What New York prosecutors may have learned from Trump’s tax records


NEW YORK (AP) – Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, has been fighting for a year and a half to access former President Donald Trump’s tax records.

Now, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, they will be there soon. But what does this mean for Democrat Trump’s business?

Former prosecutors say the plethora of documents could provide investigators with new tools to determine whether Trump lied to creditors or tax officials before or after taking office.

“Prosecutors are looking for discrepancies in paperwork. For example, if Trump told the IRS he was bankrupt and his creditors were rich, that was exactly the difference on which they could build a case. , ”Said Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor who worked as a head of Vance on a wide range of white-collar cases. loss of property.

“These documents are very important pieces of the puzzle,” Levin said.

It is unclear whether Trump’s records contain evidence of a crime. The former president has argued for years that he has not violated any law and has been unfairly targeted democrats for political reasons.

Here’s an overview of where tax records can be useful and where they can’t do much to help district prosecutors investigate:

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MORE THAN RETURN ONLY

Trump has made extraordinary efforts to keep his federal income tax returns undisclosed, but not only are these valuable documents included in this catch.

Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, is said to be required to provide not only the final versions of Trump’s tax returns, but also drafts of those returns and “statements of financial position, annual statements, periodic financial statements and independent auditors”. reports ’.

This could give state prosecutors an “open book” about Trump’s finances, said Adam D. Citron, former attorney general and partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. – It’s really the kitchen sink.

Examination of these other documents may be key to determining whether Trump or its companies provided other information about the income to the tax authorities than was presented to other officials, such as banks and business partners.

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HUSH MONEY

When the district attorney’s investigation first began, one of the first subpoenas sent to the Trump Organization asked for information about payments made by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, to women who allegedly had an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump.

Cohen said Trump’s company later reimbursed him for one payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, disguised in the form of legal fees.

However, it is unclear whether Trump’s tax records will add much to this part of the probe. The New York Times, which had been receiving Trump’s tax data for years, wrote that it “does not contain new revelations” about the amounts paid to Daniels and did not include itemized payments to Cohen.

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TAX CANCELLATIONS

The district attorney’s office investigated some of the measures Trump took to reduce the tax bill. The data in the returns may be essential to analyze whether one of these maneuvers has crossed the legal lines.

One of the fractures under review is what Trump received for donating his property in Seven Springs, North of New York, for a conservation trust. Some experts have questioned whether Trump overestimated the land to get a bigger break than he deserved.

Investigators cited and received a number of documents related to the land transaction. Trump had a similar conservation donation in California.

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DECLARATIONS TO CREDITORS

Vance’s office did not disclose the full nature of its investigation. But in court submissions, prosecutors have drawn attention to news articles that have questioned whether Trump has chronically exaggerated the value of his assets to banks and insurance companies. The Associated Press reported last month that Vance’s office had recently interviewed Cohen asked him for hours, including about Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his largest and longest creditor.

The Washington Post story quoted by one prosecutor described in detail how the Trump Organization’s various financial disclosures increased the number of houses for sale on a California golf course, the area of ​​one of its vineyards and the number of stories in the Trump Tower, while ruling out information about its debts. Chicago and Las Vegas hotel projects.

Tax records will only use one tool that prosecutors will use to investigate whether any of these statements have been classified as fraud.

“They will look at valuations and property values,” Citron told state prosecutors. – They look at the lawyers’ bills to find out what their costs are.

Monday’s decision doesn’t ensure the public will know Trump’s financial records. For the time being, they are protected by the jury’s secrecy rules. Even if charges are filed in the case, these documents would likely change significantly if they were entered in the register.

“Even then, I’m sure there will be plenty of lawsuits about this,” Citron said.