New Filing Suggests Manhattan DA Investigating ‘Protracted Criminal Conduct at the Trump Organization’

New Filing Suggests Manhattan DA Investigating ‘Protracted Criminal Conduct at the Trump Organization’
President Donald Trump holds a COVID-19 and storm preparedness roundtable in Belleair, Fla., on July 31, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Janita Kan

The Manhattan district attorney suggested that the office’s subpoena for President Donald Trump’s financial records is part of an investigation into “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” that was alleged in media reports in recent years, according to a new court filing.

The office of New York Country District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. told the court on Monday that publicly available information about the Trump organization and its officers, which includes allegations of insurance and bank fraud, provides a legal basis for requesting the substantial amount of financial records from the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.

“In light of these public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization, there was nothing facially improper (or even particularly unusual) about the Mazars Subpoena, which issued in connection with a complex financial investigation, requesting eight years of records from an accounting firm,” the office wrote (pdf).
The district attorney made the argument in a filing responding to Trump’s new challenge against the prosecutor’s subpoena seeking the president’s tax returns as part of a grand jury probe.

The president’s lawyers argued in their second amended complaint that Vance’s subpoena was “widely overbroad” and issued in “bad faith,” which amounted to a form of “harassment” against the president.

When the subpoena was issued, Vance was reportedly investigating hush money allegedly paid to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign: adult film performer Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the two women.

Monday’s filing suggests that the scope of Vance’s investigation is more expansive than the prosecutor had previously acknowledged.

In a footnote, the district attorney pointed to three media reports published in 2018 and 2019 about the president’s wealth and finances to justify its subpoena. The reports alleged wrongdoing by Trump and his organization to expand his businesses including illegally inflating his worth to prospective lenders and investors.

“Public reporting demonstrates that the Office had a valid basis for requesting each category and timeframe of document listed in the Mazars Subpoena,” the district attorney office argued.

“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.”

Trump has been fighting Vance’s subpoena since September 2019, arguing that the president enjoys absolute immunity from state criminal process under the Constitution. The district court denied Trump’s application for an injunction over the subpoena and dismissed the case in October 2019. The 2nd Circuit also denied the president’s request for relief.

Trump’s lawyer argued in the Supreme Court that a sitting president has absolute immunity from state criminal subpoenas because compliance with them would impair the performance of his presidential duties. The federal government, which was also involved in the case, argued that a state grand jury subpoena for personal records of a sitting president should meet a higher standard of need.

The Supreme Court on July 9 pushed back (pdf) on both arguments and said “no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.” However, the top court left the door open for the president to seek recourse, suggesting that Trump could still challenge the subpoena on other grounds.

In Trump’s filing in late July, his lawyers argued that the scope of the subpoena was overbroad as it requested for “voluminous documents” beyond the district attorney’s limited jurisdiction under New York law and was not properly tailored for Trump’s records. They argued this was because Vance had copied the wording of subpoenas issued by House Committees also seeking the president’s financial records.

They also argued that the extensive nature of the subpoena also suggest that Vance had issued the subpoena in bad faith.

Vance’s office argued that Trump’s challenge should be tossed out as it fails to establish overbreadth or bad faith and does not state a claim.

Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
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