Manhattan DA files brief saying he needs Trump’s tax returns for ‘criminal tax fraud’ investigation

Manhattan DA files brief saying he needs Trump’s tax returns for ‘criminal tax fraud’ investigation
Cy Vance Jr., image via Wikimedia Commons, and Donald Trump, image via U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Whatever happens on Election Day 2020 — whether President Donald Trump wins a second term or Vice President Joe Biden is elected president — Trump will no doubt continue to be the subject of multiple investigations. Some of those investigations are likely to come from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who has been aggressively probing Trump’s financial history. And in an appellate brief filed on Monday, September 21, Vance stressed that his office should have access to Trump’s tax returns because reports from major publications indicate that a “criminal tax fraud” investigation is needed.


Vance, reporter Matt Naham notes in Law & Crime, filed the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. According to Naham, the brief “cited reports from the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to provide a ‘snapshot’ for the Court of the Trump Organization’s ‘financial improprieties’ that ‘could potentially violate New York law.’ These articles addressed anything from Trump’s role in the hush money payments Michael Cohen paid out before the 2016 election to allegations that Trump has inflated his net worth to lenders and investors.”

In the appellate brief, Vance’s office argued, “These reports have identified transactions spanning more than a decade, involving individual and corporate actors who were based in New York County.”

Trump and his attorneys have been arguing that Vance’s investigation lacks substance and that he has nothing concrete to go on. Vance’s office, Trump and his allies claim, is harassing the president for no good reason. But in the brief, Vance got into specific reasons why he believes an investigation is needed.

The brief reads, “In particular, if misstatements about business properties, wherever located, were conveyed from that business’ headquarters in New York to New York-based business partners, insurers, potential lenders or tax authorities, those misstatements could establish New York crimes such as Scheme to Defraud (Penal Law § 190.65), Falsification of Business Records (Penal Law § 175.10), Insurance Fraud (Penal Law §§ 176.15-176.30), and Criminal Tax Fraud (Tax Law §§ 1803-1806), among others.”

Naham points out that Vance’s investigation of Trump goes beyond hush money payments made by Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney. Vance’s office, Naham notes, has also been well-aware of a “series of bombshell reports from the Washington Post about the 45th president’s alleged wealth-inflation and the Trump Organization’s alleged tax-dodging strategies — encompassing possible insurance fraud and bank fraud. On Monday, Vance argued, for the first time, that you can add criminal tax fraud to the pile.”

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