Trump Could Be Investigated for Tax Fraud, D.A. Says for First Time


The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been locked in a yearlong legal battle with President Trump over obtaining his tax returns, suggested for the first time in a court filing on Monday that it had grounds to investigate him and his businesses for tax fraud.

The filing by the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., offered rare insight into the office’s investigation of the president and his business dealings, which began more than two years ago.

Mr. Vance, a Democrat, has never revealed the scope of his office’s criminal inquiry, citing grand jury secrecy. The investigation has been stalled by the fight over a subpoena that the office issued in August 2019 for eight years of the president’s tax returns.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump have said the subpoena should be blocked, calling it “wildly overbroad” and politically motivated. Mr. Vance responded to that argument in a carefully worded new filing that did not directly accuse Mr. Trump or any of his businesses or associates of wrongdoing and took pains to avoid disclosing details about the inquiry.

More recently, prosecutors suggested in court papers that their inquiry was broader, including a focus on possible financial crimes and insurance fraud. The prosecutors said they viewed Mr. Trump’s records as central to their investigation.

After the subpoena was issued, Mr. Trump sued in federal court to block it, arguing that as a sitting president, he had blanket immunity from any criminal investigation. The judge, Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan, roundly dismissed the claim, which had not been tested in the courts before, and the president appealed.

The dispute ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which in July handed down a landmark decision ruling against Mr. Trump.

“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.

But the justices said that Mr. Trump could return to the lower court and raise other objections to the subpoena’s scope and relevance. Mr. Trump’s lawyers went back to Judge Marrero, arguing that the document request was political and “so sweeping that it amounts to an unguided and unlawful fishing expedition.”

In August, Judge Marrero dismissed the president’s new arguments. The judge noted that Mr. Trump’s lengthy legal battle could end up allowing the statute of limitations to expire on any possible crimes, and effectively grant him the immunity to which the Supreme Court ruled he was not entitled.

“At its core, it amounts to absolute immunity through a back door,” Judge Marrero wrote. He added, “Justice requires an end to this controversy.”



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