NEW YORK (AP) – Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. struggled for a year and a half to access former President Donald Trump’s tax records.
Now, thanks to a ruling by the US Supreme Court.will soon have them. But what will that mean for the Democratic grand jury investigation into Trump’s trade affairs?
Former prosecutors say the treasure trove of records could provide investigators with new tools to determine whether Trump lied to lenders or tax officials, before or after taking office.
“Prosecutors look for discrepancies in the paperwork. For example, if Trump tells the Internal Revenue Service that he is bankrupt and the lenders that he is rich, that’s the kind of discrepancy they could build a case on, ”said Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor who worked extensively. White collar case range as Vance boss. asset forfeiture.
“These documents are a very important piece of the puzzle,” Levin said.
It is not known whether Trump’s records will contain evidence of a crime. The former president, a Republican, has argued for years that he did not violate any laws and has been unfairly targeted by Democrats for political reasons.
Here’s a look at where tax records could be helpful and where they might not help much in the district attorney’s investigation:
MORE THAN JUST RETURNS
Trump did his best to prevent his federal income tax returns from being made public, but those aren’t the only valuable documents included on this tour.
Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, is supposed to deliver not only the final versions of Trump’s tax returns, but also draft versions of those returns and “any and all financial condition statements, annual returns , periodic financial reports and independent auditors “. reports ”held by the company.
The Mazars subpoena also sought participation agreements that define the role of accountants in creating tax returns and financial statements; source documents that provide accountants with raw financial data; and working papers and communications between the firm and Trump representatives. These would include submissions showing how the raw data was analyzed and processed in the preparation of the records.
That could give state prosecutors an “open book” on Trump’s finances, said Adam D. Citron, a former state attorney and partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. “It’s really the kitchen sink.”
Examining those other documents could be key in determining whether Trump or his companies gave tax authorities different information about their income than they presented to other officials, such as banks and business partners.
MONEY FOR YOUR SILENCE
When the district attorney’s investigation began, one of the initial subpoenas sent to the Trump Organization requested information about the payments that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen agreed to with women who claimed to have had extramarital sexual encounters with Trump.
Cohen has said that Trump’s company later reimbursed him for one such payment, to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, disguising it in the form of legal fees.
However, it is unclear whether Trump’s tax records will add much to that part of the investigation. The New York Times, which obtained years of tax data from Trump, wrote that it contained “no new disclosures” about the payment to Daniels and did not include any detailed payments to Cohen.
The district attorney’s office has been investigating some of the arrangements Trump made to reduce his tax bill. The data from the declarations could be essential to analyze if any of these maneuvers crossed the legal limits.
One of the breaks under scrutiny is the one Trump got for donating part of his Seven Springs estate., north of New York City, to a conservation trust. Some experts have questioned whether Trump overvalued the land to get a bigger shot than he deserved.
Researchers have already cited and received many documents related to the treatment of the land. Trump benefited from a similar conservation grant in California.
DECLARATIONS TO LENDERS
Vance’s office has not disclosed the full nature of its investigation. But in court filings, prosecutors have pointed to news articles that questioned whether Trump had chronically overstated the value of his assets to banks and insurance companies. The Associated Press reported last month that Vance’s office recently interviewed Cohen for hours, asking him, among other things, about Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his largest and oldest creditor.
A Washington Post story cited by prosecutors detailed how various Trump Organization financial disclosures inflated the number of home lots for sale on a California golf course, the acreage of one of its vineyards, and the number of stories in the country. Trump Tower, while excluding information on debts in its Hotel Projects in Chicago and Las Vegas.
The tax records will be just one tool that prosecutors will use to examine whether any of those returns constitute fraud.
“They’re going to look at appraisals and property values,” Citron said of state prosecutors. “They will look at the attorneys’ bills to see what their expenses were for.”
Monday’s ruling does not guarantee that the public will see Trump’s financial records. For now, they are protected by the grand jury rules of secrecy. Even if charges are filed in the case, those documents are likely to be largely redacted if filed with the registry.
“Even then, I’m sure there will be tons of litigation on that,” Citron said.