What NY prosecutors could learn from Trump's tax records
NEW YORK (AP) - Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. battled for a year and a half to gain access to former President Donald Trump's tax records.
Thanks to a ruling by the US Supreme Court, he'll have them soon. But what does that mean for the Democrat's investigation into Trump's business affairs?
Former prosecutors say the records could provide new tools for investigators to determine whether Trump lied to lenders or tax officials before or after he took office.
“The prosecutors are looking for discrepancies in the documents. For example, if Trump told the IRS he was broke and the lenders were rich, that might just be the kind of discrepancy it could be, ”said Duncan Levin, a former federal attorney who worked as head of Vance on a variety of Employee cases worked of asset loss.
"These documents are a very important piece of the puzzle," said Levin.
Whether Trump's records contain evidence of a crime is uncertain. The former president has argued for years that he had not broken any laws and was wrongly targeted by Democrats for political reasons.
Here's a look at where the tax records could and may not help much with the district attorney's investigation:
MORE THAN JUST RETURNING
Trump went to extraordinary lengths to prevent his income tax returns from being published, but these are not the only valuable documents contained on this transport.
Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, is required to provide not only the final versions of Trump's tax returns, but also the draft of those tax returns and "all financial reports, annual reports, periodic financial reports and independent auditors." Reports ”of the company.
This could give prosecutors an "open book" on Trump's finances, said Adam D. Citron, former prosecutor and partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. "It really is the sink."
Examining these other documents could be key to determining whether Trump or his companies have given tax authorities different information about his income than what other officials such as banks and business partners have provided.
When the district attorney's investigation began, one of the first subpoenas to the Trump Organization asked for information about payments that Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen had arranged to women who claimed to have had extramarital sexual encounters with Trump.
Cohen said Trump's company later reimbursed him for one of those payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, disguising her in the form of legal fees.
However, it's not clear whether Trump's tax filings will add much to this part of the investigation. The New York Times, which received years of tax data from Trump, wrote that it contained "no new disclosures" about the payment to Daniels and did not include detailed payments to Cohen.
Prosecutors have been investigating some of the precautions Trump has taken to lower his tax burden. Data in the returns could be vital in analyzing whether any of these maneuvers exceeded legal limits.
One of the breaks examined is the one Trump received for donating a portion of his Seven Springs estate north of New York City to a conservation association. Some experts have questioned whether Trump overrated the country to get a bigger break than he deserved.
Investigators have already summoned and received many documents related to the real estate deal. Trump benefited from a similar conservation donation in California.
DECLARATIONS TO THE Lenders
The Vance office has not disclosed the full nature of its investigation. However, in court files, prosecutors have pointed to news articles questioning whether Trump chronically exaggerated the value of his wealth to banks and insurance companies. The Associated Press reported last month that Vance's office recently interviewed Cohen for hours and asked about Trump's relationship with Deutsche Bank, his largest and longest-standing creditor, among other things.
A Washington Post story quoted by prosecutors detailed how various Trump Organization financial claims increased the number of lots for sale on a California golf course, acreage in one of its vineyards, and the number of stories in Trump Tower while Information about debts with him was excluded from hotel projects in Chicago and Las Vegas.
Tax records will only be one tool that prosecutors use to check whether any of these statements constitute fraud.
"You will be dealing with valuations and property values," Citron said of prosecutors. "They'll check the attorneys' bills to see what their expenses were for."
Monday's decision does not ensure the public can see Trump's financial records. Currently they are protected by the grand jury's confidentiality rules. Even if the case is charged, these documents would likely be heavily redacted if put on record.
"Even then, I'm sure there will be tons of litigation," Citron said.
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