Trump could face tax fraud probe, Manhattan prosecutor says


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. speaks during a news conference to announce the return of The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh, to the people of Egypt, in New York City

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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Manhattan’s district attorney said on Monday he could have grounds to investigate President Donald Trump and his businesses for tax fraud, as he seeks to persuade a federal appeals court to let him enforce a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns.

Lawyers for District Attorney Cyrus Vance made the assertion in a filing with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, four days before it considers Trump’s request to block the August 2019 subpoena to his accounting firm Mazars USA.

The lawyers said the “mountainous” public allegations of misconduct, including misstatements about business properties, could justify a grand jury probe into possible tax fraud, insurance fraud and falsifying business records.

“Even if the grand jury were testing the truth of public allegations alone, such reports, taken together, fully justify the scope of the grand jury subpoena,” Vance’s lawyers wrote.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, declined to comment on the filing.

Vance had previously said his subpoena also related to “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the president’s business, the Trump Organization, including possible insurance and bank fraud.

Trump, a Republican, has said the subpoena from Vance, a Democrat, for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns in connection with a criminal probe into his businesses was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith to harass him.

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The president made that argument after the U.S. Supreme Court in July rejected his earlier claim of immunity from criminal investigations while in the White House.

Trump is now appealing U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s Aug. 20 ruling allowing the subpoena’s enforcement.

Oral arguments are set for Sept. 25 before a panel of three judges, all appointed by Democratic presidents.

Though the appeal was fast-tracked, it is unlikely the public will know what’s in Trump’s tax returns before the Nov. 3 election.

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