Donald Trump Hit With Subpoena In Tax Fraud Investigation

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Former President Trump is getting subpoenaed for his testimony in a New York state investigation into his business, per a new report from The New York Times. His testimony has been targeted by New York state Attorney General Letitia James (D), who is investigating matters including whether the Trump family business essentially falsified valuations of certain assets in order to obtain financial benefits. James is seeking Trump’s testimony as part of her team’s civil probe into these matters, which is distinct from the criminal investigation (which James’s office is also supporting) that recently culminated in tax evasion charges against the Trump company and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

James hopes to take down Trump’s testimony on January 7. Per the rules of civil probes such as the one that James is conducting, criminal charges aren’t an option, although lawsuits over alleged misconduct remain possible.

In the meantime, the Times definitively reported on Thursday that James was set “to subpoena Trump,” adding that “because the [civil and criminal] investigations overlap — both Ms. James and [Manhattan-area District Attorney Cy] Vance are focused on whether Mr. Trump inflated his property values to secure financing, and their offices are working together — Mr. Trump could refuse to sit for a deposition once Ms. James formally subpoenas him.” As that theory goes, Trump’s “lawyers could ask a judge to block the deposition, arguing that Mr. Trump’s testimony could be unfairly used against him in the criminal investigation, violating his constitutional right against self-incrimination,” the Times notes.

Notably, the Times observes that another distinction between the nature of the civil investigation that James is conducting and a criminal investigation is that, in a civil case, jurors in a potential court proceeding are free to draw conclusions from defendants — even a former president — choosing not to testify. Thus, if Trump opts to try and evade questioning, then that itself could add to the case against him. Read more on this matter at this link.

Broadly, investigations into Trump’s business practices got going in substantial part over Congressional testimony from Trump’s longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen, who revealed the nature of some of the potentially criminal conduct that unfolded. Some of the differences in valuations put forward by the Trump business have been stark, and fraud could explain the issues. In 2012, for instance, Donald’s company claimed to potential lenders that a certain building in NYC was worth $527 million, and within months, it claimed to tax authorities that the same building was worth only $16.7 million. A higher valuation for lenders could make the business seem better off, while a lower one for tax authorities could lessen the bills needing payment.