President Donald Trump has got another subpoena to worry about. According to multiple reports including at The New York Times and CNN, Manhattan-area District Attorney Cyrus Vance has issued a subpoena for a full eight years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. The demand goes all the way back to 2011 and is directed to Trump’s longtime personal accounting firm, Mazars USA. The subpoena comes in the wake of Vance’s office getting a criminal investigation underway into hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels covering an affair she had with Trump, but as The Times notes, the wide scope of the subpoena could indicate that the scope of that criminal investigation has increased.
Trump Organization lawyer Marc Mukasey shared simply:
‘We are evaluating and will respond as appropriate.’
The original topic has already produced plenty of headaches for the Trump camp. His former longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for crimes including his violation of federal campaign finance laws that was part of his role in the scheme.
Vance’s office is examining questions including whether the hush money scheme violated any state laws like those against falsifying business records, which the Trump Organization did via claiming payments were “legal expenses” that they sent Cohen after he came up with an initial hush money amount on his own. The Times notes that falsifying business records along those lines “becomes a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the false filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud.”
Trump’s tax returns have proven an elusive white whale of sorts well outside of this situation. After promising to stay in line with the precedent of decades of major-party presidential candidates and release his tax returns eventually, Trump has infamously changed course and refused to do so. Now, House Democrats are seeking the documents to probe questions of possible fraud on the president’s part, and his administration has ended up on the other side of a court battle with the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee. Despite clearly delineated legislation opening the door for such, the Trump team has refused to provide the tax returns after a request.
In this case, CNN notes that:
‘Any material obtained by a grand jury subpoena is covered by grand jury secrecy rules and would likely become public only if it were used as evidence at a trial.’
Ironically enough, that leads into yet another area of ongoing investigation into the president — that covering his foreign ties. As House Democrats wrestle with the question of what to do about those ties, they’ve been seeking grand jury testimony material from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. They’ve argued that their efforts sufficiently meet the standards of judicial proceedings required for grand jury material to be released, but the Trump administration has claimed the effort shouldn’t be perceived as legitimate enough of a judicial proceeding to cross that bar — and nor should a formal impeachment proceeding before the full House, they claim. In other words, their bias towards a particular outcome is pretty clear.
Featured Image via screenshot