Manhattan DA Cy Vance doubling down on Trump investigation
Manhattan DA expected to ramp up investigation into Trump’s taxes after he leaves office: Gasparino
Sources tell FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is discussing the creation of a ‘task force’ to look into Trump’s business dealings.
The politically fraught investigations into President Trump’s business dealings are expected to pick up significant momentum once he leaves office in January, FOX Business has learned.
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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is discussing with advisors in his office the creation of what has been described as a “special task force” to investigate President Trump’s business dealings and how they were accounted for in tax documents and for insurance purposes, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Separately on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the New York County State Supreme Court has ruled she be granted access to documents originally withheld by the Trump Organization. In a statement, she said, “Once again, justice and the rule of law prevailed. We will immediately move to ensure that the Trump Organization complies with the court’s order and submits records related to our investigation. My office's ongoing investigation will continue, as we continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
The task force—if Vance goes through with it—would mean a significant increase in resources and personnel dedicated to the investigation, which has been going on for months.
People with knowledge of the matter say the team would include lawyers and staffers whose only job would be to investigate Trump’s business dealings. The task force would likely be formed around the time Trump leaves office on Jan. 20 and becomes a private citizen.
According to some legal experts, a sitting president is protected from prosecution while he still holds office. The creation of a task force would be a sign the case is the district attorney’s top priority.
A spokesman for Vance’s office declined to comment but would not deny they were discussing creating a task force.
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A lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Trump has in the past denied wrongdoing and has called the investigation by Vance’s office “a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history.”
It’s unclear exactly what Vance is looking at but he has been interviewing banking officials and people who’ve done business with Trump, including employees at Deutsche Bank, which was one of the few banks that continued to do business with Trump following his 1990s brush with bankruptcy. Deutsche Bank declined comment.
People with knowledge of Trump’s bankruptcy say Vance is keenly interested in Trump’s relationship with the German lender and his tax treatment of investments. In testimony before Congress, former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen stated that the president in his private business dealings in real estate would often inflate his holdings for insurance purposes and report that his holdings were less valuable to the government for tax purposes. The result allowed him to pay fewer taxes but get more insurance coverage.
“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen said. Representatives for Trump maintain his business dealings were completely legal. Cohen pled guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations and was sentenced to three years in federal prison and fined $50,000.
The investigations by Vance and James may be contentious even among some Democrats. People with knowledge of President-elect Joe Biden’s thinking say he doesn’t favor such a probe and would like the politically rancorous issue to go away as he gets ready to take office on Jan. 20.
Meanwhile, Biden’s family faces their own legal scrutiny. His son Hunter Biden is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney in Delaware for possible tax evasion. Hunter Biden denies wrongdoing and says he’s handled his affairs “legally and appropriately.”
But some Democrats want to press the investigation into Trump, especially as he continues to say Biden’s presidential victory was illegitimate and blames his loss on election fraud. Meanwhile, people close to Trump say he’s also likely to announce his candidacy for president in 2024—possibly before leaving office in January.
If Trump does announce he’s running, some campaign finance officials say he could use donations he received to his campaign to offset legal fees he may face if Vance or James file charges. Trump has already raised over $200 million since the election to help fight legal battles challenging the outcome’s legitimacy. If he announces a bid for 2024, he could likely raise additional hundreds of millions.
Some key Democrats privately say Vance and James could use the investigations as a way to delegitimize Trump’s brand and possibly prevent him from seeking office again by reducing his political clout.
The political nature of the probes could tarnish the proceedings if they result in charges, legal experts say. In addition, cases such as the ones being investigated that involve tax law violations are notoriously difficult to prove.
Trump, as a private citizen involved in real estate, has been audited by the Internal Revenue Service. The review has gone on for years without charges.
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