches used to maximize the legacy from the president’s father.
That’s why Trump shouldn’t be able to block Vance’s subpoena for his tax documents, Vance’s team argued.
“Indeed, the temporal scope of the citation is moderate when compared to the temporal scope of the alleged misconduct in public relations,” the document reads.
In response, Trump’s lawyers accused Vance of engaging in “speculation and innuendo”, accusing him of “engaging in a fishing expedition designed to harass the president”
AG investigating whether Trump has inflated property values
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, launched an investigation on her own after Cohen testified before Congress in February 2019, accusing Trump of inflating his assets for personal gain.
Like Vance’s investigation, much of James’s investigation appears to be focused on Trump’s taxes.
Last month, James’s office exposed the scope of its current investigation in a wide-ranging court motion that sought to force Eric Trump, the president’s son, to file a deposition.
His investigation focuses on Trump improperly inflating the value of four properties, including his massive Seven Springs estate in north Westchester County, to get tax advantages and better terms on bank loans.
In 2015, Donald Trump accepted a conservation easement with the North American Land Trust for a 159-acre portion of the 212-acre Seven Springs property, vowing not to develop the land there after years of trying to turn it into a golf course. or luxury accommodation.
The court filing shows James’s office is looking into whether Trump inflated the estimated value of the sprawling property, which allowed one of his limited liability companies to value the land at $ 21.1 million when the claimed on income tax forms submitted to the IRS.
The attorney general’s office is also focusing on three other Trump properties, according to the motion: 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, and Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.
Last week, a state judge ordered Eric Trump to file a deposition in James’s office by October 7, rejecting Trump’s push to delay the interview until after the election.
Like Vance’s investigation, James’s office has not accused Trump or his associates of any legal wrongdoing at this point.
More:New York is looking into tax fraud allegations against the Trump family
More:Eric Trump must testify under oath in New York investigations ahead of election day, according to the judge
More:The Supreme Court says President Trump cannot keep the tax and financial records of prosecutors
Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.
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