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Manhattan DA probing Trump Organization for 'insurance and bank fraud' and 'pattern of financial misconduct'

Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News
·3 min read

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump and his company face an investigation for “insurance and bank fraud,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance wrote Monday, asking a judge to uphold a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns.

The new filing in Manhattan Federal Court hinted at the scope of Vance’s investigation, which includes a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns. The probe was previously thought to center on an investigation of how the Trump Organization accounted for hush-money payments made to women during the 2016 election. But Carey Dunne, an attorney in Vance’s office, wrote that Trump’s legal challenges of the subpoena are based in part on the “false premise” that the investigation is limited to the hush-money payments.

The DA needs the “documents to assess whether a pattern of financial misconduct, for example, might violate state criminal law,” wrote Dunne, an attorney for Vance.

The office is also investigating allegations of “insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers,” according to the filing.

Dunne cited news reports of “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” as justification for the subpoena.

“These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New York’s borders. This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct,” Dunne wrote.

Trump continues to fight the demand on his longtime accounting firm, Mazars, despite a historic Supreme Court ruling that he was not entitled to immunity while in the Oval Office and had to comply like any other citizen. Trump’s new challenges center on claims that Vance’s subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith.

But Dunne wrote that Judge Victor Marrero, who is overseeing the case, already rejected those arguments.

Trump “merely regurgitates allegations and arguments this Court has rejected before,” Dunne wrote.

“Every day that goes by is another day (Trump) effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.”

Marrero declined “to impute bad faith to the District Attorney,” in a ruling last year. After receiving a confidential document detailing Vance’s investigation, the judge also determined the subpoena was reasonably crafted for what Dunne described as a “complex financial investigation.”

That ruling also hinted that Vance’s investigation related to a wide array of Trump’s legal troubles, including a nonprosecution agreement between the federal prosecutors and the publisher of the National Enquirer, the conviction of Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen and “investigations by multiple other New York regulatory authorities.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, among other crimes, in connection with his role arranging the hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both women claim to have had affairs with Trump, which he denies.

In an evening briefing from the White House, Trump called Monday’s Vance revelations “just a continuation of the witch hunt.”

“It’s Democrat stuff,” he said. “They failed with Mueller and with everything, they failed in every stage … This is a continuation of the worst witch hunt in American history.

“Didn’t work out for Congress, didn’t work out for Mueller, didn’t work out for anybody,” Trump added. “It’s a terrible thing that they do, really a terrible thing. The witch hunt has gone on long enough.”

Trump and Vance have been fighting in court since the DA served the subpoena on Mazars on Aug. 1, 2019. Since then, Trump has sought to “delay the grand jury’s investigation,” Vance has argued.

Nevertheless, it’s unlikely Trump’s taxes will become public before the 2020 election. Marrero must rule on the new arguments, which Trump can then appeal. Vance’s office has requested “expedited resolution” of the legal fight.

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(Daily News staff writer Chris Sommerfeldt contributed to this story.)

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