Loophole In State Law Explored To Charge Trump With Criminal Activity

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Manhattan prosecutors are exploring possible criminal charges against ex-President Donald Trump in connection to potentially wide-ranging fraud at his business, and, according to a new report from CNN, they’ve “discussed” using a provision of New York law that allows for an extension of the statute of limitations for particular criminal activity in the event that the defendant has been outside of the state “continuously.” Although Trump previously lived in New York, he rarely returned to the state once winning the presidency. Thus, the span of activity that’s subject to the criminal investigation could be wider than expected.

As CNN explained, “Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office have discussed using a section of New York criminal procedure law that they successfully applied in their sexual assault case against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to charge him with earlier conduct, people familiar with the matter said.” In addition, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order last year that paused statutes of limitations statewide in order to help adapt to the strain on legal system processes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo’s order “could give prosecutors another several months’ worth of conduct by the Trump Organization and its employees to investigate,” CNN noted. The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is handling the Trump criminal investigation, recently obtained large troves of the ex-president’s financial records, including his tax returns, following a conclusion by the U.S. Supreme Court in their favor. Trump fought in court to block a subpoena that Vance’s office issued for records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA, but Trump’s effort repeatedly failed.

According to CNN, “people familiar with the matter say [Vance] is likely to decide on whether to charge a case or close the investigation by the end of the year.” Trump isn’t the only potential target; other high-profile individuals at the Trump family business who could face scrutiny include other members of the Trump family and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime Chief Financial Officer. Prosecutors have reportedly been angling to flip Weisselberg, who could provide potentially critical firsthand information about Trump corruption. Potential crimes center on issues like potential fraudulent adjustments to valuations of Trump properties. Those adjustments would have been meant to help the business secure potential financial benefits like loans and tax breaks.