Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. Investigating Potential Fraud By Trump Organization, Court Filing Indicates
President Donald Trump and his organization may be under investigation for possible bank and insurance fraud, new court filings from the Manhattan District attorney’s office indicate.
The district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., has been actively seeking Trump’s tax returns since August 2019, but suggested for the first time Monday that the inquiry was not limited to alleged hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump.
Vance and his attorneys had previously disclosed little about why they are seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax records, besides the hush-money allegation.
However, Vance’s team rejected Trump’s attorneys’ arguments that the subpoena was too broad in a court filing on Monday, writing that their defense originated from “the false premise” that the investigation was limited to the “hush-money” payments.
“This Court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by undisputed information in the public record,” Vance’s lawyers wrote.
Trump’s legal team has been pushing back against the subpoena, previously arguing that a sitting president is immune from criminal investigations – an idea that was rejected by the Supreme Court in early July.
The prosecutors said that when the subpoena was first issued “there were public allegations of possible criminal activity at Plaintiff’s New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade.”
“These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New York’s borders,” the lawyers said. “This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct.”
Vance’s lawyers said Trump was not entitled to know the full scope of the grand jury investigation, but noted public reports as evidence that a subpoena of his tax returns was warranted.
One of the articles cited, published by the Washington Post, shined a light on allegations that Trump would send out financial statements to potential business partners and banks which inflated the worth of his properties.
In his congressional testimony, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said the Trump Organization would value their properties by comparing it to a higher-valued asset or by making up a number “based upon what [Trump] wanted to value the asset at.”
He provided three financial documents as evidence, but his claims were otherwise largely uncorroborated.
He explained to Congress that when valuing a Trump property at 40 Wall Street, they found a similar-sized property, at 1.2 million square feet, and then tried “find an asset that is comparable, find the highest price per square foot that’s achieved in the area and apply it to that building.”
Cohen also said Trump “deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes” and would manipulate the numbers to get better insurance rates.
“When we were dealing, later on, with insurance companies, we would provide them with these copies so that they would understand that the premium, which is based sometimes upon the individual’s capabilities to pay, would be reduced,” he said.
Cohen is currently serving his three-year prison sentence in home confinement after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.
He was previously Trump’s “fixer” and reportedly made the hush-money payments on the president’s behalf. Trump has denied the affairs and that he requested Cohen to pay off the two women, adult film actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal.
Vance’s office has been looking into whether those payments violated New York State law.