Michael Cohen Subpoenaed By New York State Tax Dept. In Trump Foundation Probe
On Wednesday, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance subpoenaed former longtime lawyer of President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, as part of an ongoing multi-agency investigation wether the Trump Foundation violated New York tax laws.
“A subpoena has been issued to Michael Cohen for relevant information in light of the public disclosures made yesterday,” said Tax Department spokesperson John Gazzale in a statement. “We will be working with the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan district attorney as appropriate. We can’t comment further on this investigation.”
“As our lawsuit against the Trump Foundation illustrates, we will hold Donald Trump and his associates accountable for violations of state law, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary,” said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office to reporters. She added that the office “cannot comment on potential or ongoing investigations.”
A source familiar with the investigation told CNBC that anything the Tax Department uncovers through its investigation will be referred to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, a separate New York state agency, for prosecution. Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight criminal charges, including tax fraud and campaign finance crimes.
New York’s Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit in June accusing Trump’s charitable foundation of having “operated in persistent violation of state and federal law governing New York State charities” for more than a decade by paying off legal bills with charitable funds, promoting Trump hotels, and purchasing personal items.
The lawsuit targets Trump and three of his children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — and seeks to dissolve the private New York-based foundation, obtain restitution of $2.8 million and prevent the president from future service as a director and his children from service of any nonprofits in the future.
When the lawsuit initially was filed, Trump responded furiously on Twitter, accusing “sleazy New York Democrats” of “doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that … gave out to charity more money than it took in … I won’t settle this case!”
The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 14. Juni 2018
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said Tuesday night on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, “I do believe that he has information about Mr. Trump that would be of interest both in Washington as well as New York State.”